Thursday, July 08, 2010

Driving off a cliff (not quite):

There’s a horrible Trompe L’Oeil that can really disturb you while driving. I’ve suffered this effect, and I suspect most of you have as well. One of my friends in college told me his own experience, which was truly terrifying. He said, “I was moving slowly into a parking space in a small lot at the edge of a cliff. There wasn’t much fence, so I was being really careful. When I was sure I was in the space and not too close, I pressed down firmly on the brake. My car kept moving! I hit the brake as hard as I could and still I didn’t stop. I thought I was going to go over, my heart was in my mouth! And then I realized. The car next to me was backing out. I wasn’t moving, but because I assumed the cars next to me were stationary, I thought I was still in motion.”

Well, that’s old news to all of you, isn’t it? But here’s a new wrinkle. If you’re in a nasty mood, you can do this to someone else! When you are ready to back out of a parking space, and a car starts to drive into the space next to you, wait until that driver begins to stop his car, and then put your car in motion. If he (or she) is looking your way, you can drive off, chewing over the knowledge that you’ve put the scare into that driver.

Let me put my suggestion another way. This morning, I was about to pull my car out of a parking space in a foresty, tree-overhung lot, when an elderly man started to ease his car into the space next to me, looking my way. I carefully waited until he had completely stopped before putting my car in motion, because I was not in a nasty mood. But I will be, some other time, so look out.

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