Monday, September 11, 2006

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (Not at the Wheel)

"Failure to Launch" is more than a movie title. The phrase also describes my scrapped plans to drive a substantial distance yesterday. After starting out, I felt insecure with my functional, but somewhat spongy, brand new brakes so I had them checked out. The wiser soul I consulted gave the brakes a green light but convinced me to go home.

To summarize what he said: my vehicle was roadworthy but I wasn't. A pasta brunch, the brutally slow, congested highway traffic and overcast weather were conspiring to make me drowsy. Since I wasn't experiencing the severe symptoms described in Danger Signals: How Sleepy Are You? -, I had planned to push on and recharge my batteries in the conventional ways: by scarfing energy-boosting snacks, listening to lively music, blasting the air conditioner, stopping periodically to stretch my legs, and swigging caffeinated, non-diet cola.
[NOTE: only the last measure (consuming the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee) and taking a 20-30 minute nap have been shown to make a short-term difference in driving alertness, according to the NCSDR/NHTSA Expert Panel on Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness report entitled, Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes. A reader-friendly summary of the report is available at How to Combat Drowsy Driving - Smart Motorist - Drowsy Driving and Traffic Safety.]
But "driving while drowsy is dangerous," warned my wise friend. Moreover, he cautioned, many sources [such as The Case Against Soda - Diet & Fitness - MSN Health & Fitness] say "soda is not good for you."

He was right on both counts. Plus, I'd resolved to drastically reduce (although not completely can) soda sipping since joining a Saturday fitness program. So I pulled into a local park, drank fruit juice and bottled water while reading Sunday's New York Daily News, then saddled up and drove, safely, back to the ranch.

Eerie, Much! One of the first items I read in Sunday's paper was a real wake-up call. It reported the death of a driver who'd fallen asleep at the wheel. The movie crew member had been heading home after a long day of filming when he crashed his car.

Given the context, I was struck a reference, in another article, to a song from Bon Jovi's album, Keep the Faith. Here is the relevant excerpt from, How to 'do' New York Fashion Week- New York Daily News, NY - Sep. 10, 2006, by British Vogue fashionista Camilla Morton (who also wrote How to Walk in High Heels: A Girl's Guide to Everything):

How to survive the shows? Good question. Comfort is not always top priority as image is everything there. You can cry about the cheese graters on your feet when you get in; meanwhile, always have a Band-Aid in your purse, and hum Bon Jovi's "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."