DEAR ABBY: In my 66 years of life, I have never written to you, but I have to respond to the letter from "Widow Driver," who complained about chauffeuring older women who don't drive.
She seems to think that a driver's license is obtainable by anyone who can guide an automobile without hitting too many obstacles.
My wife can drive a car to some extent. I taught her the basics in case of emergency. But when we went to the DMV to see about making it legal, she passed only the written test. When the eye test was administered, the examiner said, "Lady, you should not even WALK on the road -- much less drive on it!"
So, while she can "paddle her own canoe" -- to use your phrase -- she cannot see where it is going. Does "Widow Driver" want my wife approaching her grandkids' school crosswalk? I doubt it. -- LONE DRIVER, HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.
DEAR LONE DRIVER: I doubt it, too. That letter certainly touched a nerve with my readers. Mail about it poured in for days. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Widow Driver" prompts my own. What a smug, selfish person! There are many reasons why older people cannot drive -- and the LEAST of them is that they don't know how. The aging process may cause blindness and other serious health problems. Most of my friends who need transportation mourn the loss of their independence. No doubt, there are those who could learn to drive, but please don't lump all senior citizens into one group. -- FLORIDA READER
DEAR FLORIDA READER: You're right. Just because older people don't drive doesn't mean they don't know how. Some suffer from medical conditions that do not permit them to drive, and others are exercising good judgment because they could be a danger to themselves or others. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for your reasoned response to the mean-spirited woman who complained about non-driving widows. I'm sure there are many reasons for a woman to fall into this category. I once read that high-grade morons make the best drivers, and I hate the assumption that a woman who doesn't drive is an inferior being.
Although I have never driven, I served in the Air Force, raised two children, and have led a useful life using public transportation (taxis, buses -- and yes, occasionally good friends). I have "paddled my own canoe" and have never been a "mooch," always offering to buy gas or treat the driver to lunch. And yes, I have saved a bundle by not owning a car. What's wrong with that? -- DONNA IN MESA, ARIZ.
DEAR DONNA: Not a darn thing, from my perspective. I think ride-sharing is an admirable and environmentally friendly way to go. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was furious when I read the letter from "Widow Driver." Has the milk of human kindness curdled in that woman's breast? To write such an ugly letter has probably caused a lot of women pain and anguish, thinking they are the widows in the letter.
If the woman needs help to pay for the gasoline, she should TELL the widows. I'm sure they'd help.
I'm signing my name as I do on letters to friends, so that people know who wrote this letter and can call me for rides if they need them. -- KATHY T., LAYTON, UTAH
DEAR KATHY T.: Spoken like a good neighbor. I salute you.