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Friday, October 5, 2007


I'd like to talk a little about old people. Not old to a teenager, I'm talking OLD. 70 years plus.

These people are great. They've lived a long life, they've made their contributions to society (most people) and many have great stories to tell. Most are retired and had earned their relaxation time. They continue to contribute to society in general by helping with their grand children, volunteering their time at food banks and the such, and enjoying the hobbies they like doing and now have time for. These people have my deepest respects and I hope to one day be able to join the ranks of the revered and respected senior.

I very much enjoy the occasional conversation and the wistful nostalgia of our elderly, and think they are great people. That is, until they GET ON THE ROAD!

First off, these people MUST know that their sight, hearing, reaction times and depth perceptions are not what they used to be. So why is it that they MUST drive the likes of Buick Roadmasters and Ford Crown Victoria's? Why do they need 3 tonnes of metal fronted by a huge V-8 just so they can putt around town at 20 under the speed limit or drive in the fast lane of the highway at 80 with their blinkers on?

You MUST lose all control of your neck muscles as you age because I've never seen one - not ONE elderly person check their blind spot as they are lane changing or merging into traffic. It seems they are oblivious to the chaos caused by them when horns are honking and brakes are screeching. "Gee Mildred, these young people just can't drive. It seems every time I make a lane change someone gets into an accident behind me. Tsk. Tsk."

Really, any and all indiscretions become your fault. To be fair, they are mostly out during the day time and tend to retreat back to their homes before rush hour. To also be fair, I need to travel for work during the day and it can be very frustrating. Just the other day I was trying to get into St. George to work on some instrumentation at the water plant. This was a timely matter, and I'm doing a respectful 10 km/h over the speed limit. What is in front of me while making my turn onto St. George road but 4 blue haired women in an enormous Buick. The driver cautiously waited 5 minutes for a car to pass that entered her field of vision about a kilometer down the road. She then nudged her gas guzzling beast slowly around the bend, onto the road, and gently accelerated to 60. And she stayed at 60. The speed limit is 80. The road is very hilly and there is very little opportunity to pass... so there I was, doing 20 less than the speed limit and my 10-4 phone beeping with an impatient water plant operator wondering where I was. "Sorry Scott, great gramma's got her Buick floored, I can't get by her.". Really, this lady musta thought she was flying. Both hands were on the steering wheel in a granny death grip, whiter than the collective whispy hair flying in the air forced through the heater on this balmy fall day. I finally got the opportunity to pass her, only to see her mother driving an even bigger Buick right in front of me. Shit.

My favorite is passing an elderly driver while seeing him shake his old grizzled fist at me. "Slow down, you young punk! You're going to get somebody killed like when I make a lane change!" I've even had the honour of a mummified shawl wrapped lady giving me the finger as I passed her while she's idling her behemoth in first gear.

Perhaps it's pride that keeps them oblivious, I don't know. I would be very happy to have them take yearly driving tests after a certain age. Hey, here's an idea. Make them drive in tandom with asshole teenagers that think their Honda Civics are rally cars. Maybe the polar opposites will even out into a normal and safe driver? Certainly worth a shot; I'm going to write my MP tomorrow.

3 keen observations:

Anonymous said...

I'm smiling with amusement. Poor Mike!

I was equally shocked while doing a fundraising walk to raise money for eye diseases. The conversation behind me went something like this.

Younger Woman (late twenties, probably): "They wouldn't give me services in college."

Older Woman (forties): Really?"

Younger Woman: "yeah, I wanted a reader for college. (transcriber's note: a reader reads printed text, such as examination questions, aloud... They wanted to take my Drivers' License away."

Older Woman: "Oh, they can't do that." this woman needed help reading printed text, but still thought she could drive.

I do have one question for you, though, Mike. What do we do to help older folks after they fail their driving test and we take their drivers' licenses away? You've said you respect them, enjoy what they have to say, and think they contribute to the community in important ways. How do they do that if they're stuck in the house?Hmmm.....

Mike said...

Sometimes people who cannot see up close can still see mid range and far distance. Those are important for driving. If you cannot adequately see that, then you take your permit taken away so you are not a danger to yourself and others.

Again, if old people cannot safely drive, then they should not so they are not a danger to themselves or others. If they are still able bodied, then they can walk, take a cab, public transit or hire a driver (if they can afford one).

If they are beyond all of that, then I hope they are happy with the life they have lived, for surely it is almost at an end.

Henry Wiltcher said...

Old people FTW!