"Sorry, Mr. Grandin," Gus Wilson apologized to
the owner of an expensive sedan that had stopped at the Model Garage,
"I'd be glad to go out with you and see if I can locate that funny noise
but, you see, I'm expecting a phone call any minute now. Bring the car
around tomorrow or the next day when you have time to leave it so I can give
it a good going over."
Grandin started his car and drove off
with the effortless ease of the expert driver. Joe Clark eyed his
partner speculatively. It wasn't like him to pass up jobs. But Gus
went back to the car on which he was working without offering any
explanation. He finished it a few minutes before the owner walked in.
"All ready, Mr. Meekins," he said.
"Drive me around a bit so I can see if everything is in good shape."
Meekins smiled diffidently. "I'm
not so very good as a driver, Gus, but if you don't mind hearing the gears
grind once in a while, I'd be delighted to try it out that way."
By the time they returned
Joe's curiosity was working.
"Tell me, Gus," he asked. "Why you hand
Grandin a phoney excuse to get out of driving with him and then invite
yourself for a ride with a dub like Meekins? Anybody with half an eye
can see Grandin is a far better driver."
Gus grunted. "Did you ever
try to drive a horse over a bridge that looked all right but wasn't really
safe, and then have the horse kind of snort and refuse to put a foot on the
bridge? That's how Grandin affects me, except of course the horse only
has his instinct to go by while I've got reasons for acting as I did,"
"What are they?" Joe argued.
"Grandin can drive rings around Meekins any day in the week. You don't
mean to tell me an expert driver is not as safe to ride with as a dub, do
"Sometimes he is and sometimes he isn't,"
Gus said noncommittally. "Have you talked with Grandin enough to know
"Sure I have," Joe asserted, He's about
the most conceited bird I've every met. The world revolves around
Grandin - according to him. But what's that got to do with driving a
car? There's nobody around here handles a car say better than he
"I'll admit that," agreed Gus, "But
the point is, a conceited egotistical man, or woman, is mighty likely to be
a dangerous driver no matter how expert he is at handling the gear shift and
steering wheel. Why? Because the conceited bird always has it at the
back of his skull that he's better and more important than the fellows he
meets on the road. Whenever it's a question of who is to give
way, the swelled-headed guy instinctively expects the other fellow to back
water. When he blows his horn he just naturally expects other
people to get out of his way.
"A bird like that is a bad risk for the
accident insurance companies because sooner or later he is going to get into
a mix-up with some one who either don't know how to handle a car or else has
a swelled head too - then there's a smash."
"And if he comes out of it alive," Joe
interrupted, "at least the swelled head shrinks a couple of sizes."
"Not if his bump of conceit is a big one,
like Grandin's," said Gus. "He just naturally figures that the other
fellow is entirely to blame and he goes barging along, letting the rest of
the world watch out for itself."
"Maybe so," said Joe, "but if you
all the conceited drivers off the road there'd hardly be any motorists
"G'wan!" Gus grinned. "You
can't laugh it off that way. It's too serious. I'm not talking
about just ordinary conceit. Every fellow ought to take a little pride
in his own accomplishments. It's good for him. It makes him
self-confident. I mean the bird that's so swelled up with conceit that
he's lost all sense of values. He forgets that the other fellow has as
many rights as he has.
"That," Gus continued, "is the real meat
of this safe driving business - remembering all the time that the other
fellow has as many rights as you have. It isn't a question of brains.
A dim - wit who can't read or understand anything beyond a tabloid newspaper
may be a better and safer driver than a mechanical genius with a whole head
full of gray matter. The dim--wit may not know much but if he has the
right idea about what he does know, I'll drive with him any day.
"Of course conceit is only one of the
three main causes of accidents. Carelessness comes first,
swelled-headedness next, and third place goes to those unfortunate people
with nerves and muscles that never learned how to work together - people who
turn the wheel the wrong way or step on the accelerator instead of the brake
when they get into a jam. The fancy name for that is lack of muscular
coordination, but it really is an extra severe case of plain clumsiness just
as self-headedness is too much development of the ordinary pride everyone
"Seems to me Meekins is in that class,"
Joe again interrupted. "He's clumsy."
"He's clumsy only because he hasn't
driven very long," Gus replied. "There's nothing the matter with his
muscles and nerves, they just need training. The fellows I mean are so
clumsy they won't ever learn no matter how long they try. In factories
where they have a lot of machinery, they call the hopelessly clumsy or
conceited workmen repeaters because they keep on having one accident after
another as long as they are on the job.
"Meekins already has got to the point
where his foot slams on the brake without his having to think about it - I
watched him the other day when he was driving out and a car came around the
corner unexpectedly. And he seems to go out of his way to give the
other fellow a break. Some day he may have a smash, but if he does
it'll either be the other fellow's fault or else it'll be one of those
unavoidable freaks that do happen once in a while where nobody's to blame."
"Well," said Joe as he pulled out his
ledger and prepared to make out the monthly bills, "it all sounds fine the
way you say it, but I think you're getting a bit too theoretical like some
of those psychology sharps with their subconscious reactions and all the
rest of that piffle."
Joes voice trailed off into a grunt of
displeasure as he became absorbed in an account that was several months
Some weeks later, Joe arrived at the
Model Garage at opening time with a sheepish expression on his face.
He thrust a copy of the local paper under Gus's nose. "I guess you
win," he muttered.
Gus took the paper and began to read the
Hurt in Car Crash
A car owned
and driven by H. D. Grandin,
342 West Main Street, was wrecked
and Grandin sustained a fractured leg in a collision with a truck driven by
John Giltry, at the Hillsbury crossing on the turnpike yesterday afternoon.
Giltry was uninjured and his truck was but slightly damaged. Grandin
was rushed to the hospital where it was said his injuries were not serious
but will keep him confined for three weeks or a month. Grandin blames
Giltry for the accident, saying that, as he came to the crossing, he blew his
horn in time for the truck to get out of the way. Giltry asked, "Why
didn't Grandin stop?" Turnpike police have started an investigation