God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Whose Eye on the Road?

I have often thought of writing this post but usually the thought comes as we round road curves, barrel down the autostrada /freeway or ride parallel to a cliff that drops 500 meters to the chasm below. The question that comes to mind is “what is the relationship between the driver and the passenger in your car."

Long ago I read a comment from a woman whose husband periodically expressed frustration about comments she made while he drove. Her response was that she viewed her responsibility in the partnership as being to keep them alive. That resonated totally with me.

I wonder if Ken and I are the norm or unusual. Is his behind the wheel behavior male typical? It definitely is not behavior shared with female drivers--for sure.

In our car, Ken is the sightseer as his neck swivels 180 degrees to get a better view of whatever is on the hill (a cow, windmill, snow-capped mountains, who knows?)—all the while he is driving. Clearly the division of responsibility calls for me to keep eyes on the road--the car in front, the bend, the oblivious to traffic pedestrian or bicyclist, red lights, the car next to us which decides to change lanes as we are side-by-side and anything else that comes into the line of vision.

If you are thinking that this is paranoid exaggeration, I should tell you that Casey often sits petrified in the back seat, telling papa to keep his eyes on the road. Of course, he also tells papa when he is surpassing the speed limit, when he needs to shift or if he hasn’t slowed enough for speed bumps. At eleven he’s ready for his license—without ever having sat behind the wheel. But, I suspect when the time comes, he may emulate his papa--his role model.

Who keeps eyes on the road in your car? The person with foot on the pedal and hands on the wheel or the hapless person next to him?

17 comments:

candi said...

I had to laugh, because this is so us too, my eyes are always on the road whether I am on the driver, passenger or back seat, especially when my husband,father or one of my brothers is driving. It is not that I don't think they are good drivers, they are, but I don't get the sightseeing while handling the wheel. And just like it is a male thing, I think(at least in my family) keeping eyes on the road is a female thing, I remember my mom doing the same thing when my dad drives.

Interesting subject:)

Barbara said...

We have a rule: NO SIGHTSEEING FOR THE DRIVER!, but I have to remind Art about it all the time, especially when the scenery is new and/or breathtaking. Sometimes I wish we could ride the train or bus all the time so that we could BOTH sightsee all the time.

OTOH, riding with our English friends who have their right-hand drive car here in Italy can be just as frightening if you're in the passenger seat (left side). I really don't think they know how dangerously close they are to that center line, and you know how Italian drivers like to drift......EEK!

Kendall said...

This may not help your marriage, but....
Whack him along side his head with a rolled up newspaper when his eyes leave the road.(smile)

Jane said...

Kendall, that is funny! But might that not send him over that cliff?

jdeq said...

Now perhaps jane the answer is for YOU to drive so that Ken could look at all he wanted to without anyone feeling cranky. I'd be thrilled for Paul to take over the wheel and let me look where ever my fancy took my eyes . . .

Sandra (brazitalian8984) said...

A long time ago, we decided, I drive! And I keep the eye on the road and for everything else, while Anthony enjoys the scenery. His driving drives me absolutely nuts and I am constantly looking for the breaks and telling him what to do, after many times almost rear ending somebody else because he was too busy playing with the radio or looking at the scenery, he said I am too neurotic and he gets stressed, so he let me drive...Glad you are having a wonderful time in Italy, Jane, I am enjoying reading your blog.

nancyhol said...

I usually drive, so we have no problem! Except that I rarely get to look around too much.

Gail's Great Escapes said...

Jane, this is so funny! I feel totally comfortable riding with an ITALIAN driver and will even sleep in the car. Something I would never do before!

Hope to see you soon. I leave tomorrow!

Sheena said...

Jane are you picking on Ken's driving again??!!

Recently I commented to my nephew who was driving (in my opinion) too fast and too close to the car in front of us on the M25 'The brakes on this side of the car aren't working'. His only reaction was to look at me (yes, eyes off the road) and smile!

Question. Are women really better drivers - or are men just more relaxed passengers?

Jane said...

Sheena--are you feeling sorry for Ken? And yes, I do believe woman are better drivers than men who tailgate, etc.

Jerry--not a bad idea--perhaps take turns. But...being macho, Ken thinks he should drive.

Gail, contrary to myth, Italians are often better drivers than those in the US. The other day we were on the autostrada and there was a car that kept darting from lane to lane to lane as he wove in and out in what is bizarre driving here. Our conclusion was that he had to be from California.

Gail's Great Escapes said...

Most Italians I know take driving very seriously. They love their cars, they want to get from point A to point B as fast as they can, and they are not distracted by car food, and other things Americans do in our cars.
Cell phones are supposed to be hands-free, though sometimes you see someone breaking this law. They are focused! I feel safer on their highways.....though sometimes going around curves.... ;))

janie said...

I could have written this post myself! My husband constantly is looking around and it amazes me that he hasn't had an accident. I am almost always the driver because he drives me crazy! When he's driving he's looking out the side window even when there's really nothing worth looking at!

Jane said...

"When he's driving he's looking out the side window even when there's really nothing worth looking at!"

Oh Janie, that is so funny as it is so true. Every day here in Greve we pass the same empty field, and everyday I am convinced that Ken will miss the curve or run off the road as he checks out the forever empty field. Of course, it may not be empty as I can't really look to see. :-)

Chiocciola said...

I am an awful driver so I am basically just happy that someone else is driving... Although in Italy, I definitely prefer the train!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jane, surely I could have written this post! Not only dooes Joe watch the scenery, he fiddles with things while driving - the radio, the GPS, whatever!It makes me crazy.Wish I had a brake on the passenger side!
Sheri

Brad'll Do It said...

My Dad told me when he was teaching me to drive that one needs to look away from the road some while driving, or risk being "locked on" and not really see anything. He suggested scanning the mirrors (left, right, rear-view), but also suggested looking away from the road every now and then. So I do.

Jane said...

Sheri--ah yes, the fiddling with knobs--as if I can't work the a/c. But then, my job, is to keep us alive.

Brad, I'll have to give that some thought. Perhaps the wandering eye is a good thing--but somehow, it doesn't soothe my nerves.