perceiving danger

I did a little so-called volunteer work for the Santa Clara county registrar of voters. The work was paid and so not really volunteer, but because it is very short term and of public service, they call it volunteer.

I was part of a 2-person courier team taking bags of ballots and similar things from a voting spot to the county building where all the votes are counted and saved.

I was the passenger in a car and being driven by a guy who is older than I am. We were on the freeway moving at 70 mph or so. Directly ahead of us is a car moving slowly and with hazard lights blinking.

The driver I was with has previously repeatedly missed turns and typed in wrong things on his car navigation system leading to dramatic delays in getting where needed.

Anyway, we are heading north at 70 and ahead of us is a car moving at 40 mph or so.

I say loudly, “Careful; careful; slow; slow. Stop; stop!”

We were doing the equivalent of smashing into a stationary object at 20 or 30 mph, and doing so at 4 or 5 car lengths away.

The guy slows down and then complains at me for yelling at him to slow down or stop. “Don’t do that again!” he says!

I try to be as quiet as possible for the rest of the trip. Meanwhile, he then misses one of the turns to our first stop because he is not paying attention, a few minutes later. Then, his car navigation leads him in circles when we begin the trip to the vote counting center, a trip we have already made several times on previous days. The guy misses more turns, in addition to heading in the wrong direction because of bad navigation.

And, once or twice, the guy pulls into the area between the freeway and an off ramp while he is trying to figure out if he should be taking the freeway straight ahead or taking the off-ramp. Hum. What is the sign on that off-ramp? I will figure this out while stationary next to cars moving at 70 m.p.h.! So, he thinks, while I determine or have determined that I will not be a passenger in this guy’s car again!

On the first day, we drove for ten extra minutes because he had typed in “Bergerac” as the street address rather than “Berger.” He then drove 10 or 15 miles south to some unknown location, then we both had been to a location to the north of our location, where we had had our training!

You know, Bergerac as in Cyrano de Bergerac? Of course, in Santa Clara county there are probably one or two street called “Bergerac.” Right? Right??

Meanwhile, back in less dangerous spots than in the passenger seat of this guy’s car, I was at a pizza place in Berkeley on Saturday. There were young women students of high school age and I said hi to them at one point.

There were of a private school and not of Berkeley high school. We talked about the recent BHS protests. They were either 3 girls or they were 2 girls and a guy. I forget the mix.

They were attending a private school in SF.

The girls said that they had taken a self-defense class in their school and were very happy to have done so! One of the girls, or, young women students of HS age, had in fact written an Op-ed essay for one of her classes or for a journalism project on why taking self-defense classes is good and should be offered to all people of her situation, such as high school students.

Forgive my not telling you the name of the driver of the car who thinks it is ok to drive at 70 mph while closing on a car, directly in front of you, in the same lane, a car showing blinking hazard lights and moving at 40 mph.

What could go wrong?

The studies of EAAA, the self-defense course that sharply decreases rape among college aged women, also show that it increases one’s personal perception of risk of danger . . .

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