Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hey Midwest - it's time to hand over the keys.

I've mentioned that I hate driving, it is one of the biggest transitions I'm going to have to adjust to now that we live in Saint Louis. It's not so much that I'm bad at driving, I'm actually a pretty good driver, which is mostly due to my level of caution which is a direct by-product of my terror. I find traveling at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour in a large metal object surrounded by other large metal objects controlled by people who don't always have "safety first" on the brain, absolutely harrowing.

My first night back in St. Louis, our neighbor had a party. She invited us, and apologized in advance for the noise, which was very sweet. We honestly didn't hear a thing, until around 3:00 am when we heard everyone piling into their cars and driving home. I can't say for sure, because I didn't go down and pass out breath tests, but it didn't sound like good decision making.

Metro Opens Doors... The Grige and I met on the metro
Photo: Jeanine Finch

One of the wonderful things about living in DC is that public transportation was both affordable, easily available and goes pretty much anywhere you want to go. Most of the country is not like that, which is a hard realization to come to at an age where a great deal of your social life revolves around "grabbing a cocktail".  

I look back at so many close friends in my hometown and am shocked at how many have already racked up a DUI. I couldn't be more thankful that I had the opportunity to become so terrified of cars that I actually take driving seriously. I also couldn't be happier to have spent my most reckless years safely sloshing around a metro train. Perhaps "safely" is a bit of an overstatement here, but rape and assault rank slightly below death in a fiery car crash on my list of stuff to avoid.

The Grige certainly gets exasperated with me for constantly stressing out about driving, but the thing is, I take it very seriously. I refuse to use GPS while driving, opting to look up my route beforehand and using GPS only as a backup to be used when pulled over. And I would never dream of having a drink before driving somewhere, even just up the street. Obviously, that's a little overboard. One drink is probably not going to impair a fairly regular drinker like myself to the point that I can't safely and legally operate a motor vehicle. But it's kind of like trying to get pregnant - just because I can doesn't mean that I want to

This is waiting for me AFTER I pick the Grige up from school tonight

I don't know what the solution is for the really obvious and terrifying drunk driving problem that I'm witnessing en masse out here, away from the amazing public transport on the east coast. Obviously it's unfair that there aren't affordable, convenient and socially acceptable solutions easily available. But it shocks me that all the educated people, who I assume value their lives, out here are just shrugging their shoulders and revving the engine anyway.

It's not that I'm not fun... I am! It's just that I can't understand how anyone can party like this and then drive home. I could barely walk home the night this was taken...

For heaven's sake, midwest. Please, oh please, just spend the night on your friend's sofa, go for a long walk home or call a cab. Pay a broke friend to stay sober and drive, start a drunk shuttle business, anything! You are smart and young and if you are as passionate about the observance of happy hour as I am, you should be motivated enough to find a better solution. 

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