Observations of a Retired Person

Just got through driving nearly a thousand miles. It was a long journey over remote desert and isolated countryside. It’s a trip we take every spring and fall. Being a snowbird requires it.

On the road there is a lot of time to think. Long stretches of bleak landscape and miles of open road does make one’s mind wander.

From a few experiences on this trip, I’m beginning to realize that we are slowly changing. I’m seeing a slice of life that you almost never saw before. We are becoming different. Our society is becoming more intolerant, less inclusive, less willing to consider the interests of those around us. With my eyes peering over the top of the steering wheel and watching vast stretches the American West roll by me, I came to the conclusion that the little niceties of human interaction have taken a back seat to unabashed self-absorption.

At first I thought that I should just chalk it all up to finally reaching the age where I’ve become jaded and cynical. After all I didn’t grow up in this generation. The culture has changed, I told myself. I’m magnifying every perceived slight more than it should be.

But then I concluded, “No”!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that a simple act of common courtesy will go a lot further than brazen self-interest. I’m not usually a complainer. I always try to lean towards the positive side of an issue, giving every situation the benefit of the doubt rather than a rush to judgment. But my observations on this trip, and other scenarios of everyday life, got me thinking in a different direction.

Observation #1

Why won’t anybody let me change lanes when I’m signaling my intention to do so?

Okay. Maybe this is a little too much to ask. Who knows? But this happened to me in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Tell me anywhere else in life where someone tells you their going to do something (which is perfectly legal and within their right to do) and when they actually do it everybody gets bent out of shape.

Has this happened to you?

You’re going down a multi-lane freeway, cars everywhere with the flow of traffic going 70 mph plus. You want to move into the lane to your left and turn on your signal. A steady stream of cars glide by you. Looking into your driver’s side mirror you see a long procession of cars taking up the rear.

Patiently you wait. Your left turn signal blinks endlessly. Finally you see your chance to make a move. But you have to be quick. Jerking your steering wheel to the left, you deftly move into the small gap left by the car in front of you. The car behind you immediately honks in apparent annoyance.

You watch in your rearview mirror as the car that honked at you shoves its way into the lane to your right and roars past you while the driver flips you off as he goes past.

But why?

You did what you said you were going to do. Would it have killed him to tap on his breaks and let you in?
I guess so.

Observation # 2

Why do some people think that the spot right next to a gas pump is part of the parking lot?

Has this happened to you?

You pull into a very busy truck stop, cars everywhere coming and going. You drive towards the filling station and pull in behind a car that is next to a pump and wait. After a few seconds you realize that nobody is in this car. Nobody is standing next to it filling their tank. No one is anywhere near this vehicle.

You look around looking for another pump to go to – but this place is packed. Cars are everywhere and most pumps have a vehicle waiting behind the car that is being filled.

You wait, and wait and wait. Cars coming and going.

Finally you see a young couple coming out of the convenience store and start walking towards the car you’re parked behind. The young woman gets into the passenger side door. But to your dismay her companion waves at somebody at another pump and disappears off to your left and out of sight.

You breathe a big sigh of frustration and look around for an escape. But there is nowhere to go. You’re stuck.

At last the guy shows up and you think you’re just about home free. But to your utter shock and horror he takes his time as he begins to pump gas into his car.

Does he even realize this is a busy place and people are waiting? Does he even care?
You sit in your car fuming, your hands gripping the wheel in a death grip. He glances over at you a couple of times with a look of indifference. You make sure your not smiling when he does.

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1 Comment

  1. You are not alone.

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