Babysitting is probably an odd term to apply to experiences with drivers one encounters on freeways and interstates, and indeed sometimes local streets. But ‘babysitting’ is the word I learned to apply to driving experiences many years ago when my job sent me to work in the downtown area. At first, for a year, I drove the slow way with many traffic lights, because it had been many years since my work had taken me that far away from home. After awhile, my courage increased and I began driving into town on the freeway, which is an inaccurate term if I ever heard one. Free, maybe because there is no toll, but definitely not free of movement.
Anyway, at first I was truly shocked at the behavior of so many of the drivers on the freeway. Carelessness with speed limits and changing lanes and signaling had certainly multiplied in the previous decades. Ah, but eventually I developed the philosophy of ‘babysitting’ many of my fellow drivers: trying to figure out if they were going to change lanes even if they did not signal; trying to move out of their way if they insisted on ‘tailgating’ (following me way too closely); in effect, being ‘motherly’ toward them, because goodness knows they needed it. Foolish behavior was not limited to the very young; it included all ages and all sexes.
But developing the ‘babysitting’ philosophy somehow makes the two of us more observant, more polite and patient, more resigned to sometimes ridiculous or aggressive behavior. And it works, whether we deal with those driving local roads on the phone or running red lights, or on the freeway, driving too fast or not signaling lane changes. “Poor things,” we say to ourselves, “they don’t know how to use their turn signal.” Of course they do, but we pretend, in order to explain their idiocy. In fact, pretending is a good way to get through a lot of concerns and problems, and not just on the road.