Posted in A Moment in My Life

“The Nutty Pan Effect”

A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Holy smokes! It’s a dangerous world out there. Don’t be misled when you see an unblemished vehicle with a mature, sensible driver at the helm. Phooey! They’re the worst kinds. That’s what they want you to believe. They give you that false sense of security, and then wham they show you what they are—idiots! They weren’t always this way, mind you. 

Your first impression was correct—for another time and another place—pre-shelter in place when life was normal, and people tended to their P’s and Q’s as expected, they were sensible drivers. Something about being quarantine brings out the nutty in us. I want to think that we are who we are regardless if anybody is watching or not, but in this pandemic, I’m seeing all sorts of things that I never imagined, proving that I know nothing. People are mysterious. People are crazy. Idiots! All of us! It could be that the mere act of being isolated brings out all the traits that we buried while we were playing grownups. 

Maybe not. Perhaps, the simple solution here is that we forgot all the good habits that we’ve formed over the years by being out of our daily routine. You know how you can’t remember something that happened yesterday, but you could recite verbatim something from your youth? I know this is true for me. I remember being on the switchboard at my first office job where the daily caller asked for “291,” but I can’t tell you my work number without looking. 

I think that’s what is happening here. Many people aren’t used to driving anymore, having been in quarantine for over half a year. When they are out on the road, they do things that they might have done when they started driving but not usually.

Here’s what I mean. I minded my own business following a lane of cars going way too slow for my liking on El Camino when I moved into the middle lane as soon as it was safe. As if on cue, the driver ahead of me stole my cleared spot in the new lane forcing me to hit my brakes hard as the driver cut me off and immediately swerved into the far-left lane, leaving me stumped with my mouth hanging open. Where does he think he is? At Malibu Grand Prix?

Had there not been another crazy driver who crossed my path, I wouldn’t have connected this reckless driver to the pandemic’s cause and effects. A little way down the road, another driver ahead of me decided to change lanes out of our lane. Once he vacated, I moved forward only to have him slide back, forcing me to hit my brake since I didn’t want to become an ornament on his rear. As suddenly as he popped back in, he popped out again. Only to cut me off at the last minute just as I was about to make my right turn. He had to turn first—ahead of me. What’s up with that? I swear these drivers forget that this is a real road, and we’re not playing bumper cars.

I know I was clowning around when I called people idiots. They’re not. I was being funny, but seriously, this is why I think being isolated has caused us to forget how civilization works. I knew months ago that I was forgetting how to drive and made a point to go out at least once a week to keep up my skills, but now, I think we need to brush up on the rules of the road to avoid the cause and effects of the pandemic, what I call the nutty pan effect.

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