Signs of Getting Older #15: U-turns

Back in the days when the wheel was something of a novelty, for my 18th birthday the folks paid for my driving lessons. Let it be known I think driver training is an on-going process and I do not consider my education in this regard complete by any means (insert pause for a chorus of ‘no kidding’ and other, less kind interjections from family to fade).

A friend of my sister offered these words of advice, “If you see a driver wearing a hat, pull off to the side of the road until that car is out of sight.” In those pre-hipster days, he was referring to fedora style or other fashion suicide version of something Frank Sinatra or Bob Hope would wear.

The reason for precaution was that such a hat would be worn by someone who spent most of his days operating a tractor, a Combine Harvester and or a baler (yes, I know, you pull a baler behind a tractor but, c’mon, work with me here, son). Thus the nattily haberdashered driver would not necessarily be up to date with some of the more commonly accepted customs of city driving like maintaining a speed relatively close to that of traffic, waiting until a stop sign or red light to coast to a complete stop, or using the left turn lane for left turns.

It could also be an old guy heading home from his retirement bash, way too drunk to walk safely.

Understand this was back in the old days when office parties were held in the office: the secretarial pool brought the casseroles, cookies, cakes and the men in suits brought optimistic amounts of grain alcohol. There was no breathalyzer and the only roadside suspensions were when someone miscalculated the turn onto the High Level Bridge.

Now I’m much older and, well, moderately less foolish but the hat thing still seems to apply. Sometimes it’s still a sign of a driver who should have handed in the keys a few years ago.

More often it’s a sign of how old I’ve become.

Now I want to reach over and turn their hats around so the brim is over their eyes. And turn down the music and tell them to pull up their pants. And slow down and, what’s that dear? Turn off what signal light?

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