From our first week here in the retirement home I’ve noticed an exclusive clique that meets regularly and secretly. They gather in the far corner of the coffee lounge, talk a lot but shut their mouths the moment anyone comes close to their circle. Retired members of the secret service, I thought excitedly. I wonder if I could waylay one of them, ply him or her with whisky and get an exciting story for my blog, a plot for a thriller, a script for a movie…
Yesterday I bumped one of them in the elevator and invited him in for a drink. He took 2 sips of whisky and started to talk. I had a tough time getting him to stop. It’s not what I thought, but they are an elite crowd, all right — nonagenarian drivers! These few men and one woman hold regular meetings where they discuss their driving, ask each other for advice on how to renew their mostly un-renewable licenses, make it through the eye test and exchange stories of their conquests on the roads.
When I finally managed to get a word in, I told the guy that I’m interested in becoming a member.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Eighty-one,” I replied.
“Come back in nine years, sonny! I’m not even supposed to talk to you yet!
Say, do you want to come with me? I’m just popping down to the mall to pick up shoes I left for repair. And you can help me into my car.”
He needs help getting into his car but then he’s going to drive it?
His car is old, rusty and battered. “There were a lot of concrete columns in the last place I lived. Not worth fixing,” he muttered, pointing his cane at the bodywork.
With much groaning I got him behind the wheel and I went around to the passenger side. He fired up the engine and backed out slowly. He made a complicated 8-point maneuver to get the car out of its parking slot and then zoomed out into the traffic without a glance in the mirror. Cars racing down the street swerved and hooted and a couple sent messages with their fists and fingers.
“Everyone is so impatient these days,” he muttered. “They shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car at all.”
A pizza boy on a motor scooter shot into the road and my driver swerved towards him. “That’s the third time I’ve missed that guy this week,” he said. “I’ll get him one of these days.”