It’s always nice to get a new car. Yesterday we collected ours from the dealer and I thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minute drive home. What I did miss though was that new car smell. I seem to remember a leathery aroma, but with my loss of that sense it was no longer to be enjoyed. Dorothy told me it was still there though. Still to be enjoyed by others. Just not me!
There was a message waiting when we got home. It was from our insurance company. They were most anxious to inform me that my driver’s license had elapsed….some two months earlier, on my birthday……and that I couldn’t drive until it was renewed. I was naturally shocked and stunned by this news and damned the Government for not informing me that the renewal was due. So, down to the License Office it was, depleting the bank account by $60.00, and I was legal again, for at least another 4 years.
One wonders though had I been stopped by the police, what would have occurred. A ticket no doubt, irrespective of the error being that of the Government’s. Not mine. No. Definitely not mine! But that wouldn’t have been their view now. Would it? They’d have hung me out to dry….fining me for “the error of my ways”…..telling me it was MY fault. That it was ME who had received a letter of required renewal and I had either ignored it or had forgotten. Yes. That’s exactly what would have happened. I know it.
I recall a similar incident, many years ago when Dorothy was stopped by a keen-eyed policeman who noticed that her car registration was not valid. She received a ticket for the “offence”, and being the kind of guy I am, persuaded her to let me fight it on her behalf. Our case was water-tight, of course, since we had not received a renewal notice…….and to heck, who can remember their birthday anyway. So off to court it was. One single judge, Dorothy and me, pleading our case. The judge was polite, naturally. He sympathised with our position, telling us that there was absolutely nothing he could do. Dorothy was guilt as h__ under the law, so be it! We had to pay the fine in total. No discount! Just the fine, plus the car parking, plus the gas to get there, plus our time wasted…….all caused by government failure. And to think, when we tell this story everyone sees it as being funny.
After the guilty verdict the judge, having noticed our accents asked which part of Scotland we’d come from and then began a conversation between us that lasted for some 15 minutes thereafter, exchanging stories from the past….talking of his parents, and where they’d been raised……and so on. He had turned from an Officer of the Court into a human being. A person that we could relate to, could laugh and joke with. A friend almost…..well, maybe not a friend……but you know what I mean. Afterwards the fine didn’t hurt so much. That I can remember.
THE NEW CAR MANUAL:
Yes, I’ve just been through it…..not the whole thing, just certain parts….those parts that keep reminding me of my bad driving habits…….telling me of things that I used to do, but don’t do now. For example, driving in Dundee, Scotland required skill. The City is built on an extinct volcano, therefor it is hilly, mighty hilly, being the main reason for manual gear box clutches going defunct. Kaput even! The hand break is used, not as a permanent stopping device alone, but so also as a means of holding the car on a hill, when stopped temporarily, ensuring that it doesn’t fall back an inch or two at take off from a standing position.
What the bad drivers often do though is ignore the hand brake, holding the car on the hill using the clutch, in a temporary stop position, and easing the clutch out when they wish to proceed from that stop…..and that is exactly why those clutches don’t last all that long. So, most drivers in Dundee became bad drivers on this point alone, to the detriment of their bank account!
And that’s where I come in. I emigrate to Canada, and finding it to be reasonable flat I conveniently forget about the hand brake, and have never used it in 41 years. Not once! So, when I read my new manual I find the following: “Always use the handbrake when parked“! And I say, well, nothing’s changed. I’m still a bad driver!
But that aside I still believe that I’m really a good driver, deep down. No joking…a really good driver. I respect lane discipline, except on the 400 series roads where I always hug the centre lane, and I turn left into a left lane and right into a right lane, always making certain that I signal on ALL turns…….AND generally speaking come to a full stop at stop signs, taking great care not to exceed the speed limit by more than 10% if need be.
I’d love to have one of these rear view cameras that tell you what’s back there when you’re reversing. With me in these older years my inflexible body makes it quite difficult to twist and turn to ensure that nobody’s in the way, so I go through a ritual that includes saying, out loud, whether alone in the car or otherwise, the following. ” All clear left, all clear right, all clear behind” plus a repeat, whilst slowly backing out of the driveway onto the road. It’s a bore really, but I’ve read of too many deaths of young kids through inadequate reversing, and it’s not going to happen to me! What’s interesting though is that those in the car, as I go through this ritual, become part of the process, whether they’re adults or children, and quite often join in the verbal check list. So it’s educational….and that’s a bonus!
It’s the same with seat belts, and when I pick up the grandkids the ritual includes a check on everyone’s seatbelt and whether it’s fastened or not. On one occasion we were all set to go and, noticing a ball in the driveway, had to release my seatbelt, open the door, get out and remove the ball to a safe place. When I re-entered the car, that was still running, I put it in gear, and before I could get into the reversing ritual heard in grand harmony from my two IDIOT grandkids, “Granda, your seat belt!” Yes, I’d forgotten. I’m not perfect you know!
But, needless to say, my grandkids, all of them, are nowhere near to being idiotic. I just say that when I’m mad….when I’ve done something wrong……..when I see them being faster than me on the draw, which is in most cases these days. They’re MY grandkids you see. They’re clever. Very clever!