June 7, 2011

Aging and Driving: A Wake-Up Call in More Ways Than One!

I celebrated "Drowsy Driving Prevention Week" by demonstrating what happens when you ignore the warning signals of drowsiness. I dozed off at the wheel while driving downtown last Friday, crossed over the right-hand lane beside me, and woke up when the car ricocheted off the retaining wall. Fortunately, no other cars were behind me in either lane. I wasn't hurt. The car had a badly dented front wheel and some new dents and scratches on my 1996 Honda Civic. But it was drivable.

In a wacky coincidence, last week actually was "Drowsy Driving Prevention Week."  See http://bit.ly/ijSeiA.

That link cites an AAA study showing that drowsy driving was involved in one of six deadly crashes, one in eight crashes involving occupant hospitalization, and one in 14 crashes resulting in a vehicle being towed. Fortunately, my incident didn't fall into any of those categories. But it easily could have. I lucked out.

I have no one to blame but myself. One of the side effects of Parkinson's is excessive daytime sleepiness. Also, all of my adult life I've tried to schedule a "power nap" right after lunch, since that's my drowsiest time. I should have known better when I started feeling sleepy in my post-lunchtime drive downtown for a haircut.

Serendipity at Work Yet Again

I've often remarked on the role that serendipity has played in my life.What seems like a calamity at the time often turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

This accident is a minor league example. I was lucky to escape without injury to myself or others. And the damage to the car forced me to make a decision I'd been putting off for years -- getting a new car to replace my beloved 1996 Honda. I should have made that decision several months ago when the car suddenly went dead while driving down a busy road. Fortunately this happened on a city street. But the thought of what would have happened had I been on a superhighway did give me pause.

Fun and Games at the Car Dealership

As I said, the accident happened last Friday afternoon.  During my usual 4 a.m. meditation on Saturday, I decided I was getting signals that it was time to buy a new car: 1) the accident, 2) a notice that my car was due for its annual registration, and 3) the gas tank was nearly empty.

So, Saturday morning I headed out to the dealership where I'd bought the '96 Honda. When I walked in, I was immediately directed to Dave (not his real name), an older gentleman who, it turned out, was 82 years old, just like me. I'd already decided I wanted a Honda Fit, and a test drive settled the issue.

During the paperwork process, Dave and I chatted about this and that and discovered that we both had the same dermatologist. Dave showed me the recent incision on his arm where he'd had a melanoma removed, and I lifted up my shirt to show him my incision where a mysterious -- but not clearly cancerous -- rash had been removed.

While we were talking, a shapely young woman in a tight-fitting mini-skirt and low-cut blouse kept walking by. I commented to Dave that she probably sold a lot of cars to their male customers. He didn't respond. I realized why when we got to the point in the proceedings where I was to be given choices to make on the extra options that I could add to the car. She arrived to conduct that process. By then, my friends who had come to the dealership with me had provided me with a huge, delicious veggie wrap for my lunch.

I'm sure the average straight male car buyer would find it difficult to say "no" to her. She seemed a bit annoyed when I kept munching my sandwich and saying "no" to every option she suggested.

The final step was nailing down the financials with a business manager who was from Taiwan and married to a woman from China. So we mixed the business details with talk about my two trips to China and one to Tibet.

I hate shopping and therefore buy almost everything at Amazon.com. But this excursion turned into a surprisingly pleasant experience. A nice ending to a lifetime of car buying, since I fully expect that this car purchase will be my last.

Here we are, the new car and happy buyer:


Mano said...

Well, take me out for a spin!

Mano said...

Take me out for a spin!

Kathy Muller said...

John, I am so glad this misadventure didn't bring hard to you or anyone else.  Congratulations on your new car.  Enjoy it and drive safely.   Funny, I remember  when you got the 1996 Honda to replace an older one.  

Kathy Muller said...

"Harm", not "hard"!!!  Didn't bring "harm" to you!!!

John Schappi said...

You may also remember my story of the Honda purchase prior to that one, which clearly shows my disinterest in cars and distaste for shopping. Since I liked the Honda Civic Hatchback that had died, I went to the dealer and quickly bought a replacement without even test driving it.  Only when I got it home did I realize it wasn't a hatchback. I had to take it back and replace it with a hatchback.

John Schappi said...

Stop nagging. Your turn will come.