Sunday, February 06, 2005

Passenger Over-reaction

As you know from previous posts, everyone in this family drives and everyone thinks their driving is the best and everyone else's driving is life threatening.

The truth is that all driving is life-threatening here as no traffic laws are enforced. Pakistan is the land of creative driving. Each person drives with disregard of common sense and laws alike. The result of this situation is that every trip in the car comes with a variety of near misses, almost head-on crashes, or side-swipes that just miss by an inch. When you are the driver, you know you have an inch or two before collision and you feel in control. The passenger is hitting the invisible break, banging on the dash board, screaming his lungs out or praying, while the driver calmly takes "evasive action" and saves the day.

This week, Owl and I were in the car, it was night and I was driving. Ahead of us in the road was a cement mixer trailer left abandoned in a busy and dark road. You may wonder at the logic of this, but here any time or any place a vehicle gets a flat tire or a breakdown, the idiots here don't push it to the side of the road, they leave it right in the roadway.

So, as a bike rider is passing the trailer, I begin to pass the biker. I can see a car coming at me. I check to see if I can return safely to my lane, and was just about to make the lane switch, when Owl starts beating the passenger side window, crying "OhmyGod, OhmyGod!" while attempting to curl herself into a tiny ball. I thought, "Oh, She must be seeing a second bike rider that I hadn't noticed. It's not safe to switch lanes." I started to slow down, and scan the next lane to see why it was unsafe. Of course, the car approaching is getting closer and closer, finally, I think, I HAVE to change lanes NOW, if there's a bike rider, he had better get out of my way."

At that point, I ducked back into my lane just in time to avoid a head on collision. Owl starts screaming at me. I realise she started this whole over reaction of "OHMYGOD" because of the approaching car. I'm livid because her over reacting has nearly caused an accident. We are both angry and not speaking to each other for the rest of the evening. Abez, the family judge and jury has declared us both at fault and has issued the edict that the passengers shouldn't distract the driver. Her new mantra for family harmony is, "Passenger over-reaction can cause serious accidents." I'm trying to avoid driving with Owl and limiting my passenger reactions so as not to distract the driver.

It's not easy.