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AARP members get the breaks

December 11, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

We got this press release Monday headlined "Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Fighting to Eliminate Obsolete Federal Agencies."

Good. He can start with Congress.

I am very upset (I'm too tired to be outraged, at the moment) because as mentioned in the past, I am a member of the only demographic in the nation that Congress pays no attention to whatsoever.

Being post-Boomer, pre-Xer, non-child, non-senior, non-party affiliated, not particularly lacking for anything and neither a gun toter nor a gun hater, government pays me no attention whatsoever, except when it wants something - which come to think of it, is often enough.

At the moment, I am tired of hearing about the Medicare reform and the senior Prescription Drug Benefit. Now if members of Congress would pass an Illicit Drug Benefit for people my age, I might sit up and take interest. But do they? Humph.

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If you have the AARP on your side, you get all the breaks. (I love their television ads for the drug plan more than I can say: "No, this prescription drug plan won't really help anyone and it will add billions to the deficit, but we support it fully because it is better than nothing and if we don't, Karl Rove will have our thumbs.)

But I think we in the under-50 set need to sit up and take notice of what's happening with senior-related perks, and I am speaking specifically of a court case in Washington County Circuit Court on Monday which involved a 71-year-old man who was convicted of multiple charges after leading police on a chase through two states.

According to police accounts, the gentleman's pickup was being chased in West Virginia, crossed into Maryland, had two tires punctured, kept going anyway, crossed into the median of the interstate and collided with two police cars. It took seven or eight troopers to subdue the man, one officer was injured and he had 20 charges filed against him. Another classic case of Road Age.

And the sentence? He lost his Maryland driving privileges. He was also fined nearly $7,000.

Your kidding, right? Lost his license? If he'd gotten into a chase and only hit one police cruiser, what would it have cost him, two points?

Man, does it ever pay to be retired. I mean, I do this, and I'm not going to get out of the caliboose UNTIL I'm age 71.

Tell you what, though. I've got to hand it to the guy. No going 40 mph in the fast lane with the left blinker on for him. He's my kind of senior driver. In fact, I plan to use him as a role model in my advancing years. When I hit 70, you won't see me in white shoes and a peddler's cap riding the brake and just peaking my head over top of the steering wheel.

No sir, when I'm on the highway I am going to become ALUMINUM WALKER WARRIOR! Some punk in a Dodge Neon cuts me off and we're doing a little dance down at bumper junction.

Turns out though, in this case there were what are known as mitigating circumstances, those being that the man was taking three prescription medications which altered his behavior. One of them was the sleeping aid Ambien, which I know from personal experience can be nasty stuff. I don't care if I'm awake for 3 million straight hours, I am never taking another sleeping medication. So we can all relax, it was all the fault of prescription drugs and I think everyone can breathe easier knowing that...

Uh oh.

Did I mention Congress' new Prescription Drug Benefit?

Oh dear. Cheap meds for all. Hmm. This could make highway driving very interesting over the next couple of decades. There's something to think about: Congressionally subsidized high-speed police chases.

"Where are you going grandpa, cruising at midnight?"

"May as well, the Ambien hasn't kicked in yet."

Oh well, what are you going to do? We already have people driving while talking on their cell phones and eating tacos. How's the government passing out meds going to be any worse?

All I know is that I'm not going out on the road again until I've had a good tranquilizer.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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