I can't remember the last time I faced death. Oh, wait; yes, I do. It was yesterday, the last time I drove my car.
It's a daily experience - facing death - yet I don't get hazardous-duty pay for driving in local traffic. If soldiers in battle zones get extra money, so should I. I'm sure my survivors would appreciate it.
Every day brings a new near-death experience. It might come from the guy in the next lane who suddenly wants to be in the same space occupied by my car, without signaling or checking his windows or mirrors.
It might come from the car that pulls into traffic in front of me and cuts across three lanes, sending everyone around me playing dodge cars.
Or it might be the car that drives in the center turn lane - the suicide lane - and passes me going 60 mph with no intention of ever turning.
Actually, any lane I'm in seems to be the suicide lane. Nowadays, I leave a goodbye note to my family before I climb behind the wheel. Then I don a fireproof racing suit and a crash helmet, say a prayer and take a deep breath, because I know that on any drive I will meet the following:
Drivers in the fast lane, going slower than the speed limit and slower even than the cars in the right lane, all the while ignoring the line of vehicles stacked up behind.
Cars entering the interstate without yielding to traffic that is trying to exit the interstate, even though traffic on the on-ramp has a yield sign.
Motorists driving after dark, in the rain or in gloomy weather without using their headlights.
Other drivers - or perhaps the same ones - using their driving lights or fog lights in busy traffic all the time, day or night, instead of out on the deserted highway, burning a spot into the retina of every oncoming driver.
Drivers who think a stop sign means "kind of stop," or "almost stop," or "slow down a little bit."
Drivers who don't pull into the other lane when they see a sign that says their lane is closed ahead. While other drivers are merging into the appropriate lane, these guys stay put until they get to the place where their lane ends and expect to be let into line ahead of all those folks who did the right thing.
Drivers who are so lazy, so self-centered, so stupid, that they park in fire lanes in shopping centers so they won't have to walk 50 feet from the parking lot to use the ATM, pick up a burger or dash into the store for a week's worth of groceries. If firefighters want to get to that fire, they can park in the lot with the other commoners, right?
Drivers circling parking lots trying to find a spot within 50 feet of the store instead of having to walk 100 feet.
Motorists continuing through an intersection after the traffic light has turned yellow and then red. There are three or four at every light who do this because, hey, their time is more valuable than my life.
Morons so busy talking on the telephone that they don't realize they are engaging in any of the activities listed above. Even scarier are the talkers who also are gesturing with their other hand, or applying makeup, or shaving, or eating fried chicken, or slapping their children.
Maybe I'm being selfish in wanting everyone to drive safely, but I have a wife, children and grandchildren on these roads, and they don't deserve to be put in such danger. As for me, I will keep my crash helmet on and pray for a miracle.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.