Meet the most trusted automobile driver in America …. Me.
Just last week, as I was driving south on I-57, motorists in the lanes on either side of my vehicle chose to place their lives in my hands.
At speeds in excess of 70 miles an hour, they decided to merge into my lane at nearly the same time.
“They’re crazy,” said my wife.
“No,” I said, with a cool that James Bond would have envied. “They realize I am the most trusted driver in America.”
And with that, I hit my brakes, ever so softly, since a semi-truck hauling a trailer was tailgating me. Yes, he also realized he could trust me because if I had stomped on my brakes his cargo would have been sprayed across the expressway along with parts of his body.
Using the perfect amount of pressure on the brakes, I slowed my SUV and the two other vehicles safely crisscrossed in front of me in a maneuver that would have been the envy of the Blue Angels.
“Unbelievable!” shouted my wife.
“Not at all,” I replied. “I am the most trusted driver in America.”
Please note that I did not claim to be the safest driver, the best driver or the most experienced driver.
I make no such assertions. I do not boast.
I let the actions of others speak for me.
I’m not talking about relatives or friends. For some reason, they seem to lack the trust of total strangers. That’s right. People who have never met me, never seen me drive a car or hit the headlight button in error while trying to get the wipers to work, trust me completely.
Just the other day, in a restaurant parking lot, a young couple, perhaps in their 20s, exited their vehicle, pulled out their cell phones and walked in front of my SUV without once looking in my direction.
“They trust me,” I told my wife, who sighed and said, “They do not know you.”
I do not know how my reputation has spread. Perhaps there are photographs or videos on social media. Maybe it’s word of mouth.
But the level of trust is humbling.
For example, I was driving through a shopping mall parking lot when two small children suddenly came running out from between parked cars.
I immediately stopped my car.
And then I saw the parents of the children walking six feet behind them. They did not shout at their children to get out of the road. They did not scream, “Stop.” They never made the slightest effort to prevent the children from running in front of my vehicle.
I can only surmise that they knew the lives of their precious children were safe in my hands.
If this were an isolated incident, it could be dismissed as mere happenstance. But at least once a week parents trust me with the lives of their offspring.
In fact, during the soccer season, at a park not far from my house, dozens of children each year run across the road in front of my car as their mothers and fathers laugh.
Would that be their reaction if they were not in the presence of the most trusted driver in America?
Of course not. They would be horrified. Their jaws would drop in amazement. There would be tears of joy and cries of astonishment. But there are no outward signs of surprise or dismay.
It is winter now, night has fallen, ice coats the ground and there is a fog in the air. Suddenly a jogger appears in my headlights, less than 10 feet away, running in the middle of the road.
“I know,” my wife sighs, anticipating my words. “He trusts you with his life.”
I wonder if they have heard about me in Europe.
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