John Sunderland

New York, United States

Yorkshireman. Designer, writer, poet, artist, riddler, curator, urban walker, bathroom-cleaner, table-setter and napkin-folder. New York...

THE PLANK. Sept 8. Has my wife gone nuts?

‘Has my wife gone nuts?’
From UAP Headquarters New York

9th Sept, 2010

Dear Plankers, here’s a rather anxious gentleman living in New York
Who declined to give his name, who’s concerned about his wife and seeking advice.
Read on….

Hello Plankers, especially the men out there of a senior disposition. I wonder if you’ve encountered the same situation that confronts me daily.

My wife Janet recently turned sixty and so did I. Whilst I think I’ve mellowed, she’s turned into a fireball. It’s as though after saving up caution and discretion all her life she’s now thrown it all to the wind, it shows up vividly in her driving.

We live in New York where no quarter is given on the roads, it’s hell and dangerous and road-rage is a way of life. In fact if you don’t have it you might as well walk or take the subway.

She’s a better city driver than I, I acknowledged that a long time ago, but since her birthday she has got crazy reckless.

For example, she now drives with one hand, well three fingers actually; the other hand is on the back of the passenger seat. And if her knees didn’t play her up I think she’d drive with one stuck out of the window! New York, especially the areas where we live, is pot-hole land, so I now find myself an advance guard warning of impending bottomless sink-holes in the road. This she rarely acknowledges, preferring to test our old Volvos’ springs to the limit. I fear one day we will disappear down a pot-hole and surface again somewhere in Africa or somewhere.

Then there’s her pleasure in doing U turns in traffic, those are usually worth a spontaneous prayer or two from me as the bus or concrete truck barreling down upon us are usually on my side.

As to parking; she’s set to become the Robin Hood of the illegal parking spots, stealing from the parking police with audacious moves and giving to the other poor city motorists, by demonstrating new illegal parking places where they might just get away with it. Or not as is more the case.

All the above is as nothing though when considering her new games.
We have to cross one of the city’s famous bridges each day, there are pinch points, two each way, where the supporting structures impede upon and narrow the road.
It’s not possible to get through if there’s a truck or van parallel to you when you reach these pinches, we play chicken, with buses, ambulances and fat SUVs, racing to get there before them and to play her favourite road game of chicken as the truck driver stares in disbelief down from his cab at this grey haired little old lady chancing her life and his, for cheap thrills.

But even that’s not as dangerous potentially as shouting out of the window.
She’s recently taken to screaming critical abuse at cyclists, scooters and moped riders, along with pedestrians and other drivers of cars, and of course her specaility and favourite; taxi drivers. Who lets face it, deserve it. She’s even taking night classes to learn new languages so she can scream abuse in their language. She usually offers advice on their driving technique and most times gets away with it but last night she upped the stakes and I now fear for our lives.
After being cut up at an intersection by a car full of Columbian drug Lords in their overblown shiny SUV with the guns sticking out, she chased them, whilst I tried to shrink myself into the ash-tray.
The SUV came to a stop, instead of passing by an offering up a little ‘toot’ she pulled up at their side, wound down her window and addressed the driver with the pencil moustache, greasy hair, gold chains and facial scars thus…

“And where did you get a f*****g license. Bogatta?!”

Well, needless to say they reacted, in shocked surprise at first, as it’s a bit like been accosted by someone’s Grandma, and when you’re a gangster that does comes as a surprise especially if the person is not your grandma.

Anyway, after delivering her message, she stepped on it and we made a quick departure. But as we squealed around a corner, she had a sudden doubting of her actions for as bright lights careered behind us and through a red-light, she said out loud,

“Ooops, I think I might have overdone it this time.”

After a couple of maneuvers effected with consummate skill worthy of the bad guy drivers in Bullitt, we pulled into a local parking place and just when we thought we’d lost them, we were passed by the them at high speed, blowing their horn and flashing their lights. They’d found us.
It was then she said to me, “Shall we hide the car?” So we did, and walked home a few blocks staying mainly where there were no streetlights, just in case.

What’s funny is that she’s not like this when she’s not driving, so I’m wondering, is it hormones? Oh and I’m also wondering where we put the car as we can’t remember? So if you see a white ’93 Volvo Estate car smouldering and riddled with bullet holes will you please let us know?

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