Lives have got ridiculously busy recently – we know it’s a modern curse to talk about busyness, but it did get stupid busy for us both for a while there. And believe us, it’s not for want of trying to calm down and smell the roses more often than just now and again…
Which is why this recent report into middle aged women being the worst driving offenders by a country mile really caught our eye…
Police and Network Rail monitored level crossings across London and the South East because near misses were up 15%. They were extremely surprised when it emerged that women aged 50-65 accounted for a massive 46% of offences – they were still expecting to be able to blame it on errant yoofs.
But it came as no surprise to us that middle-aged women were caught time and time again hurrying around, driving recklessly, whereas males aged 17-25 only accounted for a paltry 8% of offences. Let’s face it, we’ve hoiked car insurance for young men to literally £1,000s a year; we’ve saddled them with huge graduate debts and we’ve all but erased any hope of a secure and well-paying job – so we can’t actually bring to mind many young blokes who even if they had the means to afford a car, would be in such a hurry to get anywhere that they’d hare across a level crossing on a red light.
It’s probably rose tinted nostalgia, but when I was young, being out in the car was pretty much all about the journey itself – windows down, mates laughing, music blaring and silk cuts blazing – and why would you want to hurry through that?
Now though, it seems as if life is one big hurry-through. As if hurrying through tasks had somehow become the way to live life. And no-one knows this more than the 50-something woman. Working harder and longer hours than ever before. Working harder on her relationships, parenting, promotion, health and looks, and self improvement at every level. And, as the squeezed middle of the sandwich generation, doing this while also, increasingly, supporting elderly parents with ever-increasing needs and ever-decreasing support from society, and 20-something offspring who find it impossible to get a job, let alone a mortgage.
It’s hard to justify jumping a red light on a level crossing – but it’s easy to see that if you’re busy to the point of brain freeze, where you face each day just hoping you can get through everything quickly enough to get it all done, you start to take ill-thought risks, quick fixes and short cuts.
Putting it in print makes it sound awful, but we’re as guilty as the next of being an amber gambler at the traffic lights, rushing across as the green man turns to red, running through the tube doors as they’re about to shut – and we’ve seen countless other women doing it (one that we know recently sped a red light on her bicycle with her two children on board, and the back child nearly got squashed by a bus).
It’s madness when you stop to think that the very children that you care so much about that you don’t want them to be late to school, may not make it at all due to your reckless road sense. Put like this, no-one in their right minds would take these risks. So why do we all do it?
Perhaps reframing rush as risk would help – perhaps it would help even more if we thought that even if our rush is not putting anyone else at risk, constantly living on an adrenalin edge is extremely wearing on the mind, body and soul. Perhaps for some it would be enough to think about the risk to others that our rushing could be creating.
Either way, this report made us think – we may not get there on time, but rushing/taking risks may mean that we never get there at all. Either way, the days of women merely multi-tasking by putting lipstick on at the lights is a thing of the past. These days, she’s probably on her Blackberry, eating her breakfast and doing her pelvic floor exercises while the lights change – if she’s even waiting for the lights to change in the first place…
Posted by Kath