Driving Imagination

God but aren’t there are a lot of bloody awful drivers in the world?

You go out in your car, it’s like being in the middle of an ‘80’s video game. That guy is gonna pull out in front of you, this old dear is gonna park her car in the middle of the road, this girl is gonna drive three inches behind you while doing her lippy in the rear view mirror.

It often annoys me to see how downright badly people drive and I regularly find it hard to hold my peace about it.

Sometimes I berate them after they have driven away (amusing but largely pointless), sometimes I fume silently and promise to blog about it - and sometimes I go at them while they are still there (which is often quite dangerous).

Me? I think I’m quite a good driver. Not in a rapid gear change, heavy revving, wear pointless black gloves sort of a way. I think I’m focused and steady and fairly safe.

As a matter of fact, I’ve developed a bit of a theory on the reason why this might be…

(What? Oh, you’re off? Well see you next time maybe, eh? I know it’s boring but I just want to get it down on paper… you know how these things are.)

My theory is simple. I think there is one key element which sets all good drivers apart from the hoards of useless ones out there. No, it’s not gender, I have no time for that discussion at all. Well, maybe I have a little time… but not right now.

This thing that sets us good drivers apart… it’s Imagination.

I do a bit of writing, I don’t know if you know this. I like to imagine stories and scenarios and discussions and arguments and gun battles and such-like. It occupies a surprising amount of my time. For this reason, I am gifted with a very graphic imagination. I’m not bragging here – it can be something of a curse.

If I get involved in visualising a scenario, that scenario can take over my mind to quite a startling extent. The regular world can simply ‘go away’ for a time and whatever thing is ‘playing out’ in my head will be there, wide and vividly coloured, in front of my eyes. This visualising can halt me in the middle of a conversation or even stop me in my tracks when I am walking. It’s like how they sometimes show flashbacks in movies, without the wobbly-screen bit at the start.

Okay, so we've established that I have some level of imagination. My point is that this helps me enormously towards being a safer driver. The reason is simple. I can ‘see’ what might happen or, more to the point, I can see what might have very nearly just happened and the visceral – often gory – truth of what I see scares me and troubles me into being a little bit more careful as I drive down the road.

These driving scenarios are always playing quietly in the back of the mind. Is there a child behind that car? Will I be able to stop if she runs out. Will I hit her and watch with horror as her little ragdoll heap tumbles up and bloodily shatters my windscreen. How hot will her blood be as it spatters my face? What will the smells be like in my car then, burnt rubber from the all- too-late-brakes, some fruity shampoo from her hair in my face and perhaps… other things too - things I can visualise but do not wish to mention.

The possibility of what I could do with my car is kept in the front of my brain by my imagination and this keeps me slower and safer than some others you may see.

‘Not a saint – never a saint – just a slightly scared motorist who understands what my car might do on my behalf.

The proof of my theory lies mostly in its corollary.

The next time you see someone driving badly, look at them closely. You will see. Whoever they are, they are not creatures of imagination. They do not dream of what they and their car might one day inadvertently do to somebody else.

I really hope they never have to find out.


hope said...

"For this reason, I am gifted with a very graphic imagination. I’m not bragging here – it can be something of a curse."

Wow, does that ever feel familiar! :)

My Dad told me from day one, "There is no such thing as offensive driving...it's all defensive." Think ahead, was his motto. And I do...maybe if not quite as dramatically as you, but that may be a girl thing. ;)

As for the impulse toward road rage, I lost that when a police officer speaking to my group once said, "I don't care if you have the right of way if taking it will get you killed because an idiot tries to cut you off. Let the idiot go ahead. The cemetery isn't full yet....let him get the first spot."

Well written...because telling it is better than using your vehicle to make a point. :P

Susan at Stony River said...

Exactly. EXACTLY! I should never have had kids---when they run down the stairs I can just 'see' them tripping, falling badly, breaking their necks, and me caring for them with wheelchairs and sippy cups the rest of their lives. Driving becomes a nightmare.

Speaking of which, my oldest kid now drives. THAT should scare us all. I told her before we left her there---"Just remember, they're ALL out to KILL you. Drive accordingly." The road is full of idiots.

I could rant about this one for hours---I'll let it go now. LOL Great post!

Lucy Dawson said...

Nice blog, and very familiar. It's about imagination isn't it? Can be a curse but ultimately vital to self-preservation...
Nice one x

Laura Brown said...

Typo alert: I do a bit of writing, I don’t know it you know this.

I can see everything happening when I write too. I hear the conversation as if I am in the room. I wake up hearing them blabbing away even. I just try to type fast enough, or wake up enough to turn on the computer first. When I take buses I bring along pen and paper cause I get some of my best ideas on the bus and in the shower.

Laura Brown said...

PS- I'm not driving these days so there is one less lunatic on the road. However, I warn you in advance (should you come to Canada) I am on the sidewalks! I can come up with all kinds of imaginative ideas to do there. I do spend a lot of time waiting for the bus after all.

Elisabeth said...

I took two years of twice weekly lessons when I learned to drive, mostly because my parents could not take me out for practice and because my instructor told me I was 'phobic' about driving.
Thirty years later I like to think I'm an okay driver, though my daughters tell me otherwise.

Too slow, they say, but I do not consider myself slow. Like you, I consider I'm thoughtful, however much I might occasionally get distracted by whatever preoccupations are to hand.

In Australia we have wonderful, if not strict road rules, that keep us safer. People resent them, but I do not.

When we were driving in Italy a few months ago, the sheer speed of it all terrified me.

Though there must be cultural and geographical differences when it comes to roads and rules and driving, dangerous drivers persist everywhere. I think your posting is therefore timely, if only the dangerous drivers would read it.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes...my other half could have written this post! He is forever saying things like 'what is wrong with people? Why do they drive so close...don't they know a person might have to break suddenly?' etc. etc. etc.

I just avoid driving whenever possible of course.


Miragi said...

Excellent points! My imagination gets me through many a driving experience...and keeps me from driving over many ignorant souls.

What is worst for me is when someone drives so far up my hindquarters that I can damn near floss my teeth with their hair....never has any driving maneuver been so very tempting as the Brake Check...especially if I see that they are on their phone whilst driving...and since they're so close, I can pretty much see everything they are doing in my rearview mirror.


My husband tells me all the time that I should learn to drive a truck. I, however, know that to put ME behind 18 wheels would not turn out favorably for anyone. Ride with a truck driver sometime and watch exactly how ignorant people are and how many really do have death wishes.....

Obkb.....I could ramble on and on....too much coffee! Great post!!


Debbie said...

My husband was fascinated and a bit scared the first time he rode with me. I was blessing angry drivers and wishing them a better day.

You see, I visualize a stream of pink clouds in front of and behind me as I drive. I believe it is sending peace to each person as needed.

My husband wasn't sure if he was pleased at my happy and peaceful state or a bit unnerved that perhaps I wasn't quite right!

Ken Armstrong said...

Hope: For all my bragging, I have a deep rooted impulse towards road rage which I manage to keep pretty tightly buttoned down. Your point is very well made and I appreciate it.

Susan: I was at the movies with a girl in Leicester Square many years ago. As we came out, she fell down the stairs. I picked her up and said, "I *knew* that was going to happen." (Which I did, I had just visualised it).

Then I tubed home alone...

Lucy: I'm glad you said it too. This imagination-thing *can* be a curse.

Laura: It takes a true pal to point out bogeys and typos. Thanks, I really appreciate it. :)

How do you write down the good ideas you get in the shower? In soap on the door, perhaps?

I'll look out for you on the sidewalks if ever I get there. I'll give you a lift if the bus is late or, more probably, get in the queue behind you. :)

Elisabeth: We look to Australia to show us how to get the road safety messages across. Nobody does it better.

Rachel: See, I *like* your Hubby, we're two of a kind, me and him. I can feel it. :)

Miragi: There's nothing worse than looking in the rear view mirror and seeing somebody so close that you think they're in the back seat. (ahem) The rear fog lights look a lot like brake lights if you click them on fast... I didn't say that. :)

Debbie: When I drive I often send a cloud after bad drivers too... my one is blue though. :)

Jim Murdoch said...

When I was young I thought the accelerator only had two positions and my favourite of the two was foot-to-the-floor. Unlike a lot of youngsters I didn't have posters of fast cars hanging on my bedroom walls nor did I salivate over cars I would only be able to drive in my dreams, no, my problem was one of impatience – driving was a waste of time, plain and simple, and the less time I frittered away behind the wheel the more I could get done with the rest of my day. That changed in my mid-thirties when I suppose I became a man even though I fought the charge for several years after that. Now I don't even own a car and haven't done for about fifteen years. I lost interest. I began reading on the bus and that was time reclaimed. I still have a similar attitude to wasting time – that hasn't changed – and you'll often find me lying in bed at might unable to sleep and getting increasingly annoyed because of the time I'm wasting.

Claire Boyles said...

interesting how you describe wandering off into your own imaginary world, stopping you mid conversation or mid walk then turn that into being a safe driver- I was thinking Jeez I hope he doesn't wander off into an imaginary scenario whilst he's driving ;)

You do make a good point, as do the other guys commenting here- defensive driving is key. I'll notice a red light or a car pulling out way way before the average driver does, because I look ahead, expect the unexpected.

Knowing the rules of the road does help with safety too.

My biggest bug-bear of drivers is not leaving enough distance between you & the car in front- especially on the Motorways- it really can save lives.

Ken Armstrong said...

Hi Jim: I drove fast when I was young too - amend that - I don't exactly drive slowly these days either but I'm almost desperately alert.

Claire: You've got me worried with that point! In truth, the fear of doing damage whilst driving keeps me firmly in the here and now while behind the wheel. People often remark how I never take my eye off the road. You can talk to me all you want and I will talk back... but I won't look at you.

Sam Wyld said...

That's a good theory. I'm exactly the same!! It's the reason I get so freaked out passing a serious accident... I always think that had I not gone back in the house for a forgotten wallet/phone/sunglasses it could've been me.

I get really weary of locals who overtake me on a country road whilst I'm travelling at 60mph. It disheartens me intensely to think they quite possibly just don't care what the speed limit is.

Having said that, I also see cats stuck in trees that are actually bin bags.

E-J said...

"The possibility of what I could do with my car is kept in the front of my brain by my imagination and this keeps me slower and safer than some others you may see."

When I am at the wheel, that possibility is not so much in the front of my brain as seared onto my eyeballs ... which probably explains why I have yet to pass a driving test. I am slower and safer only because I walk.

Laura Brown said...

When I'm in the shower I just keep repeating the idea over and over, adding to it along the way. Then I write it down while I'm dripping on my keyboard.