My kids know it all too well, I drive too slow. When they were younger, they never complained about it. To them, I drove just perfectly.
It’s no secret to my wife, as well. Once, we arranged a weekend vacation to a holiday cottage together with some friends. “I’ll drive!” said she. “We don’t have all day to get there, and you don’t know how to put the pedal to the metal!” I’m not sure who that woman was/is? She looks vaguely familiar, but she doesn’t act the same as before. She (the one I remember) used to enjoy my driving.
Heck, I drove us across the USA in 1991. 12 weeks on the road visiting everything from National Parks to Graceland in Tennessee. I drove from California to Maryland, without one complaint.
My son now sees a lot of “Real Life Police Shows” on TV. He know how much it’ll cost me if I break the speed limit, fail to signal when turning, really anything involving traffic violations in Denmark – he knows everything about it. “How fast are you driving?”, he asks, “80 Kilometers an hour”, I reply, “And what is the speed limit here?”, he asks, ” 80 Kilometers an hour”, I reply. Silence now reigns from the backseat.
My daughter appears indifferent to everything that occurs. Except when we start off. “Turn on the radio”, she yells from the back. “Louder, I can’t hear anything from back here”. Then after a while, “Listen to whatever you like, I’m putting music in my ears”.
The kilometers roll on. I know if I’m lucky, on the way home I’ll have the car radio to myself. One by one they fall asleep. I now turn the radio to MW, which is sort of like AM radio in the States. 1269 is the frequency for Deutschland Funk – Radio in German. I won’t admit to understanding everything they say, but I find it just as relaxing as those Radio Preachers I used to listen to in the USA at night. Now I’m the one who gets to decide. Occasionally my wife wakes up. “Sorry, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open”. “It’s OK, I’ll wake you when we get closer to home”. My peace and quiet lasts until we enter the tunnel under the Limfjord Canal. Bright lights illuminate the tunnel, waking up the family. “Ow, are we home yet?” asks my son. “No, not yet, but it won’t be long”. Silence again from the backseat.
I sometimes think about driving through Los Angeles on Interstate 5. There were so many cars and equally as many turnoffs. I’m not sure if I could listen to Deutschland Funk in LA? My concentration levels would be taxed as it were, dodging in and out of those 5-lanes of traffic. Once my wife and I took my nieces to Disneyland. It had been a long haul, driving from Placerville to Los Angeles, 9 hours of sitting in a hot car. Temperatures reached easily into the 100s on an August day, and my car never had air-conditioning. I used to console the kids by playing games about upcoming fast food restaurants. In the distance we could see a group of signs, “Who’ll be the first to see…..?” We played that game all the way down the Central Valley. Finally around the Ridge route, we stopped at a rest area. Just a few hours to go and we’ll hit Los Angeles. “How long after that?” asked my niece. “At least another hour to Grandpa’s house”. Silence reigned from the backseat. Everyone fell into their own thoughts. Radio stations had a hard time staying put, driving over the Ridge route, they often disappeared off the dial.
Barren hills greeted us with nary a bush or tree in sight. I knew the route well, as I had often driven those 9 hours to and from LA. I used to take a cassette player with me, hooked into the cigarette lighter. Tapes filled the front of my pick-up among the junk food packages, and soft drink containers. Music or TV shows filled up those hours. I then would tune into the many Country-Western radio stations located in the valley. The Bakersfield ones were in the South, Fresno in the middle, then Sacramento in the North. I used to think about the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, located somewhere off to the right concealed in the haze of the Central Valley.
Another highway with more character than I-5 ran almost parallel to it, just on the Eastern side of the Valley. Highway 99 ran through all the major cities and towns, unlike its newer and more barren brother, I-5. I remember it to be bumpy, narrow and extremely boring, but then most highways are like that wherever you might be. Nobody complained about my driving back then. Yes, it was hot and long, but that wasn’t my fault. Don’t shoot me I’m only the piano player.
My daughter got a ride with some older kids. She didn’t like it at all. “They drove way too fast, not like you Dad”. “I didn’t like it”. I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I interpret that as, “She likes my driving”. Now if I could only convince that woman, who resembles my wife of long ago, that I do a good job of driving in Denmark.
Only not too fast.