Speeding confessions of a socially anxious dad
I am a speeder. I was caught speeding. Driving too fast. Caught red handed.
In my defence I’ve recently said: “But that’s my first driving offence, after 17 years!”
My excuse? I was really busy, stressed out, and needed to get to a meeting on time.
The implication being that I have never driven above the speed limit before, and this was some strange anomaly.
Of course that’s not true. For anyone.
So you get a letter from the PSNI. A scary letter talking about court and penalty points and prison and what will happen in the showers.
You also get a letter from the AA saying “If you want to make this go away, come and do our course.”
So you go for the easy option, and register for the course.
I had the course this week. And as a result there are 2 reasons why I will do my best to make improvements.
1. You have to go to a room full of people you have not seen before and sit with them for four hours.
To give you context, i have a phobia of cinemas. Not because of the cinema itself, or the movie… but because of humans, and how humans behave when they are in public spaces.
So, I enter the room confidently and scan quickly looking for someone like me, someone safe to sit beside for four hours. I see a guy just like me… young, good looking, a successful executive, well dressed (ahem)…. He’s my guy. We’ll get on just fine.
So I sit in the circle, and the course kicks off.
Immediately I realise the error of my ways. This guy is a chronic nail biter. I discreetly cast my eyes down to his fingers and see little stumps of what used to be fingers – the nails barely millimeters in length.
He really has to get stuck in there to get any purchase on those nails. I hear the clickety click of saliva, the snippety snip of nails breaking, more saliva…. Constantly.
He takes his hands out, inspects the stumps…. “Yeah, there’s more!” he thinks.
Combined with this, both his knees are jiggling constantly!
Oh my God this is torture! I will never speed again!
To his left is another guy. His delightful tick soon starts to emerge. He places his knuckle in his right nostril…. And snorts the contents of his head towards the back of his skull. He takes his knuckle, and applies the same to the other side.
Both snorts are followed by a wincing expression; eyes fully closed… obviously the shock of smeg hitting his brain was too much to disguise.
To top off this little ritual, he’d release a short, deep burp.
This would happen every 7-8 minutes. For four hours.
Meanwhile… clickety click, snippety snip. Inspect. Bite. Inspect. Bite.
If this doesn’t sound like enough, there is a dress rehearsal outside for a large event. Think Olympics Opening ceremony, organised by the Boys Brigade.
They are playing Danny Boy at full volume! On repeat. It;s like a pan pipes remix.
Danny Boy gives way to music which I can only describe as “River Dance meets Lion King the Musical”
Four. Hours. Don’t speed.
2. Speeding is bad.
Although the course was very long and a little dull at times. It did make me stop and think.
It also gave me a couple of practical things which I will try hard to apply to my driving:
- Drive in third gear in a 30 mph zone. Normally we drive in fourth through a 30 zone, but this means that typically you’ll end up doing 35ish. The difference between 30 and 35 could be life changing… for you, and whoever steps in front of you.
Try it. It makes you very aware of the 30mph limit.
- Keep your wheels straight when stopped at a junction and getting ready to make a turn. If you have them partly turned in anticipation, you could find yourself propelled in to oncoming traffic when hit from behind.Keep them straight and you’ll still get a nasty bump, but will be propelled forwards rather than in to the opposite lane. Potentially life saving.
- Buckle your rear seat belts even when not in use. This stops the contents of your boot flying in to your head if you do have a smash. Also, empty your boot of heavy stuff, especially tools.
- Go back to your excuses for speeding? Too busy, stressed, late for a meeting?Well imagine you’ve just run over a 12 year old child. Their parents ask you how it happened… does that excuse carry much weight now?
More info on the AA course can be found here. Though hopefully you’ll not need to attend: https://www.theaa.com/aadrivetech/driver-awareness/index.html