By seven in the morning, we are usually out for our daily walk. One day we were about halfway through our route, walking on the sidewalk of a lovely treelined neighborhood. As we approached the next house in front of us, we watched as a car pulled slowly and carefully out of the garage. Had we kept walking at our current rate, we would have found ourselves smack dab in that driver’s way as he kept backing. So, naturally, we slowed down and waited on the sidewalk for him to back out onto the street.
But the driver saw us as he glanced out his side window, and immediately stopped. That put his car directly across the sidewalk in front of our walking path. So, Andy politely motioned for him to continue backing onto the street, and then we would go on our way.
The driver happened to be an older, silver-haired sweetheart with glasses, and was obviously being careful about driving in reverse. When Andy motioned for him to go ahead of us, the man rolled down his window and with a smile told us that “by all means pedestrians should go first.” My husband demurred and explained we would wait on him to finish backing off the sidewalk. Then this quick-witted, good-humored gentleman quipped, “I just usually back up ‘til I hear glass!”
I loved it.
I would call him a man who is comfortable in his own skin. He is aware everyone sees all older adults as probably having slower reflexes and diminished sight. Aware that as a senior adult, people can be very wary of his driving skills. And rightfully so in many cases. But was he defensive and prickly with us, as we cautiously waited for him to finish backing out of his driveway? Absolutely not. In fact, he had charmingly poked gentle fun at himself for being the “scary old man on the road.” But at the same time, he was able to slyly jab us, because he knew that we had him stereotyped him as the average older driver – someone to watch very carefully. But this was a guy who evidently knew his own driving skills and limitations very well, and knew how to function within them.
He refused to let people’s laughing comments about older drivers’ abilities make him feel upset and less-than. He struck me as able to let the hurtful comments about old age roll harmlessly off his back. Good-natured enough to join in making cracks about his old age, and wise enough to take into consideration his lessened abilities.
An older driver? Of course he was, but he sure had a great outlook on living. Wish all of us had his capacity for not taking our self too seriously. I believe we would have a lot more fun in life.