Drivers are more plentiful than ever and the experience has changed

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.”

Dave Barry, Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn

This morning my wife and I commuted to work together, while our other car was being serviced.

On the rare occasion when this happens, we usually share the driving responsibilities – her taking the morning drivers commute and me relegated to the evening shift. We’re all about balance in my household.

While sitting in the passenger’s seat, I came to the realization that being carted around from point A to point B is not a bad way to go through life.

There I sat in utter relaxation – sipping coffee from my travel mug and enjoying the scenery as it passed by before me. It’s amazing how morning traffic jams really don’t bother you so much when you’re not driving the car.

When I was a little boy and my family traveled to Disneyland in Florida, there was one ride I begged my parents to take me on repeatedly. Imagine a long, predetermined track littered with authentic looking antique cars from the 1930’s – and I could drive them! Okay, I wasn’t really “driving” them. They were permanently attached to a metal track and all I had to do was push on the gas and steer. Even so, it was pretty thrilling for a young kid with an infatuation with cars.

I also remember our yearly visits to the Jersey Shore (sad how you can no longer reference that part of the state without comparing it to the trashy television show). Anyway, I loved to go on the Bumper Cars, but not for the obvious reasons. Instead of spending my ticket to ride smashing into everyone in front of me, I liked to drive along the perimeter like I was on a regular city street. Not hard to do when everybody else was gathered in the middle crashing into each other.

I remember I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license, grab my keys and actually drive on the road without someone more experienced sitting next to me all the time. There was such a feeling of freedom and independence, not to mention the exhilaration of driving down the street with your windows open and the radio blasting while a soft breeze blew through your hair.

But as with everything in life, once you do something for any great length of time, it eventually loses its luster.

Today roadways are congested, riddled with construction and alarmingly filled with inexperienced drivers who take too many chances. From around town to around the country, driving just isn’t what it used to be.

Perhaps I sound like a grumpy old man reminiscing about the days when many people didn’t have cars and roadways were far less crowded then they are today, but so be it. I’ve been driving for almost 20 years and a lot has changed since I earned my driver’s license. It’s gone from being something I used to enjoy to something whose only purpose is to cart me back and forth to work or shopping malls.

It’s unfortunate that every good invention in life eventually breeds resentment from those of us who once relished the unique experience.