“So, is this the resident ‘know-it-all' at the newspaper?”
Here we go again. You generally can tell where the conversation is headed when you get a call like that. Before I could respond, he hit me with the second question.
“Are you the one who knows everything about driving and all that?”
A double shot.
“This can only get worse,” I thought. But I wanted to keep things peaceful.
“I write the traffic column, but I've never claimed to know everything,” I said. “There's no such person. Too many things change too often. No one could keep up with all them. I just try help when someone has a question or a concern.”
He laughed, then continued.
“Well, I got one for you. I want to know if happy drivers are better drivers.
“What's the answer?”
It hit me like a rear-end collision that two college degrees, 40 years in professional journalism and more than a dozen years writing this column weren't going to quickly provide the response he was awaiting.
“You know,” I said, “that's a great question. No one ever asked me that. But it would just make sense, don't you think, that if someone is feeling happy, they would be more likely to drive better than someone who's mad.
“It makes a difference for me. How about you?”
He had more fuel for this conversation.
“I suppose so,” he said. “But why?”
Mental pictures came to me of smiling drivers, waving at others rather than honking their horns, lifting a finger off the steering wheel to say “hi” rather than using another finger to signal displeasure and someone motioning another to go first.
“Driving happy means being more peaceful,” I said. “Driving mad is about a step away from road rage, and there are plenty of statistics to show that road rage is dangerous.
“So I would say the happy, feel-good driver is potentially less dangerous. What do you think?”
He said: “It depends. I've seen normally happy people drive real mad. It's like they're on a mission and ‘get the heck out of my way.' I've seen others who start out mad and get madder.
“So I have an idea. Let's all just take a minute and take a breath, then calm down and drive right. Be happy, be safer.”
Then, he finished with this.
“I know you really don't have all the answers, and I don't either. But share that thought with your column readers.”
You know what? I think I just did.
By the way ...
Here's a happy wish for a special lady in my house, who's special day is today.
Happy birthday, Becky.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.