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July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
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Navigating The Journey: Bein Odam L’Chaveiro

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One driver told me I had not signaled, while the teenage bochur in the passenger seat insulted me. I was certain I had signaled. The driver told me my light did not work, while the son continued to use some very loud and rude language. I checked my signal lights when they drove away, wondering why a parent would allow a bochur to talk that way. The lights worked. I bet they are still laughing at me.Wahrhaftig-022814-Traffic

I stopped talking with drivers after the incident where a young driver screeched to a stop, then blared the horn at me. Apparently, the distraction of holding the phone and conversing on it prevented my reversing vehicle from being detected soon enough to prevent the young lady from stopping short. As an unsecured youngster climbed back onto the rear seat, I asked the driver if her parents approved of talking on the phone while speeding down a residential street and endangering her brother’s life. She began crying, so I did not wait for a reply. I do not know exactly what my unlucky friends and relatives felt after causing dismemberment or death while driving, but I am certain it was an extremely bad experience with long-lasting effects.

I have a new parking procedure – start to signal, slow to a crawl, pause next to the parking space to make the car behind stop, pull forward while angling to prevent the car behind from passing and tearing off my mirror, ignore the aggressive honking and rude gestures, back into the space. Perhaps an old bear can’t be taught to dance, but I have learned to park my car in Boro Park.

There was a time I regarded rubber bumper mats as something reserved for extremely fussy people who were entirely too protective of their car’s finish. After being assessed $1,600.00 for damaged inflicted by others on my leased minivan’s bumpers, I learned why people drive around with $100 worth of ugly protection. My new car was delivered on a Thursday night. I bought the rear guard on Friday morning, the first time I drove the car. Friday night I emerged from shul and saw a car parked behind mine. It was unsuccessfully attempting to be far enough from a hydrant by pressing solidly into the rear of my brand new car. The mat prevented damage. My only disappointment was that the other car did not receive a parking ticket.

I now know the value of bumper guards, but I can’t understand why someone would risk a $150 fine (and five points) for holding a cell phone while driving instead of investing in a $2 headset. I am still waiting for a response from economists contacted regarding this mystery. Maybe they thought my question was stupid, but based on the number of drivers I see, there must be some extraordinary value in holding the phone. Perhaps these drivers are texting their stockbroker or investment banker for solutions to their excess money dilemma. Whatever the reason, on an average weekday I see enough people to fill a small auditorium holding and using cell phones as they drive. It is usually easy to spot them as they drift towards the sidewalk with their heads down or hold up traffic when the light changes. These people are obviously doing something very important, for which we would easily sacrifice our own time and safety, so it is not a problem.

We all fail to be the best driver possible on occasion. Sometimes we are in a rush, distracted, or just not aware of an inconsiderate action. That sort of thing is forgivable up to a point, but often it seems that driving is some kind of selfishness contest. Have you seen drivers mindlessly block traffic to load or unload passengers and cargo while a huge parking space is only a few feet away? In many places, launching across oncoming traffic to make a left turn as the light goes green might cause a collision. It works in Brooklyn, because we have come to expect unsafe, illegal, and rude driving habits.

About the Author: Boruch Wahrhaftig resides in New York when not visiting China, Israel and South Africa. His writing on culture, science, and personal well-being is published in the USA and globally. Books on inspiration within nature and edible science are under construction.


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