Friday, September 20, 2013

Driven to Consideration Despite Complacency

If it's been raining really, really hard.

I mean, lots of rain.  And you drive up to a street with water running over it, and you try to drive through the flooded roadway, be practicing what you'd say if a TV news crew was nearby, filming your foolishness.

"Um, yeah, I saw the water flowing across the street, but I thought I could drive through it" won't cut it anymore.

How many times have you heard that interview on the news after a storm?

Or, if you're driving in the rain on a freeway, and you tailgate somebody, and then have to slam on your brakes, which makes you skid into their vehicle, starting a chain-reaction wreck, saying "man, I didn't realize the roadway was that slippery" won't cut it anymore.

The same thing applies for people pulling up to stoplights and stop signs.

If you own a silver or gray vehicle, and you like driving in the rain without your headlights on, saying "why didn't you see me?" when somebody hits you - even though technically, the wreck may have been their fault - won't cut it anymore.

Just because it's raining doesn't mean the close-in parking spots for handicapped people are suddenly opened to anybody who doesn't want to get wet walking through a parking lot.  Those handicapped people aren't suddenly healed just because it's raining.

Complaining because other drivers are navigating more cautiously on the roadways in a rain storm isn't cool, either, or hip, or macho, or indicative of your superior driving skills.  Chances are, those people are driving the way they are because of drivers like you.

In those parts of the country where rain is a normal part of life, these little reminders may be barely worth mentioning.  But here in arid north Texas, however, where rain is rarely cursed, it's almost as though radio stations and those electronic billboards should run these reminders repeatedly whenever storm clouds begin gathering overhead.

There used to be a slogan here that went, "drive friendly, the Texas way."  Which invariably led to the joke, "well, which way do you want?  The friendly way, or the Texas way?"

Natives here blame years of in-migration from them infernal Yankees for bringin' their rude, big-city driving tactics down to God's country.  But it's just as likely that the typical rainlessness of Texas can turn the hardiest Seattle native into a teenager with a learner's permit at the first few drops of rainwater on our dry, oily roadway surfaces.  It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of complacency whenever we're deprived of something for any length of time.

And especially when we enjoy something else for a long period of time. 

Granted, complacency is what keeps auto repair shops in business.  That's one industry that's probably recession-proof.

No, I'm not grumbling because I got into an accident in the rain today.  It just that sometimes, some of the most innocuous things can make me realize just how selfish, self-centered, distracted, detached, unrealistic, unnecessarily risky, and stubborn some people can be when they're out interacting with the general public.  And not just other people - the other drivers I criticize, and about whom I vent; but me.  Me, myself, and I.  I can say with complete honesty that I've never caused an accident in my life, although I've had two cars hit - and one totaled - without me or anyone else even being in them!  But my history with speeding tickets bears testament to a pesky exasperation I have with slow drivers.

Except when it's raining.

When I drive, I try to remember that just as I'm going about my own private business, I'm sharing the roadways with other people going about their own private business.  And it's highly unlikely that I'm the only driver on the road who really needs to get to his destination in the shortest amount of time.

But one thing I do know:  we all want to get to wherever that destination is in one piece, with no accidents.  Profound, right?  But it's the people who really take for granted that we will who seem most likely to deny that reality for the rest of us.

And that's really no accident, is it?

Drahv frendlee, y'all!

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