Strewn about the highways of middle-Tennessee, you will find hundreds of video boards spelling out important messages to the drivers passing by. Sometimes they will be warning you of construction up ahead. Other times they will be grimly tallying up the number of deaths that have happened on the state’s highways this year and, for good measure, comparing it to the previous year. A few times, they have broadcast the statistic that 52% of traffic fatalities in the state of Tennessee were to people not wearing seatbelts, a statistic that I am sure is supposed to convince everyone to buckle up for safety but only causes me to think “Is that really it?”
Many times, though, the bright letters will spell out a very important message: “Don’t Drive Drowsy.” Often times I see those signs and chuckle. See, if I were NEVER drive drowsy, I would likely have to quit my job and spend the rest of my life at home. When I leave for work in the morning, I am rarely ever fully awake. Normally, my coffee has not kicked in and odds are I was up far too late doing something far too unimportant.
I knew that driving drowsy could be bad, but I never fully understood how bad it could be until today.
I was behind the wheel of my mighty steed as I merged onto the highway today. As I was sitting there, I had a moment of panic. As I had left the apartment today, it seemed like I had remembered everything. I had gotten my bag, grabbed my coffee, remembered to put on pants… still something did not seem right.
As I reached down to grab my coffee, my hand grazed my pocket. That’s when it hit me. At this very moment, I had no idea where my keys were.
I began furiously patting my pocket as if I expected them to magically appear with the correct amount of leg slaps. When that did not work, I wiggled in my seat, sliding my hand into the pocket. I guess my thought process was that perhaps I did not feel my keys because they had slipped into some secret area at the bottom of my pocket, an area that renders all objects imperceptible to the human touch unless, of course, you are lucky enough to jam your hand far enough in there to find it.
Great, I thought. Now I am locked out of my apartment and I have no keys. I will get home and just have to sit there on the hallway steps, waiting for my wife to come and rescue me.
That is when it hit me: there is no way I could have locked my keys inside my apartment. I need them to lock the apartment door! Stupid Nathan! I must have dropped them on the way to the car. Now I will have to go to the nearest hardware store and have copies of EVERY key made. That would be very expensive.
About three miles of shuffling, patting, and nervously wondering if a stranger had found my keys and, if so, wondering if that stranger had let himself into my apartment to steal all of my possessions, it finally clicked. I was driving a car. I need a key to start the car. Following that logic, I slowly glanced down. Sure enough, the keys were right there in the ignition, the logical place for a person’s keys to be while piloting their motor vehicle down a highway.
In a drowsy stupor, I had completely forgotten what I use my keys for. If I could forget that while drowsy, what kinds of terrible driving decisions could I make? It could be very dangerous indeed.
I would like to promise that I will never drive drowsy again. The truth is, I probably will. I will also probably forget where my keys are again.
My biggest goal is to never have the two happen at the same time again. I will either feel drowsy while driving OR forget where my keys are. I am nothing if not ambitious.