Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have tried. I have tried to get my so-called "friends" to offer suggestions, serious suggestions or crazy suggestions, actually any suggestions, to make it safer to drive one's car out of my dad's driveway, but to no avail. I admit, I only have 25 "friends" on Facebook, including most of my siblings, but still, only one person responded (thank you Angela) with any ideas at all. This method is called brainstorming but perhaps it is a new concept to those who use Facebook. Since my sibs rarely check their emails, never mind their Facebook site, maybe I should not be surprised that no one in my family responded, but even my nieces didn't come through with a single comment and I KNOW they check FB.

To back up a bit - my dad has an extremely steep driveway, dangerous anytime, but especially treacherous if icy. The driveway angles downward so steeply that even the plow guy won't come down the driveway unless my dad has parked his car in the garage. In winter, my dad used to park his car at a narrow but leveled off spot at the top on the roadway, but the spot is at the top of a dangerous rise, in addition to the fact that his car gets plowed in whenever the town snowplow rolls by.

My dad has lived in this house and put up with this driveway for 40 years. When my family moved into the house 40 years ago, the road was actually more curvy and the top of the drive slightly steeper than it is now. But back then, few cars drove past. Then the town widened the road, re-paved it to make it a nice smooth raceway...errr....roadway and put in a shortcut to the center of town at one end of our street. At about the same time, the state added an extension to the major interstate highway that stops at the other end of our street. You might as well have put out a sign that said "Commuters, rev your engines." Moms race to the town center for their weekly grocery runs before junior gets home from elementary school. My dad's once quiet street became a raceway virtually overnight.

This all happened years ago. My dad adapted to the changes. So, why am I complaining about it now? Because, I've had a chance to live here for a few months. You have to open your car window, regardless of sub-zero temperatures, to listen for cars coming from either direction, because you cannot actually see them coming until its too late. On the left, they appear over a rise, and to the right, they come around a bend in the road. So, I open both front seat windows as my car idles at the crest of the driveway while I listen for the sound of approaching vehicles.

My concern is that over the past few years, my dad has grown increasingly deaf. I usually have to repeat myself twice, and sometimes three times, and if his back is turned to me, he does not hear me at all. I am concerned about his ability to hear those cars coming over the rise or around the corner. I am not aware that he has had any close calls with other vehicles as he noses the car out of the driveway, but I worry just the same. Its hard enough for me to get out of the driveway safely and I'm 30 years younger and have better hearing than my dad.

So I asked for ideas regarding the driveway situation on FB, and I got only one. I think about this dangerous situation almost every day because every day I feel like I take my life in my hands as I gun the car over the lip of the drive and onto the road. I have given this some serious thought and have come up with a couple of ideas, crazy or not. One idea is to have one of those convex mirrors nailed to a couple of nearby trees so he can see what is coming over the hill or around the corner. The downfall of this idea is that I fear someone will shoot them with BB guns or that they will crack with the freezing and thawing of the ever changing New England weather. The second idea is to have a "CAR COMING" sign that lights up right across the street from the top of the driveway, the kind they have in parking garages to warn pedestrians on the sidewalk. There is nothing but woods across the street from the top of the driveway, but my dad does not own that property. In addition, while I think this is my best idea yet, I doubt the town fathers would sanction any sign that lights up. My dad lives in a town where "stone walls have foundations", as a well known author recently remarked. Ixnay on that idea. Which brings me back to simpler ideas, like large black arrows on neon yellow signs that warn a driver that a dangerous curve is coming up, or a sign that simply says "Hidden Driveway". Or perhaps neon orange barrels lining the road near the driveway, "borrowed" temporarily from the state. These solutions warn the raceway drivers, but unfortunately they do not warn my dad of oncoming traffic should someone choose to ignore the warning signs.

So, I am putting my request out there for the world (or at least for all 13 official followers of my blog). Do any of my "friends" out there have any other ideas to improve my dad's dangerous driveway situation? I'll take any and all, brilliant or otherwise.

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