Saturday, February 25, 2012


I remember once when I was 11 or 12, my cousins had a minibike. They lived on a pretty big piece of land, and so they rode it all over their yard. The first time I was on it, I panicked and rode straight into a lilac bush, and that was actually the last time I ever piloted any kind of motorcycle.

Driving a car was a whole different thing, though. Living on a college campus in the middle of nowhere, I couldn't wait to learn, and once I did? I always felt confident at the wheel. Even today, I love me a road trip, and on any such outing I will always volunteer to drive.

Over the years I've noticed, with surprise, that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. First of all, there are the people I know who do not drive at all. Next, there are those who avoid it whenever they can. But then, there are also plenty of folks like me and Cindy Lauper who will drive all night.

I get that driving can be scary at first, and is always dangerous. Experience helps (in fact, now that I've been driving for 30 years or so, I'm ready to revisit that minibike thing: sometimes I think a Vespa or some other scooter or moped might be a good way for me to get to work. I do, after all, have a very short commute.), but that information is not comforting to a new driver.

I have three teen-aged nephews who did not embrace driving, but to be honest, they didn't have to. They live within easy distance of subway and other public transportation, and they have friends who are usually willing to drive them where they want to go. They also had a grandmother who lived her entire 72 years without driving.

I also have a godson around the same age as those other guys, and he can't wait to get his license and buy a car. Of course, he lives in a place where that is really the only way around, and his dad is definitely a king of the road-- that guy will drive anywhere, anytime.

Nature, nurture? Who can say?

 A few months ago, I heard a piece on the radio about how driverless cars might just be a reality in the not so distant future. In such a scenario, nobody would own their own vehicle, rather we would reserve or order one to take us where ever we needed to be. These cars would be guided by a central computer, and so not only would they eliminate traffic fatalities, but they would also be able to route all vehicles efficiently, thus avoiding congestion. Presumably, we would receive accurate travel time information as well, which would make planning trips much easier.

I want to go on record right now: It sounds very reasonable. Yes, it does, but...

 I don't like it.

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