Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rules of the Road at 67...

I was driving in North Scottsdale this past week and arrived at an intersection that I'm really not that familiar with. It was Raintree and Northsight. I needed to make a left turn there, so I pulled into the left turn lane, naturally. When I got my arrow, it was green and flashing intermittently. I did a quick inquiry into my memory banks from 53 years ago, when I studied the Rules of the Road, in order to pass my driving test when I was 16 and nothing came up. I was at a loss for this combination of traffic instructions. Let me add at this time that I have driving pretty successfully for 52 years and although I've received citations in those years, probably only about 4 or 5 total and they were always for speeding, that's right, I was in a hurry. NEVER for not knowing the rules of the road. Until now! I decided that it means the same thing as a solid green arrow and proceeded forward to make my turn as usual. Suddenly, I noticed just in time, that oncoming traffic was coming at a pretty good clip and they would probably smash into me if I proceeded forward, making my turn. I hit the brakes and just in time, as a plethora of vehicles continued straight ahead. WHEW, I thought, that was a close one. Am I the only resident of North Scottsdale that doesn't know what a flashing green arrow means? Do you?

Telling you all that reminded me of the very first time I'd driven a car. Like many things in my life, I didn't do it the orthodox way that most young men do. It was late into my 14th year on this planet and was I spending the night at my buddy Warren Wiczer's house. His parents were going out for the evening and he invited me. His mom and dad left and Warren and I were sort of the mischievous types. In spite of the heavy snow storm that was coming down, we (really he) decided to steal his mom's 59 Chevy Impala and take it driving down Church Street in our home town of Skokie, Illinois. In terms of the storm, I'd say there was 6 inches of fresh snow on the roads. Warren drove first, claiming he had done it may times before. Naturally, I trusted him. He kept slipping and sliding all over the place, so I asked if I could give it a try? I didn't do much better and it was back to Warren. Neither of us had any idea of how to handle the adversities of the weather and Warren suddenly swerved, hit the brakes and winded up driving up the front yard of some poor guys house, stopping about a foot from his front picture window, where the gentleman sat, watching the storm!

He came rushing out of the house and we were prepared for the worst, but all he did was help us push the old '59 out of his yard and back onto the road. We were petrified that first, he would be angry for almost crashing into his house and second, for being only 14 and driving a stolen car into his yard!

Somehow we made it home that night, back to Warren's house and when his folks came walking in after midnight, his mom asked if everything went alright and of course we nodded yes! Little did she know!

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