The other night, as my life flashed before my eyes, I recalled the day a couple of weeks earlier when our granddaughter took me driving around in her neighborhood in her sister’s car.
“Aren’t you a little young to be driving?” I asked, hoping someone else in the family would bail me out of the situation with our darling 14-year-old.
“I’m a good driver,” she said, “and it’s just our neighborhood.”
Off we went, and she began fine. When we came to a stop sign and she turned right without even slowing down, though, I clawed at the windows.
“You just ran a stop sign!” I screamed calmly.
She looked at me as though I had just said math is fun.
“No, I didn’t,” she said.
I repeated my opinion.
“I stopped,” she said, taking another turn.
“No. No, you didn’t stop You didn’t come close to stopping.”
“Oh. Well, it’s just the neighborhood. I’m a good driver.”
All that came back to me a few nights ago as I was driving home from work. I was cruising along at the allowed 35 mph in good weather. Ahead was a green light, and to my right, cars waited for their light to turn green so they could proceed. To my left, the view was blocked by buildings.
So fast that I barely had time to react, a red pickup flew past me from my left, going through its red light without slowing down, and much faster than 35 mph.
As my foot stomped the brake pedal into the floorboard, I saw the truck whip by my nose-diving vehicle. It happened in such slow motion in my mind that I thought, “There is no way he is not going to tear off my front end, and probably me along with it.”
He missed me by perhaps an inch or less. It was such a narrow margin that separated our trucks that there might even be red paint on my front bumper where molecules, if not actual vehicles, collided. If he had not been driving so insanely, he would have hit me as he ran the red light.
I didn’t have time to blow my horn, nor did he slow down. He whooshed past those cars waiting their turn and crested the hill. I drove home and hugged my wife.
Where had that truck’s driver been going so hurriedly that he had no time to stop at red lights? Were the bars closing? Were the police closing in on him? Was he close to missing curfew?
I hope he didn’t kill someone farther down the road. If you could have slowed him down long enough, he might even have said, “I’m a good driver.”
After being hit in the rear bumper a few times, I keep an eye in my rearview mirror to make sure no one is bearing down on me at, literally, breakneck speed so I can relax against the head restraint.
Now, I slow down at intersections, even when I have the right of way.
All these years of driving, and I learn something new every day.