I sat in the passenger seat of the truck and watched the familiar landscape pass us by as we rolled along toward our destination. Ahead was our exit which I noticed we were approaching at a higher rate of speed than was prudent, and in the blink of an eye we cruised by our turn-off at a steady 60 miles an hour. I looked across at my husband. “We just missed our turn.” No reply. “Hun, we just missed our exit.”
“Huh?” he said, turning to look in my direction with a puzzled look on his face.
“Why didn’t you turn off back there?” I inquired.
“Why didn’t you remind me?” he said as if it was my job to narrate every step of our journey.
“Because we’ve been this way a hundred times.” I said resisting the urge to add “duh” to the end of my sentence.
“Sorry, I guess I zoned out again.” he explained.
At this point I ask him to "please pull over, I’m driving from here.”
Indignantly he responds “I know how to drive.”
I assure him that I’m not challenging his knowledge of driving, fighting back the urge to say; I just want to arrive alive! Again I make my appeal “Take a break, let me drive.” I say this for both our sakes as when he says, “I zoned out again” I know how serious this can be.
There have been many incidents that he’s told me about (and who knows how many he hasn’t confessed to) like the time he found himself in a parking lot not sure where he was or how he got there, and had become filled with panic for what he might have done while “zoned out.” Or the time he set the car on cruise control and then forgot to disengage it and wondered why the car was moving too fast to merge into traffic. Or the time he didn’t stop for a red light, or took off from a red light before it turned green. Or the time his attention was diverted by tire fragments, or road-kill carcasses that might conceal an IED!
So now I don’t take anything for granted, and will tell him “turn here” “turn there” and he looks across at me like “I’m not retarded” and I know he is not. And I curse his PTSD/TBI and how a simple drive in the truck could turn out to be the last thing we ever do.