Driving while under

I’ve only once been in a position that required me to do a lot of driving. That particular drive supplied me with a cellphone (the only time I’ve ever had one) and I spent a lot of time on it, mostly calling folks that I was going to visit. Yes, yes, in essence, I was the modern traveling salesman, traveling through Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.

It didn’t last very long.

But not because of me. At least that’s what they said.

Early on in my driving, I loved to drive. BJ and I drove out to California together (she flew back to finish school) when I took the job with Malibu. Then when Marvel fired everyone, we drove back together, detouring through Utah, Montana, S. Dakota and other states we thought we might never get to again. Driving never really bothered me.

But in the last handful of years, long distance driving (oh, an hour or more!) generally makes me very sleepy. I don’t know whether it is age or whether it is different sleep patterns or whether it is 2 kids or whether it is whatever it is…but I get sleepy.

A recent bout with the driving while under the sleep influence made the think about it. I’ve tried many many different strategies to stay away: one, I got from Dad—buy a very large bag of the hardest Doritos they make and crunch them loudly one at a time very slowly. The crunching rattles the brain (and the jaw) and helps keep the driver—and everyone else…awake.

I’ve tried drinking mucho caffeine. This was back before the recent surrender of Coke products (we’re boycotting Pepsi—but that’s another blog for another day) and I’d buy the biggest one available at the Stop-N-Rob. The only thing that really succeeded in doing was making me have to go to the bathroom.

But then I used that as a strategy: have to go the bathroom so bad that I had to stay away or flood the car.

I’ve used the “dog-in-the-pickup-truck” strategy; y’know, roll down the window when it’s freezing cold and stick my face out into the cold air. The just succeeded in freezing my eyelids shut. I did the reverse, too, and ran the heater full blast. I think the heat just increased my sleepiness.

I’ve pinched and slapped my face before. But because I knew I was doing it to myself, I went easy on myself and didn’t hit or pinch hard…so it was as ineffective as the other ways.

One of the most effective ways I found—but was difficult to find—was listening to the radio…at extremely loud volumes. The hard part was finding something that could hold my attention. Like most people, I have the first 3-4 buttons programmed to the stations I often listen to…most of the time they play very upbeat music. Why is it, though, when I want something fast and loud and upbeat, they’re playing songs to put the baby to sleep? The best channels? Talk radio.

Yeah, sounds silly, doesn’t it? However, I find myself intently listening and either calling the speakers whackos, or Amening them over and over.

Whatever it is, driving while sleepy is probably nearly as bad as driving while talking on the cellphone.




Filed under Columns

2 responses to “Driving while under

  1. Peggy Johnson

    Falling asleep at the wheel can be deadly. I fell asleep one beautiful sunny afternoon and totaled my Mercury Marquis. I injured my back, got two black eyes, a cut on my forehead, and bruisies everywhere. I was lucky I survived. I think the air bags knocked me cold. I don’t remember the actual accident. I woke up in the hospital wondering what happened.

  2. I get sleepy driving too. So I only drive short distances. My husband and friends take pity and drive the longer routs.

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