I like driving. I don’t like other drivers. It’s the main reason I disagree with the girl teen’s insistence that I be the person who gives her driving lessons. “Don’t trust any other driver on the road. They’re likely to do anything at any time.” I don’t want her to have my hangups with driving. I also know that it’s entirely possible that another car will suddenly be driving toward you, in your lane, on the Interstate or an exit ramp or a fast food drive-thru. A car might pass and cut you off while you are turning in an intersection. The car in front of you might suddenly turn 90 degrees and drive straight into a tree line. A driver might park their car in the bank drive-thru line and walk into the bank. Those are just the experiences that I remember most vividly. I’m not even counting the four way stop on Morrell that the drivers from one direction treat as always their right of way.
It doesn’t help that the five to six hours a day that I spend in the car driving children to and from their activities includes afternoon rush hour. Every day that I do that, I know my odds of being in an accident rise significantly. My stress habits of locking my jaw and grinding my teeth have been joined by smashing my tongue to the roof of my mouth until it dries out and sticks there. I’ve tried endlessly sipping a beverage to break the new habit, but it creates an additional discomfort that doesn’t lend itself to waiting several hours to relieve.
With all this driving, you would think that end of the school day pickup would be the easiest part of my schedule. Everyone there wants to safely retrieve their children and get on to their child’s next activity. Right? Wrong. High school students can do advanced level math, speak multiple languages, keep up with the requirements for half a dozen classes, coordinate schedules for multiple clubs and teams, do 24/7 tech support for all the senior citizens in their family, work part-time jobs and take a billion selfies daily, but they can not look both ways before crossing a street. School pickup is constant vigilance of a stream of high school students weaving in and out of cars and walking into the street without looking while also dealing with other drivers. Those other drivers park their car at a street sign and refuse to move forward with the other cars in line. They drive past the line and wedge themselves into the front of the line. They block the center aisle that is for school buses and moving traffic. They idle their engines with the windows rolled down so their cigarette smoke can be shared by everyone. They take over a street lane going the opposite direction and block intersections. After school pickup is completely unnecessarily chaotic because hell is other drivers.
When I happily say that I have nowhere to be, I’m not excited because I’m staying home. I’m happy not to be driving. No amount of singing or dancing can compensate for the stress of other drivers.