What is it about cold, sunny days that makes people drive even worse than usual? Monday was, as predicted, Distilled Essence Of Cold. Not a lot of frost and windshields were clear. Nice, bright morning. The ice that had graced (?) our roads had melted by Saturday. Should have been clear sailin'.
Only not. I bundled up -- thick wool socks, ankle-length bloomers, flannel-lined jeans, long-sleeved T-shirt under a good heavy knit under a zip-up hoodie under a sleeveless shell, motorcycle boots, scarf, coat, bomber hat (yes, the fur-lined sort with earflaps) and windproof gloves -- and I was fine. The only problem with that get-up is, you can't wear it in a heated area very long without cooking.
The car even started. A little reluctantly, but impressive considering age and mileage. The sky was a beautiful blue bowl overhead, the sun throwing sharp-edged shadows as it crept up the sky like a new member of the Polar Bear Club nerving up for the plunge.
All should have been well.
Wasn't. I went bouncing down the alley and very nearly didn't see cross traffic at the street. Eeek! Well, there's a wake-up. Got out to the main road and had the same thing done to me. At the first intersection with a traffic light, the normal dance had been replaced by dazed dodging. It's a pretty clear run most of my commute, down nice wide streets with good visibility....and I was pulled out on three times and had three more honk/dodge near misses from drivers who somehow failed to see a bright red car with the headlights on.
And the same thing was happening to others all around me.
My theory? Not much of one but I didn't see a lot of sunglasses, despite the intense sunlight. Now singles bars, they keep the lights low, so your pupils will dilate and you'll look "interested" to the people you meet and see them as interested in you, too. (Also helps hide the tacky decor). I think just maybe it works in reverse: on bright days, your pupils contract; what you look at isn't as interesting, not at all. Your attention wanders. You might see but you fail to observe. True or not, I think I was driving better once I'd dug out my sunglasses.
1. Carhartts, my new fave jeans. Especially the warm, flannel-lined ones.
2. Or, unless you speak British, a vest. Also from Carhartt. Seems to be made of canvas and felt -- warm.
3. True fact: if you look at a person or whatever and find it attractive, your pupils dilate. If you don't like it, they contract.
4. With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
4 weeks ago