For someone who blogs about becoming a Florida resident, I have tiptoed mincingly around the subject of elderly drivers. After all, some of my favorite people are elderly drivers. Of course, I don't ride with these people, but they are favorites nonetheless. Today, it's time to stop mincing tiptoes.
Witness one Joseph Schlesselman, who has been shuffling around this mortal coil for 89 years. Joe fell victim yesterday to that bane of all elderly drivers (sorry, Joe, but 89 is certifiably elderly). Joe's foot slipped off the brake and onto the go-pedal. Could happen to anyone. It wasn't even the prosthetic foot at the end of his wooden leg that slipped. That's the other leg. And he says the walker he uses was not in the way, either.
Praise the Lord, Joe didn't kill anyone or even himself or his bride, despite his determined efforts. "Goodbye, this is it," he thought as the old Mercury Marauder, handicapped parking tag flailing about wildly from the mirror, bolted over the seawall and plunged headlong into the Gulf of Mexico, Schlesselmans, prosthetics, collapsible walker and all.
As the old Merc filled with seawater, several passersby dove into the tepid Gulf, bashed in a couple of windows, and snatched the Schlesselmans to safety. Minor injuries were had by all. The police subsequently returned to the Gulf to rescue the prosthetic leg and the walker.
Asked later by a news reporter about his escapade, Joe leaned on his walker and complained, "I thought cars were supposed to be safe." He is upset not only with the Mercury folks for making three-ton behemoths that don't float worth a damn, but with the City of Dunedin, which apparently owns the seawall that caused the problem in the first place. "Why," he asks . . .
Wait for it . . .
"Why would you put up a sign that says 'disabled parking' and not have barriers?"
While the reporter was no doubt struggling to maintain her last shred of professional composure, Joe followed up.
Wait again for it . . .
"If a disabled person is going to park there, something is going to happen."
Joe says he is going to think twice about parking in that same spot again. Funny, but Joe never mentioned in the interview - or maybe the reporter was too overwhelmed with the situation to report it - how grateful he was to the people who risked their lives to save his wrinkled old ass.
And right now, at this very moment, while the gendarmes are dragging his Mercury out of the tepid, briny drink, Joe is running around - well, metaphorically, at least - trying to rent another car.
Hertz, Avis, if you're out there, RUN.