Bumper Cars

When I was younger I enjoyed riding the bumper cars at amusement parks and fairs. You know the ones, heavily padded vehicles colliding into each other at slow speeds. It’s pretty much impossible to get injured.

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Watching the traffic in Naples

I never thought I would see them in real life.

Naples was a stopover on our Italian sojourn, an afternoon to see the archeological museum and grab a pizza, then off to Sorrento and Pompeii.

The idea was not to wander too far from the train station, to catch some of the city’s flavour with whatever was in walking distance.

Which is how we would up on an overpass looking down at the traffic.

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It’s not my imagination, right? Every car is dented.

I had already seen the traffic in Rome, which can be described as chaotic. And I have driven in Montreal and New York., possibly the two worst North American cities to drive in. There was also that year in Liberia where the most important part of your vehicle is the horn, so I know what bad driving looks like.

Naples is worse.

Watching the traffic and trying to figure out the rules of the road and where the lanes were was an exercise in futility. Seemed that way for many of the drivers too. There seemed to be no order to the chaos. And then there were the vehicles.

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Sometimes I guess the dents are big enough that the police do get involved. Or maybe they were discussing a donut run.

In Canada when we have an accident we get our vehicles repaired afterward. From what I could see, no-one in Naples bothers with repairs. After all, you’ll just get dented again. I didn’t do a scientific survey, but it looked to me like eighty or ninety per cent of the passing vehicles had dings in them.

I guess the Neapolitans don’t have that North American reverence for the automobile. I think most people where I live try to take good care of their cars; they are a big investment after all. Maybe Italians just don’t care. If you accept that your vehicle is going to get dented you can enjoy the journey more, drive in a more carefree fashion.

It did get me wondering about insurance though. Maybe Italians don’t carry collision insurance on the vehicles, just liability. Or maybe not even that. I have been in a number of countries where I suspect not only insurance but licensing (for drivers) was seen as optional. I don’t know if that made the roads any less safe.

My first thought was that there was no way you would ever get me behind the wheel of a car in Naples, or anywhere else in Italy. Really though, you can get used to almost anything. I have met people who have told me they would never consider driving in Montreal. The drivers there are just too crazy.

I understand that. Montreal drivers are, if not crazy, very aggressive – but I have no worries driving here. While I am not an aggressive driver, as a teenager I learned to drive in Montreal, so I know what to expect. To me that craziness seems normal.

I don’t expect to be driving in Naples anytime soon, but if it is required I’m sure I’ll do fine. Though I doubt I would ever get used to the cars bouncing off each other. Bumper cars really should only be for the amusement park.

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