Will They Ever Learn?

I’ve often written that, as an expat Brit in America, arrival here was like stepping back through a half century of time warp. The start of the new school year reminded me yet again when, on driving the school bus towards the next stop I had to brake sharply and pull over, to avoid a pick-up truck traveling in the opposite direction at around thirty miles an hour.

Not all pick-up truck drivers are reckless. Indeed, some are downright frustrating when they insist on trundling along two miles an hour below the speed limit, mile after mile, after mile.

Technically, drivers like that hold the moral high ground. After all, the term ‘speed limit’ means exactly that. Once the needle rises past those well known numbers on the dashboard, you’re fair game to any traffic cop who got out the wrong side of the bed that morning.

To those of us constantly in a hurry, prepared to risk the ire of the odd policeman but expecting most to turn a blind eye to our being ‘5-over’, the trundler is just as much a nuisance as being stuck behind Great-Grandma, off to the shops in her Lincoln Town Car.

Playing Russian roulette with the traffic cops is not specific to the USA. The old saying, “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men,” is a good one to live by, though you have to hope the guy behind you, with the big siren and flashing lights, is in agreement.

There are some rules, however, that should never be broken. The consequences are so horrendous, it doesn’t bear thinking about for too long. The woman driving the pick-up truck that caused me to brake and pull over was guilty of just such an act of blatant irresponsibility.

As I yanked the bus towards the sidewalk and the pick-up sped past, I glimpsed three children in the back. They weren’t even sat in the bed of the vehicle, but balanced on the sides, hanging on for all they were worth. The eldest, a girl, could be no more than six. The other two were barely kindergarten age.

It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such an act of criminal stupidity in this part of the world. It certainly won’t be the last. It seems the police turn a blind eye.

You won’t see such a sight in Europe, or anywhere outside of, perhaps, India, or Pakistan. In Europe, it would be classed as endangering the life of a child, and would almost certainly mean a prison stretch.

You’ll see it frequently in America, though, just as you might possibly have done in Britain – perhaps, fifty years ago.

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