I no longer recall what movie it's from but in some film a character says something to the effect of, "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."
Amen, brother! What happens to people when they get into their cars that shuts down their brains? Is it fumes? Are automobiles now nuclear powered and emitting some brain damaging radiation?
I can't answer these questions because I don't drive. But as someone who walks a lot, and spends a great deal of that time dancing like Fred Astaire trying to avoid hurtling hunks of metal and plastic on wheels, I can say it certainly appears as if some major mental degradation happens when people get into their cars.
Yesterday was a good day. I was only almost-hit by two drivers who couldn't seem to grasp that traffic flow, and pedestrian flow, actually comes from several directions, not simply the one direction they are focused on like mesmerized automatons. In both cases, as I leapt gymnast style to avoid a mangled spine, I caught the driver's expression – rather like an embarrassed child who has just soiled himself.
Most of us are aware of the environmental issues around cars and their emissions. But even if they were as safe to Nature as baby's bottoms, what about the hazard drivers themselves represent to us, we human beings, living in our urban gulags?
You see, the thing is, if you take your basic intersection – you know: north-south, east-west, cars and people and bikes and skateboards, and street lights – there are actually a number of things you have to watch for, not just that one lane you want to turn into. You've got to watch those lights. Even when you get the green, you have to make sure the other idiots are paying attention to them. You also have to watch who else is turning, and it's extremely helpful to be aware that there are things other than cars to watch for.
You know, like pedestrians?
One guy yesterday was so focused on the bus going by and his chance to peal into the intersection he failed to notice that I was right in front of him, crossing the street. (And yes, I had the green light. He hadn't bothered to notice that he was facing a red.)
There is something with drivers that gets them so focused on where they are going, as quickly as possible, that their minds shut down to any other thought. And I'm not talking about the morons on cell phones – that's a whole other thing.
With the possible exception of an ambulance driver, is there anybody anywhere that really has to get any place that fast? Is there a time bomb ticking?
And what about those clowns with the screeching tires that tear off from one intersection as the light turns green only to find themselves moments later at the next red light, and a moment after that looking to the side to find they're still waiting beside grandma in her Volvo? What is the point?
Please help me with this. Do you drive? If so, when you get into your car, what happens to your brain? Do you go into some fugue state?