I have been driving for 44 years and I have never enjoyed a single minute of it. Admittedly, I am not a particularly good driver. I'm an average driver. I try to avoid driving when at all possible. I have driven to work as a necessity. For nearly ten years, I took the train to work and that was a pleasure. (Well, the public transportation in the Greater Philadelphia area leaves a lot to be desired, but it was a pleasure in that I didn't have to drive on a daily basis for a decade.) Currently, my commute to work is about 40 minutes and comes at a time when I am actually ahead of the common "rush hour" on my route. I also get to leave work everyday a half-hour before the crush of homecoming traffic.
When we go out — anywhere — Mrs. Pincus is behind the wheel. We have a great marriage in so many ways, one of them being her love of driving and my dislike of the same activity. I happily occupy the passenger seat* while Mrs. P navigates the car on short jaunts to the supermarket or long journeys to Florida — both of which we have tackled often, much to her delight.
|The cat in question.|
|Prepare to qualify!|
Once we crossed into the official realm of Broad Street in Philadelphia from the pastoral quiet of suburbia, all hell broke loose. Drivers straddled lanes with their cars, the painted white dashes exiting the dead center point between their rear wheels as though they were being dropped at regular intervals from a secret hatch under the trunk. Other drivers barreled out of curbside parking spaces with nary a glance at a rear-view mirror. Still other drivers just stopped — stopped! — in an active lane of traffic, click on their four-way hazard lights with the understanding that those illuminated flashers grant them full permission to stop wherever the heck they wish. Holding up a line of cars behind me? Hey! I got my flashers on, so its okay! There are those that stop their cars for no apparent reason. Some take an incredibly long time to make a turn, either at an intersection or to enter a driveway (like a gas station, shopping center or even their own at their house), leaving the rear portion of their car blocking the lane an not allowing any cars past until the turn is fully completed. Others change lanes from the far left to the far right with no indication of their proposed maneuver. If you don't want to get hit, your spider sense better be tingling. Then there are the texters. In Philadelphia, one does not need to use a "hands-free" device. Although "hands-free" is infinitely safer, Philadelphians still insist on having conversations by holding their phone two feet from their faces and screaming. As long as you're making a call, you might as well text while you're driving, too! There is no reason to adjust your habits just because you are operating of a two-ton death machine that requires your full attention. In addition, a recent phenomenon has entered the equation. Groups of young men driving unlicensed, off-road, non-street-legal vehicles (mini bikes, dirt bikes and ATVs) travel up and down Broad Street in packs numbering from two or three into the dozens. These guys prefer the late night hours to cruise the blacktop, often popping wheelies for most of their journey as well as blowing off traffic lights and other posted road regulations. (Their vehicles are not licensed, so why should they abide?) For reasons only known to them, the police turn a blind eye to this activity. Come to think of it, the police turn a blind eye to most law-violating activity I have seen on Broad Street. It has become like driving through a real-life video game. Prepare to qualify! Avoid the hazards and score points!
Well, I don't want to score any more points. I just want to get where I'm going. Actually, I just want someone else to drive me to get me where I'm going.
*One of my ex-sisters-in-law used to call it the "pussinger's seat" when the husband sat in it as the wife drove.