Why do men always think they are better drivers than women? Is it something they think they inherit, like knowledge of tools and engines? They just grow up knowing how to do it? Is it because cars are generally their territory? Maybe under the hood and around the tires, but that doesn't mean they know how to drive well. After all, the kitchen is my territory, but just because I know how to use my blender doesn't necessarily mean I'm a great cook.
Recently I went on an extended trip with my husband and college-aged son. We'd been driving for several days and after stopping for supper one night, my husband asked if I would drive for a while. I settled in behind the wheel and the men settled in by a portable DVD player. I drove for about three hours and most of that time I was hemmed in by semi trucks, and we were going through some winding roads between Nashville and Chattanooga. It was a struggle to stay directly in our lane with trucks passing us and us passing trucks. At one point my son commented that we could reach out and touch one of them. My husband said, "Yeah, mom got a little close that time." Who needs commentary when they're driving? That certainly wasn't helping! Several times as we went around curves, the outside tires of our truck didn't go off the road, but they hit the painted line that marks the beginning of the shoulder. That happened three times. Each time my husband looked up and asked if I was okay. I wasn't falling asleep. I was struggling with the trucks, and the night ... and the commentary, actually. Then we drove over a seam in the in the road. Both of the men looked up from their movie to ask what I hit. I didn't hit anything! It was a seam in the surface of the road! The third time my husband asked if I was okay, I snapped sarcastically, "I'm not sleepy! I'm just a lousy driver!" My son, who still hasn't learned to keep his mouth shut, piped up and said, "I vote that dad or I drive tomorrow." Nice kid.
We finally pulled off and found a motel (a hole in the wall, by the way. Haven't stayed in a dump like that in years.) The next morning my husband woke up sick. He was dizzy, the world was spinning and he was having trouble just standing. So I did most of the packing, then I took the first load of luggage down and moved the truck closer to our room. My husband said he couldn't drive, so I planned on taking the first shift behind the wheel, trading off with our son later. The motel was on a very busy street and we were leaving during morning rush hour. I pulled to the parking lot exit and waited to make a left turn. We were actually at a stoplight, although there was no light in our direction. The cross traffic had a light, and across the street was a side street with a stoplight. So eventually I would have been able to turn left. We waited for a while and then my husband (why are men also such backseat drivers?) Told me to turn right or we'd be here forever. I dutifully obeyed, and just after we turned right I saw in the rearview mirror that the light finally changed. We could have turned left. I made a u-turn and headed back toward the interstate. As we came to the top of a hill, I saw that at the bottom was another stoplight, red, with several cars waiting there. Coming over the hill and seeing all those brakelights startled me, even though we weren't right on them yet. I tapped the brakes to slow down. I didn't slam on the brakes or come to a complete stop. But in the instant that I saw the brakelights and tapped my own, the light turned green. So I hit the brakes, and when the men looked up, all they saw was a green light and cars pulling away from us. My husband got irritated enough to say forget it, he would drive because he couldn't take my driving for the whole day. I tried to argue back, but he insisted I was not getting on the interstate. So we stopped, filled up with gas and bought breakfast and then he climbed behind the wheel.
I admit, I was steaming. My driving wasn't that bad! But if he thought he was so much better, then fine. Let him drive, sick as he is. He's a little directionally challenged, so as we got to the interstate, he asked if this was his exit. I answered, "Mmmhmmm." I pulled his breakfast sandwich out of the bag and set it next to him and then started in on my own. Usually if we're eating and he's driving, I'll unwrap his food or make sure he has a straw in his cup. This time I wasn't doing a thing. If he was so good, let him do it all at once. After a few more "mmmhmmm's" from me, he gave me an amused look and said, "You can talk to me." So I did. I said something unkind. He went into again how lousy a driver I was. That I couldn't stay on the road and that I even ran over things. I pointed out again that the only thing I ran over was a seam in the road. Conversation died after that. Traffic was heavy, but moving along at a good clip until we suddenly ran over a re-tread. You know those pieces of tire you always see on an expressway? My husband ran over one. A big one. The silence inside the cab of the truck was so heavy you could reach out and touch it.
An hour and a half later, my husband pulled over to "fill up". He chose a gas station that wasn't open yet. Then he said we didn't need gas yet anyway and did I want to drive. I said sure, and we switched places. He settled back to go to sleep and I drove through the entire state of Georgia. I stayed on the road, and I didn't hit any foreign objects. Interestingly enough, this happened a month ago and we've never discussed it again.