Keep Calm

Keep Calm

When I arrived in Rome, I got a scooter. It was a 50cc Yamaha.
I had never ridden a scooter before, I was terrified. The first time I went out I got lost.
Instead of going for a quick ride up and down my road, I ended up riding around my neighbourhood for 2 hours.
By the time I found my way home I was feeling confident. I went out the next day as well, and the day after that.
After 20 years in Rome I have driven a scooter pretty much every day.
I’m still not used to Roman traffic though. I’m British, I follow the rules. I stop at red lights, park where I’m supposed to.
It’s not the same in Rome. Scooters drive on the pavements, cars park on pedestrian crossings and everybody seems to be in a rush. It used to annoy me.
One thing that bothered me most was when ambulances tried to pass through heavy traffic.
Upon hearing the sirens and seeing the flashing lights, cars would move to one side to let the ambulance through.
But there would always be two or three that would take advantage of this and follow closely behind in order to get ahead of the queue.
One day, I decided to do something about this.
An ambulance was passing through the traffic with the usual cars following closely behind. As the ambulance passed me, I moved behind it and slowed down to let the cars in front re-take their positions.
That’ll teach them!
Of course, the person in the car behind me was furious, sounding their horns continuously as the ambulance drove off into the distance.
I slowed down again to ride beside their car. I wanted to gloat.
As I drew next to the car I saw the driver, a young woman, in floods of tears.
She opened her windows and screamed, “My father’s in that ambulance!”.
I froze.
The ambulance had disappeared and this poor woman was stuck…
Now.
I escape. I get out of there. I drive on the pavement and stop on pedestrian crossings.
Bad drivers will always be bad drivers.
And we never know why they’re driving like that.

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