Old Drivers at Christmas Time

The bastards pulled out on the roundabout too slow, so slow in fact that I nearly careened into them.
Fuckwits. Why are old people still allowed to drive? I thought to myself as the icy roads of the street glistened in the momentary sunshine.
I drove my car right up their rear end.
That’ll show them.
Their blue – and quite frankly antiquated – Ford swerved slightly as they rounded a corner. The back of the car swung out and nearly clipped an oncoming driver. He tooted his horn loudly in anger and I smiled.
At least it’s not just me they’re pissing off.
I got a strange satisfaction from the other driver’s aggression. Collective something or other I’m sure it’s called. Christmas time or not, enjoying the condemnation of others that so clearly deserve it couldn’t be a sin.
Watching from right behind their back bumper I noticed that there were all sorts of coats and pillows piled up on the back seat and the small shelf above the boot was stuffed with tinsel.
I pulled my own car back slightly, they couldn’t see my small act of irritation towards them anyway and, no doubt, they would do an emergency stop in the middle of the road just for fun.
I thought back to my own driving test, about four years ago now, and how rigorous and strict they were with me.
I bet they wouldn’t pass a driving test again, I thought maliciously while politely ignoring the fact that I myself probably wouldn’t pass again either.
I took pride in my driving. I was safe and courteous and, above all, I never went above the speed limit. I made sure I was confident without being reckless on the roads. I felt a sort of smug superiority over the old coots in the car in front. Pulling out of the roundabout that slow was dangerous!
I mean thank Goodness for my own astute senses.
I could have crashed right into them! I gave myself a pat on the back for my reflexes.
Tremendous job, truly, well done!
We both stopped at a red light. Their car skidded marginally on the winter road and they came to a standstill over the small white line that marked the legal stopping spot. The front tires of their car rested on the small metal bumps that lined the pedestrian crossing.
A woman and her small child crossed the road. The woman’s face looked stern and she tsked the driver as she passed by.
I smiled again.
The light turned to green and a few seconds went past.
1, 2, 3, 4.
I was about to honk my horn when their brake lights came off and they jutted forward. They were now fully on the pedestrian crossing and the light had turned amber.
They’ve fucking stalled! I CANT BELIEVE- I MEAN WHAT THE-
The light returned to red and I sat in utter disbelief at how this old couple were holding up my day.
I’m busy! I’m important! I have THINGS TO DO! I wanted to shout from the car window.
Why the fuck would they drive at this time anyway? I mean its RUSH HOUR traffic at NINE IN THE MORNING! Have they nothing else to do? Why couldn’t they have waited until after Jeremy Kyle or Cash in the Attic or whatever rubbish the unemployed and the elderly watch while they sit at home all day, before they came gallivanting about the streets?
I was already running late. I was supposed to be at my job a half an hour ago but it had been a good one the night before. Shots after shots and several bottles of wine later and here I was, stuck behind tweedle ancient and tweedle can’t drive for shit, and probably going to get yelled at by my boss.
The light turned green again and, finally, they pulled off through the lights.
I was more irate than ever now. I mean the INJUSTICE of it!
I am a decent, hardworking human yet here I am, having to deal with these morons.
They slowed down again. We were now at fifteen miles an hour and I could feel my blood boiling. Eventually, they flicked on their indicator and turned, still so fucking slowly, into the drive of a large house.
I shot out from behind and pulled up beside them as they turned, adamant that I would show them just how pissed off they had made me.
My middle finger ready, I looked though their driver side window and saw an old man with his tweed cap hold a handkerchief to his nose and blow. The puffiness around his eyes was evident but didn’t make any sense until I looked at his passenger.
A frail old woman with oxygen tubes running into her nose sat by the old man’s side. Her hair was all but gone and the nightie she wore looked stained and grey looking. She was coughing violently as the car stalled again.
She was thrown forward and caught by her seatbelt.
I couldn’t be certain as I drove away down the freezing cold street but, and I am almost sure this is true, I heard her small cry of pain as the rough material of the seatbelt cut into her soft torso and pressed at whatever lurked beneath her wrinkly skin.
It was only as I pulled into the car park behind the shopping centre where I worked that I recognized the name of the house they were driving into.
COTTON CLOUD HOSPICE, I remembered reading.
I knew what Cottoncloud was, everyone did. It was a place that many would check into – but none would ever check out. It was a hospice for those that could no longer be cared for by their own families.
It was a place that you went to die.
Suddenly, everything I had done to them on that short – oh so very short – yet cruel drive came rushing back to me. The smile at the other driver honking his horn, the woman’s tssk at the crossing, getting ready to flip them the bird. I had reveled in the judgment put on the old couple that had pulled out ‘too slow’ in front of me at a roundabout. It was so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Instead of compassion, I had shown ignorance. I didn’t know those people, and yet as so many people do, because they had annoyed me with their driving I had hated them.
Not full on serial killer hate or genocidal hatred but, nonetheless, I had felt that special kind of hatred reserved only for the most ignorant of road users. The most ignorant of people.
The image of her stained nighty was the last thing I could tolerate before I began to cry at their situation. Worse though, was how I had contributed to making the, possibly, most unbearable morning of their life just that little bit worse.
Everyone has a story but I had chosen to value my own above anyone else’s.
I was probably going to get shouted at for being late with no good excuse.
Maybe I need shouted at? I wondered to myself, hot tears rolling down my cheeks in the chilly December air.
Maybe I deserve it.


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