That was a suggested topic the other day in the Daily Post. Personally, I can’t think of any really bad driver that I’ve encountered, I just get extremely disturbed if they start to talk on the cell phone, fiddle around with various controls on the dashboard, or seem to be out of focus in general. Sometimes I read about people that even text while driving, and that is totally beyond me. I’ve never seen it done and I don’t want to see it either.
Sometimes when I read these suggested topics, my mind starts to wander and a car ride with my uncle came to mind. My uncle was a bus driver all his life … I think he drove for forty three years, never had an accident — not at work or elsewhere in traffic. He was a very safe driver, and a very calm and collected person too. He lived to be eighty nine and in the later part of his life he began to realize that he probably shouldn’t be driving all that much. He often allowed my brother to drive him here and there, and me too.
In 2001, his half-sister, my “half-aunt”, Olga, died at the ripe old age of ninety four. The funeral was taking place in a small church some fifty kilometers south of where we lived. My brother and I were going with him, and it was decided beforehand that my brother would drive. Fine! It was winter … lots of snow, ice… When my brother and I arrived at his place, the car was already up front, humming, and in the front passenger seat was his girlfriend of fifty years, seated. She was in her 90s, not very lucid, but still a lot of will-power. This meant that he refused to let my brother drive … I think it was some kind of «man thing» — he didn’t want to show his girlfriend that he wouldn’t drive any more.
That was the moment we should have just walked away, but we didn’t. The highway is not divided all the way and this was one of the scarier car rides I’ve had. It’s very busy, he was so out of focus and did the stupidest things. When he saw a car in the rear view mirror, he speeded up like a mad man, and sometimes he was driving so slow so the other ones got mad. After a few kilometres I got some kind of fatalistic view of the whole thing …. I thought «Okay, we’re all going to die … my uncle, my brother and I … Olga is already dead and so is my mum and dad, so this will be the end of us all, we’re the last ones…It won’t be too far from where my dad died either!» I could envision myself lying out on the highway in pieces, being administered to by paramedics, and I started sweating profusely.
Well, evidently, my time wasn’t up. My brother didn’t say a word during the whole ride, but when we got out of the car outside the church, he said that he’d had the same thoughts as I had. The funeral went well … I met a whole slough of distant relatives that I had not seen since they were children. My uncle was in awe over how they all had multiplied and had children of their own. He and I were the only ones who had not reproduced and I said that to him as we were coming out of the church. He thought that was funny.
On the way back, he decided to take the scenic route instead of the highway. A very narrow, icy road with lots of hair-pin curves but it wasn’t as scary as the highway. The worst that could have happened there would have been that we’d ended up in a snow bank or so … nothing life threatening.
This wasn’t the worst ride of my life, but it was way up there…
My brother and I have never been talking much about emotions and stuff like that, but when we got out of the car we looked at each other and said «Never Again!!!»