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Brian's Attic

The Reading Shelf

Brendan's Island home pagePlaces to go on Brendan's Island
I Love It Here! main page
A Walk on the Catholic Side
Brian's Attic: The Reading Shelf
9/11/2002, 2005
An American Family
Ich Bin Ein Amerikaner
Mustard and Ketchup
Ronald Reagan
Arthur's Home
Day of the Living Driver
Jonah, the Movie
Once it Was BelievedFiction
The Dream
The Village, the Fence, and the Sign
Wilbert and Grunt

Attack of the Amateur Photo Album
Brendan: A Monk, A Boat and A Legend
Brendan's Island Guest Book
Brendan's Island Visitor Information Center


Day of the Living Driver

You've seen them: slack-jawed drivers, fingers gripping the steering wheel, vacant eyes staring in distant horror at something blocks ahead. Rolling down the street at a leisurely trot, they follow traffic lanes invisible to other motorists and pedestrians.

Seldom venturing forth at night, these living drivers prowl the day. Even at this moment, there may be one in your neighborhood, perhaps on your block.

A simple trip to the convenience store may become the stuff of nightmares, when one of these apparitions rolls through a stoplight and wafts past your radiator, like some Flying Dutchman of the streets. It is likely that you will never forget the driver's hollow visage as, oblivious to the world you live in, this relic of another age drifts by. Wisps of white hair hint at the span of decades that have passed since this one first discovered the distinction between brake and gas pedal.

Or you may meet one weaving in leisurely arcs between lanes. These, at least, you can see as they approach, entering lanes of oncoming traffic. On occasion, there is even a reasonable explanation for their behavior: They may veer in front of you to put the greatest possible distance between themselves and a parked Volkswagen.

I encountered someone teetering on the precipice of living-driverdom today, as I drove down a major street in Sauk Centre. For half a mile, the driver sauntered southward, swinging into the left lane when vehicles occupied the parking lane and once coming to a complete stop when faced with both oncoming traffic and parked vehicles. At last the driver swung into a parking lot, rolled onto the junction of four parking spaces, and stopped. Several minutes later, the driver emerged and began the long trek to the store entrance.

However you encounter a living driver, beware: for they bring peril to driver and pedestrian alike.

Their reflexes, vision, and judgment dulled, perhaps, by disease and enthusiastically administered prescriptions, the living drivers may be as unaware of their condition as they are unaware of traffic.

Just as all young drivers aren't crazy teenage drivers, not all old drivers are "living drivers." Some become aware of their diminishing abilities and give up the car keys. Others do not become wrecks of their younger selves, and drive with judgment and skill honed by a lifetime's accumulated wisdom.

Those who continue to drive after their time, however, may achieve a kind of fame. Several times each year, the news will report on the chaos wreaked by some living driver. A jaunt down the wrong ramp of an Interstate, a drive through a schoolyard, or a race through an open-air market may bring the notoriety which a lifetime of effort failed to produce.

Perhaps it is time to review how drivers. licenses are renewed. I sometimes feel a chill on my spine, when I recall how long it has been since I took a behind-the-wheel test. At least now Minnesota requires a vision test for those seeking an extension of their privilege to drive.

Even stringent testing, of course, would not remove all risky drivers from the road. And so, as you drive, remember: around the next corner, or lurking in a driveway, a living driver may be weaving toward you.

April 20, 2005

copyright Brian H. Gill 2005

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Brian's Attic: The Reading Shelf

Americana Observations Fiction
9/11/2002, 2005 Arthur's Home
by Naomi Gill
The Dream
An American Family Day of the
Living Driver
Ich Bin Ein Amerikaner Jonah Fan Page The Village, the Fence and the Sign
and Ketchup
Ronald Wilson Reagan Once it Was Believed /
Now We Know
Wilbert and Grunt

Brendan's Island home page
I Love It Here! (life in a small town) | A Walk on the Catholic Side
Brian's Attic | Attack of the Amateur Photo Album
Brendan: A Monk, A Boat And a Legend
Brendan's Island Guest Book | Visitor Information Center


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This page last updated: December 19, 2010