I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not a patient individual. In fact, I love the saying I found somewhere on the Web: “Patience is a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.”
It’s something I exercise because I have no other choice that doesn’t result in something bad happening, not particularly because it’s something I enjoy.
Because patience is so hard for me, I try to exercise it only when it’s absolutely necessary. Like when I’m on the road. I don’t like driving. Not one bit. I do it because we haven’t figured out that whole teleportation thing, and if we ever do it’s highly unlikely to happen in my lifetime.
I like being one place or another, or riding with someone else. If I don’t have to drive, I can kick back and enjoy a trip a lot more. If asked to, I will of course drive, but it’s not something I ever do for kicks. OK, the horse is dead now and beaten to a pulp, so I can move on.
What I keep thinking though, as I’m driving from place to place, is this: “Where’s the fire?” I am so sick of having people race around me like I’m standing still and, all too often, there is a hill or a curve in the road soon.
I’m sure many others have seen this happen before, but one particularly close call I witnessed a couple years ago at Christmas—memorable to me because I was expecting my parents for a visit later that day—involved a car passing on a hill.
I was headed to Lehigh on my weekly route to drop off papers. Someone passed me and almost hit a car that came up over the hill. The other car had to go onto the shoulder to avoid a collision. That totally infuriated me.
What if that had been my parents? What if it had been you? Or your parents, or someone else you love? I just want to grab people like that and scream at them at the top of my lungs.
As it was, the other driver was alert and avoided the accident. But what if they hadn’t been so frosty? People could very easily have died. And for what? So someone could gain a few seconds in their trip? Please.
I guarantee—as fully as I’m sure that the earth is an oblate spheroid that orbits the sun and not a flat disk around which the sun moves—that wherever it is you’re headed, it’s still going to be there when you get there. If not, you’re going to have bigger issues than being late anyway.
So please, think about what you’re risking when you pass on a hill or a curve and just don’t do it.
Now, on to another sore subject: texting while driving. It’s something I simply can’t abide. I’m revealing myself to be a huge geek here—no surprise to my friends, I’m reasonably sure. But no one on this earth is like Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” who in one episode listened to 11 pieces of music at the same time and comprehended them all.
It’s not physically possible for human beings—even Brent Spiner—to look at the screen on their cell phone to do texting and simultaneously pay 100 percent attention to their driving. It’s just not. Period.
You may think you possess a superhuman multitasking ability, but the human brain just doesn’t work like the computer on which I’m writing this column.
I see it like this: If it’s only you on the road, then you’re only endangering your own life. It’s your life and—up to a point— you’re entitled to endanger it. That point is reached, I believe, when one’s reckless behavior presents a risk not merely to their own life but to that of others.
Probably every moment of our lives is dangerous in some way that we may not perceive at the time. However, as the saying goes, “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.”
Personally, I’d prefer to live long enough to be an old pilot.