All of us seniors can remember when it was fun and safe to drive our cars and even make unfriendly hand gestures to other drivers. In this day and age, it's just not safe to do anything but keep your eyes forward and don't make eye contact with any other driver. Just about everything we did in the old days could now cause us to get shot at or have some road-rage nut try to run us off the road or ram us with his car.

When did all this madness start? It was almost like overnight. One day you could honk your horn at another car with no problems except perhaps a dirty look. The next thing I knew it was a big no-no to honk at someone and gave them a reason to put a noose around your neck for sure.

Back when I was first driving and for years thereafter, if you wanted to pass a car on a two-lane road in the daytime, you just honked your horn. They would pull over a bit to the side of the road to give you a few more inches to pass them and then return to the lane after you had completed your pass. You would wave a "thank you" out your window and everyone was cool with that.

If it was nighttime, then you would quickly blink your high beams in their rear view mirror and they would blink theirs to let you know it was OK to pass them. Again, after the pass you would once again blink your high beams as a "thank you" and they would do the same as a "you're welcome." It was a nice way to communicate with the other driver and everyone was happy with the system.


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The same method worked with eighteen-wheelers, only they would move closer to the center line if it wasn't safe for you to pass them at that time. When the road was clear, the driver would pull the rig a bit to the right to advise you that it was safe to pass. They also blinked their truck lights at you after you passed them. Now that was a cool sight to see on a dark night. A nice, warm, lighted message from an unknown trucker was always appreciated.

I loved it when it was safe to yell out your car window to a stupid driver, "Where did you learn to drive, at Autotopia in Disneyland?" Another longtime favorite of mine was, "What do you think that white line is, a cow going home late for milking?"

Either of those lines would most likely get you in big trouble these days. What a shame that is for us seniors that had so much fun driving in our younger days.

Heck, we even had to give hand signals to indicate what we were going to do. Your arm went straight out the window for a left turn or out the window but bent upward at the elbow for a right turn. Stopping required your arm to be held straight down alongside the car, and slowing down was the same but we sort of waved the arm back and forth.

The biggest joke back then was about women drivers and went like this: "The only thing you know for sure when you see a woman sticking her arm out the window ... is that the window is open!"

I miss those days of innocent and safe driving, how about you?

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.