Dear Gayle,

My dad should not be behind the wheel of a car, but he doesn’t get that. He thinks he drives great and that all those other impatient drivers who keep honking at him should take a lesson from him — and slow down to a crawl. I had to follow him in my own car recently, and he was anywhere but in his own lane. I now know I’m in big danger if I happen to be driving down some road and my dad is driving on it, too. I’ve tried to get dad talked into letting me drive him where he needs to go, but that went nowhere. Don’t ask me to notify dad’s doctor; they are good friends and he wouldn’t ever be the one to do anything about this. What else can I do?

— Driving Scared

Dear Scared,

We should all of us drive — and cross streets, for that matter — as though your father is behind the wheel of that nearby car. Personally, I began being more mindful of the possibility that another driver should not be one after riding to a restaurant with a woman in her nineties whose passenger-side tires were almost always off into the gravel at the side of the road. From my seat in the back, I finally pointed this out to her. She replied that this is how she drives on purpose; she knows that, if she can hear the gravel on that side, she is not in danger of unknowingly drifting over the center line. I did not feel any reassurance in knowing that this woman was driving “by ear.” (That woman has since passed away.)

I spoke with a medical professional about your question, and was informed that most interventions for revoking driving privileges are initiated in hospital emergency rooms whenever a driver is seen there for symptoms of such conditions as seizures or stroke. Short of an accident involving your father, a future trip to an ER for some other reason may be the first opportunity for such an action. Do consider, too, that our roadways are being monitored by police who do move with the flow of traffic, not just sit with a radar gun. Your father may get noticed. There is a chance that he could amass enough tickets and points for dangerous driving issues that the state will become the needed agent of change. No matter how it happens that your father finally loses his license, be prepared that he will likely be rather cranky for at least the first few times that he must rely on you or others for his transportation needs. He will adjust in time.

Dear Readers,

Triggers for pet peeves can be everywhere at the holidays. One of mine that I wish to share is that some persons who bring a “grab-bag” gift to a function will not mark that gift with his or her own gender.

“But it can be for anyone,” they argue. “Anyone can eat these sugar-free candies.”

While that may be true, these bearers of generic gifts are overlooking the larger math. Allow me to offer my lame, made-up example. Let us say that 20 people will attend a party, and each will bring a gift. Oddly enough, of the 10 males invited, all 10 have brought a gift-wrapped necktie. Their packages are all each marked “man.” Nine of the 10 females attending have brought silver charm bracelets. Their package tags all say “woman.” Ever the gift-giving rebel, Irma Lou has brought a large can of mixed nuts, and on the gift tag, she has written “anyone.”

When the exchange takes place, nine of the men take packages marked “man.” Fred sees the one marked anyone, and takes that. When the women each take a gift, one will be left to take a necktie marked “man” on the package.

Obviously, such gift exchanges do not proceed that orderly, but the odds still turn out the same. That is why it is important to write your own gender on the gift tag for a grab bag event. An exception would be if you usually have a greater appreciation for the sorts of gifts that members of the opposite sex get at gift-exchanges, in which case, you might bring a gift marked with that gender designation, and take one marked the same.

Whatever else you do, have a great and a safe time through the upcoming holidays.

[Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to Anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards. Not all letters can be answered, but those that might have broader interest among our readers are more likely to be chosen. If you believe that you have something useful to add to a published response, please send it in; it will be considered.]

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