Driving Them Cars

I recently joined a conversation in The New York Times about driving, the hazards thereof, and the forgiveness of sins. So to speak.

This response of mine was published:

I have a housemate who often needs rides to meetings and appointments, and I'm usually glad to help. However, she is very judgmental about other drivers and often insists they "don't know how to drive." I, on the other hand, have been driving for years and can usually come up with all kinds of reasons someone might not have put on a turn signal or changed lanes suddenly (and safely) or driven too slow or too fast, because I have also done those things. So I like to suggest to her that maybe they are late for an appointment or had forgotten where the turn was or realized that they had just missed their exit. As long as people get through the ordeal of traffic without hurting themselves or others, I'm fine with it.

I read a piece some time ago (in your paper, I believe) about how our driving habits are a proof of civilization. Yes, there are accidents and yes there are bad/drunk/crazy drivers. But they are a small minority. Most of us out there in our heavy machines driving anywhere from 25 to 70 mph do so safely and courteously. We stop at stop signs in the middle of nowhere. We let people into our lane when we can see that their lane will end. We don't bump slow drivers from behind to hurry them up. We pull over to let ambulances drive by.

I think of driving as a dance of the road. We learn the steps and weave in and out and past each other with all the grace we can muster. We're civilized folk.