Monday, January 31, 2011

Blind Drivers

Terry and I took a week off in January and went for almost a week in Florida. We went to the west coast this time, flying into Punta Gorda and then checking out places to revisit in Ft. Myers.

You may remember that Punta Gorda used to be a wonderfully historic town until hurricane Charlie whacked the heck out of it. Back in 2004, before Katrina and Rita, the hurricane center tracked a storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Charley was supposed to hit Tampa/St. Pete, so emergency crews evacuated people to Orlando. A few hours before Charley was due to make landfall, a local weatherman said, "Holy shit. It turned right."

The storm went from a category two to a four in about an hour and slammed into Punta Gorda, all but blowing and washing it away. Today, there are lots of empty lots you can get cheap. Even in what used to be the historic district. There are giant swaths of land with nothing on it but concrete slabs and abandoned swimming pools full of green slime.

What's this got to do with blind drivers? The hurricane did not blow them away. We put on our defensive driving hats and tried to anticipate which driver would turn in front of us, which would turn right from the left turn lane, which would stop on green and go on red. We were lucky, because we didn't hit anyone. It was close several times, but we returned the rental car with no dings or dents.

We even talked with one woman whose husband refused to stop driving. Legally blind, he gets behind the wheel, and she tells him where to go, where to turn, when to stop. I don't think she can see three feet in front of her either.

I don't think I could ever live in Florida. Not until I need a white cane. And only then would I feel comfortable behind the wheel. Otherwise, it's damned scary when you are the only driver who can see the obstacles.

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