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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Driving Lessons from My Dad

Dear Family and Friends: 

My dad often said, while he was in the car driving down the street, "never follow an old man wearing a hat."  He meant the old man wearing a hat, I'm sure.  See my "old man" never tired of his love affair with the automobile.  And, unlike most men when they reach their golden years, he never drove slowly.  Living in South Florida used to drive him crazy.  "How can these old men drive so poorly,” he used to say; and, "come on buddy, let's move it."  Or, when stopped behind a geezer, when the light said “Go" and the geezer didn’t, dad would give an angry, “saddle up, partner!"  My dad was a cowboy from the West side of Chicago. 

My Grandfather was a terrible driver.  I only knew this from what I heard.  Whenever we were in his car my dad drove.  I don't remember ever being in my grandfather's car with him actually driving.  I got my license when I was seventeen and from that time on, I was everyone's designated driver (and they were always sober).  My grandfather had an accident down in Miami Beach because he stepped on the gas instead of the brake.  My dad couldn't believe it. 

Well here's the thing.  Why am I thinking about this?  Perhaps it is because I have recently entered the ranks of the baby boomer army of retirees.  I’m a card carrying Medicare member, actively depleting our national social security fund.  Although that doesn't necessarily automatically place me in the geezer category, I ain't getting any younger.  Juca sometimes accuses me of driving too slowly on the highway, and she's usually right, but that's not because of geezer-hood.  That's because my mind wanders and I forget to watch the speedometer; just sometimes.  She'll just say, "Ron" and I'll say something like, "did you ever think how different life would be if we didn't have to eat?"  Or, "I wonder what Earl Beeler would say about the IPAD?"  (Earl was our long-time camp maintenance man).   Juca's response to such earth shattering questions would be, "Ron, watch your speed." 

On the other hand, I find myself driving faster in the city than I ever did in my younger days.   I can't stand red lights, so I'm always trying to make the next light.  I'm a yellow-light, intersection-crossing master (or maniac).  I hate the guy in front of me who slows down while the light is still green as if anticipating the pleasure of stopping when it turns red.  It seems that I'm in a hurry even when I'm not in a hurry.  I wonder if that will change with this retirement phase.  I've heard retired people say to cashiers in grocery checkout lines, "take your time, I'm in no hurry," or, "I've got all the time in the world."  Will I ever stop hating having to wait in line? Will I ever become that lolly-gagging, green-light slowing-down, time-to-burn person?  I sure hope not. 

But, if you ever find yourself following me down the street as I kick it up to 25 MPH, you'll probably notice that, at least, I'm not wearing a hat.
Love to all,