Unsafe At Any Speed

pickup

As those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know, I do not have kids.  I never plan to have any kids.  I do not even really like kids.  They annoy the everloving fuck flashback fridayout of me, and I wish they’d get off of my lawn.  That being said, I am also on record as being a big proponent of letting kids be kids.  We seriously baby the absolute shit out of them these days, and it really serves the kids no good to have them growing up believing that both nature and the manmade world aren’t actually conspiring to kill them.

People my age were the second generation of fans to be drawn to comedian George Carlin thanks to the comedy specials he did for HBO back in the 80’s and 90’s.  Here is what George has to say about the way we treat kids, and while a lot of it is harsh, shocking, and a bit overexaggerated for comedic effect, there’s a lot here I actually agree with…

The segment of that routine that applies to today’s Flashback Friday post starts at about the 2:20 mark, because today we’re going to look back on a glorious time when kids were constantly put in harm’s way every time they tried to go somewhere, and nobody gave a rat’s ass!

dog squirrel tornado

Bunch of sissies!

Back in my day, kids weren’t bundled up like a piece of fine china being shipped across the country just to head down to the grocery store.  In fact, I’m old enough to have never even had to sit in a car seat before.  Car seats weren’t mandatory in the state of Illinois until the early 80’s, and by then I had already outgrown them.  I always buckle up when I’m in the car these days, but when I was 5?  Yeah, right.  The windshield was just begging for me to experience the sheer joy of catapulting through its thick layer of safety glass, but I got the last laugh on it!  Most other kids from my time did as well.

I took out the glass for your safety, kid.

I took out the glass for your safety, kid.

Being part of a family with 5 kids in the 80’s, it was a no-brainer that we had a couple of station wagons.  Remember the cool seating arrangements in those rustbucket beasts?

Cool!  We get to flip off all of the truckers we pass!

Cool! We get to flip off all of the truckers we pass!

The rear facing back seats in the station wagon of the 70’s and 80’s did not exactly have child safety in mind when it was developed.  They’d be a total nightmare in this modern world where our fascination with texting has made rear-ending the car in front of you popular again.  Some really cool station wagons even had the rear seats facing each other on the sides of the car, like this:

All the better for the kids to fight with each other while on that looooooooong road trip.  Are we there yet?

All the better for the kids to fight with each other while on that looooooooong road trip. Are we there yet?

Yep, these station wagons were rolling death traps that some how didn’t manage to thin out the population of Generation X.  Why?  Because not only were we built tough, but so were the cars in that day and age.  In the interest of saving a few billion gallons of gas, about two decades ago, they decided to start making cars out of tinfoil and pixie dust.  There’s a reason modern cars need to have a couple hundred airbags in them.

But riding in the backs of station wagons wasn’t the only way we thumbed our noses at child safety in that more innocent time.  Nope, for a while we had a pickup truck as well, and this was the ONLY way to ride in style in one of those babies….

This was the photo that was framed next to their caskets at the mass funeral.

This was the photo that was framed next to their caskets at the mass funeral.

Yes, me and my sisters rode in the back of a pickup truck for several years and are still here today to tell about it.  Whether on the mean streets of town, or burning down the highway, it was still the most fun I’ve ever had in a moving vehicle.  And being the oldest and the only boy, of course I always got to sit on one of the “humps” over the wheel well.  I feel for the kids today who don’t get to experience the joy of the wind in their face, the openness of the air, the certain death rolling just a few feet under you.  Now only the dog is legally allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck, and that’s only because everyone on earth hates PETA.

Look Ma!  No cavities!

Look Ma! No cavities!

Of course, we could only ride in these dangerous contraptions when our parents needed to go somewhere, and quite often we’d want to go along just for the fun of the experience.  These days, kids are dragged out to the unfun minivan by Mom and forced to go on boring errands since you are not allowed to leave kids under the age of 24 at home alone anymore.  Uh oh, Mom needs to run down to the organic food store and buy some spinach for the veggie taco dinner she’s making tonight!  Better hop on your bike and get away while you can!

Hi ho Rainbow Donkey away!!!

Hi ho Rainbow Donkey away!!!

Nowadays, adults even want to take the fun out of riding your damn bike!  No self-respecting kid over 20 years ago would have even considered wearing a helmet while cruising around town causing trouble.  Heck, bicycle helmets weren’t even as readily available then as they are now.  When I started working at Mecca 15 years ago, we sold plenty of bicycles, but had a very small selection of helmets to go with them.  Now there’s a whole damn counter full of head condoms to choose from.  Boy have we gotten to be soft and weak.

Sorry dear, but it's obviously too late to save your brain from any damaging trauma...

Sorry dear, but it’s obviously too late to save your brain from any damaging trauma…

Like all kids, I had numerous falls and mishaps with my bike.  Most of them involved skinning knees and elbows, and maybe ripping a hole in my perfectly good holey jeans.  None of that was going to be curtailed by a damn helmet.  Like with all ridiculous safety laws these days, this one started when some stupid kid rode his bike out in front of a bus and got squished.  Life never was fair, and we had to accept the fact that one loser could screw everything up for the rest of us, but that didn’t make us like it any more…

Way to fuck things up for all of us, douchebag!

Way to fuck things up for all of us, douchebag!

Yes, I would make a bad parent.  That’s why I’m not one, and don’t think others who would make bad parents should procreate either.  But it gives me the advantage of relishing a day and age when we didn’t have to wrap our bundles of joy up in a plastic bubble when they left the house.  Here’s to all the daredevil fun my generation had risking our lives just to get from Point A to Point B!  We came, we saw, and we lived to tell!  And now, we must spread the warning for all to take heed of!

Don't make Uncle Sam go get a switch off of the willow tree...

Don’t make Uncle Sam have to go get a switch off of the willow tree…

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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21 Responses to Unsafe At Any Speed

  1. Twindaddy says:

    It has gotten a bit ridiculous.

  2. merbear74 says:

    Our station wagon was orange and brown, and over bumps we banged our heads on the ceiling. Good times.

  3. C.K. Hope says:

    Ah, the days of riding in the back of a pickup! That’s where my sister and I rode every time we drove from NY to Fla. to visit my Grandparents (mid 70’s to early 80’s), then we got a station wagon), my Father had a cap for it for just those occasions. There was only one rule, do not sit against the tailgate, which we’d hear every time my sister was discovered doing so. She finally stopped doing it the day the tailgate dropped and she went flying out the back of the truck. My Father’s reaction to my sister (she was probably about 8 at the time), “Are you ok? Yes? Good! Bet you don’t do that again”. The cop’s (who happened to be the car behind us) reaction, “She alright? Good! She’s lucky my brakes work! Bet she doesn’t do that again!”

    Yup. Definitely different now 😉

    • I think the only accident we ever had in the back of a pickup was in my Grandpa’s. He had to slam on the brakes and one of my sisters flew forward and cracked her head on the back of the cab. We stitched it up, rubbed a little dirt on it, and carried on! Thanks for sharing your story, that’s a hoot! It’s both fascinating and scary how quickly times can change….

  4. Your right about the children not being left alone until they are 24. It’s ridiculous. When my brother was 11 he was allowed to look after me for short periods of time. Now I know the parents of a 14 year old who won’t let her babysit her sisters because “she might be mean to them.” That’s part of having siblings and it doesn’t kill you! I was babysitting other people’s children by the time I was 13!

    • OMG! Being the oldest of 5, I became a defacto babysitter at a very young age, especially since my parents worked a lot of evening and night shifts! It really is sad we don’t feel like we can trust teens and even preteens to watch their younger siblings anymore, let alone feel safe leaving them by themselves….

  5. ksbeth says:

    omg i love this so much, and one of my fav things was riding backwards in our station wagon, with the back window all the way down

  6. djmatticus says:

    Always loved riding in the back of my grandpa’s El Camino… it was a bit scary, but it was fun all the same.
    And, plenty of long trips growing up we would put the back seats down in our SUV so we could roll out our sleeping bags and get some shut eye over the long miles of the journey.
    Still here, mostly without brain damage, and now that I do have a son of my own, I wonder why we have all the crap safety precautions we didn’t have then. Sadly, most of them aren’t about saving a life, and are about lining some companies pockets with even more money.

  7. Bravo, Bravo!! Well said indeed! I can hear the cat fights my sister and I used to have over who got to sit in the “way – way back”! Ahhh… memories. Good times! Thanks! Now, go get those bubble wrapped, sun screen smathered, helmet wearing, little turds off your lawn! Happy Friday 🙂

  8. My early years were in outback NSW and I remember squealing with laughter in the back of the trailer attached to the family car with my older brother and our labrador as we headed out to get fire wood.
    No mishaps and I thank God I can take Shane and my friends kids to Barwon Heads 2 or 3 times a year and let them be “real” kids. 🙂
    the rainbow donkey bike is a total delight!

    • I thought of Barwon Heads when I made this post, and was going to link back to the post of mine where you first mentioned it, but I couldn’t find it or remember which one it was! Oh well, thank goodness we have places like Barwon Heads still out there! I wish we had more of them here in the States…

      • ps. I believe the main thing kids need is to be loved and whatever they enjoy doing be it kick boxing or singing Opera (and everything else in between) encouraged. I always think of “my” ES when I am in Barwon Heads and feel good the kids can ran amok without restraint.

  9. 1jaded1 says:

    This post nails it, spot on. Kids need out of that plastic bubble. My sister and I would roll over each other in the backseat, as my dad would take the hairpin turns. Our neighbor had a station wagon and we all fought to ride backwards. and wtf were helmets. Somehow we survived.

    George Carlin was classic.

    • Thanks! I cringed a little when I made this post since I know a lot of my followers have kids of their own, but I’m glad to see I have a lot of sane parents who commented! I think we all enjoyed these hazardous rides back in the good old days! Thanks for sharing your memories…

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