bugs you, too?
a school zone ahead and clearly, obviously
there are no kids about. But the DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!
flashing lights are on anyhow probably because theyre
on autopilot and set to go off at a certain time each day even if
school is closed or its the weekend.
boom! the guy ahead of you slows to a crippled crawl. God
knows, there might be a sainted child within a 5-mile orbit
and he just might run into the road. Even though of course,
theres not. The parking lots empty and the schools
as dead as Grants Tomb.
No one uses
For 99 percent
of drivers, the mere mention of children is enough to throw
their safety fetish into overdrive. The reflex is as conditioned
as the drooling of Pavlovs dogs. No using their eyes (and
brains) and deciding, okay, its obvious schools closed.
No kids around. Its probably okay to go faster than 15 MPH
(assuming no cops are around).
The sign is
there; the lights are flashing. And that triggers the response:
just a member of the last generation that didnt consider the
children the central organizing principle of society
and the knee-jerk excuse for endless petty tyrannies, from mandatory
seat belt laws to these over-the-top school zone crawl
are juggled by drunken clowns compared with the suffocating envelope
of safety we envelope the children in and also
any unlucky adults who happen to be nearby.
because of the children that all of us now have to pay
(according to most estimates) $500$1,000 more for a new car,
because new cars all have to have air bags and air bags make
cars safer for the children.
because of the children that we have these noxious buckle-up
at gunpoint laws that have given the Polizei legal cause
to harass you in your own car simply for not wearing your seat belt.
Its not going to be long before they start making us eat our
It is a Major
Event when a school bus picks up or drops off a sainted child. Many
flashing lights including, lately, strobe lights on the roof
of the thing plus a fold-out STOP! sign that (you guessed
it) folds out most imposingly as the bus comes to a stop. At which
point, all within a mile orbit of the yellow carriage must also
come to a stop. Its almost as if the presidential motorcade
had arrived and the Great One is about to step out for a wave at
All wait, hushed
back in the Gen X days of the 70s, school busses were driven
by salty old ladies who either smoked or drank (sometimes both).
They were not especially enamored of us the children
and neither were most adults. We did not call our parents
adult friends by their first names; we didnt monopolize the
conversations, either. In fact, we were likely told to go
do something and leave the adults the hell alone. We often
actually walked gasp! unsupervised (gasp again!)
from the bus stop to our house. Hovering pahrunts were not immediately
and always there in a SmooooVeee to scoop us up and make
sure we got home (safely) so that we could sit in front of some
idiot Pixar droolfest for the next two hours. Instead we played
some pick-up football, rooted around in the woods
on our own initiative, no coaches or orchestrated uber-organization
And when we
got picked up in the Vista Cruiser, we just hopped in the back and
rode (or rolled around) unbuckled all the way home. Can you imagine
it? None of this business of strapping eight and nine-year-olds
into safety seats like pint-sized Hannibal Lecters.
And somehow, we survived this (by modern standards) horrifically
unsafe environment of neglect and indifference.
existed but they werent Sacred Zones, as they are today.
No metal detectors;
no calling the cops because a 12-year-old pointed his fingers at
another kid and said Bang!
What the hell
happened? And can we throw this thing into reverse?
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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