By Heather Siegel of the Siegel Sidebar
Posted December 13, 2015
This holiday season will mark the 8th year that I gave up driving. Not in golf but on the road. There are only two types of people in the world: those who drive and those who don’t. You always know which camp you are in.
Kids can’t wait to get a driver’s license. Seniors feel assassinated when they have to give up their privilege. Some drivers don’t have whiskers when they start. Most of us would cut our throats before we give it up.
For most of us former drivers, it is a medical condition that has short-circuited our lives. There are many reasons listed on death certificates but I doubt that giving up one’s driver’s license is a legitimate cause. Ours is a slow death that culminates in a loss of self-esteem, lack of mobility, and a sense of daily frustration.
Every time I enter a grocery store to shop, I am asked if I need help out to my car. I am sure the statement is meant well. It is possible to have a license without a car. But when I gave up my car, I gave up my standard of living. You see, I no longer can come and go as I please. That is an activity of daily living that I miss the most.
Perhaps that is why the Home Shopping Network has become so appealing lately. HSN gives me a full presentation in color, directly in my home. I press buttons on my phone to make an order. The landlady calls me when the package comes in. And I can schedule my trip to the Post Office to send back my returns.
I can leave my house, I have learned begrudgingly. It’s just that I am dependent upon someone else to drive my car or to navigate the bus. I am wisely careful about who I ask to have the job of being my tour guide. Sitting in the passenger seat has given me a new perspective on my career choices. Ask anyone who has driven for me. I am a closet driving instructor. Turn on your turn signal. Make only right turns. Don’t run through the yellow light. Keep your eyes on the road.
My drivers complain with a degree of compassion, that driving Miss Daisy is an experience extra. No one gives more directions than I do. Perhaps a film director can be in my league. It’s not that I never got a ticket when I was a driver. It’s that no one driving me around is going to get one while I am in the vehicle.
You are the same person with or without a car, was the first piece of wisdom that my shrink shared with me. You gotta be kidding, was my response. In eight years, my opinion has not changed.
When my dear mother Ruth G. passed, she left me her car which almost four years later is still being maintained and insured. I appreciate the support that my brothers gave me to keep it running. Both the car and I are now Senior Citizens.
Today is Sunday. I could be at Church, Temple or at a Pot Luck. Everyone else is doing something so no one is around to drive me around. I called the bus service today to reserve a seat on the handicapped bus to take me to important meeting in La Jolla tomorrow. I would like to join a health club to participate in water therapy but you see, I don’t have a car so there’s no way to get there.
It’s not that I feel sorry for myself but it is hard to make a big splash without a car. It’s sort of like telling yourself that you are on a diet while eating pizza. As long as the pizza delivery man has a vehicle, though, there is a connection to the outside world. Unless he has a broken windshield, he’ll still be able to deliver.
Written on the 8th day of Chanukah and the 8th anniversary of my Adult Bar Mitzvah as I approach my 8th year of not driving a car. I still see the same shrink.
Background about the author:
Heather Siegel is a current client of Seacrest at Home. Originally from Chicago, now living in San Diego North County Inland, Heather is a Second-Generation Holocaust Survivor. Heather and her mother Ruth G. Siegel, of blessed memory, are members of Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, CA. A graduate of the University of Illinois and San Diego State University, Heather would like to continue her education at Palomar College and participate in the water therapy programs at Tri-City Wellness Center. Heather is the proud mother of a Jane Russell Terrier, Miss Ruby Tuesday. You can reach Heather Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.