The title of this post is more literal than it might first appear because driven refers to driving a vehicle. This summer, some of my students are being driven by me.
For reasons that relate to complex logistics, lack of reasonable alternatives, and a temporary lack of sanity, I will be driving with my students (and a postdoc) as we visit some universities and other research sites in another country. Given our itinerary, time constraints, and number of people involved, it makes sense for me to rent a fuel-efficient diesel car and drive it to the places we need to go, even though some of the driving distances are semi-substantial.
It would be nice to share the driving, as I have in the past when traveling by car with students, but I have encountered a few stark issues:
- One student does not drive at all and has never had a driver's license.
- Another student does not know how to drive a manual transmission car, the type of car that we are renting.
- The postdoc seldom drives but theoretically could drive, although the country in which we will be driving has opposite traffic rules from what he is used to.
At first I was not happy about having to do so much of the driving (and no, public transportation is not an option). But then I thought: Would I really want to be a passenger in a car driven by one of the others? In the olden days, I didn't give it much thought, but as the age difference between my students and me widens, they seem so young to me. Some of them have been driving for < 10 years, whereas I have been driving for millions of years. Some of them have never driven in a foreign country or in an unfamiliar city. It might not be safe for anyone if they drove, even if they could drive the rental car.
So, I will do lots of driving -- like a soccer mom driving my kids to practice and matches? I don't know if that analogy is accurate, but I do know that when I am driving, I am going to control the radio/CD player in the car. If I choose the right music -- how about a trip down memory lane of the music I listened to in college and grad school? -- maybe that will inspire the others to acquire some driving skills and/or to become professors so they can drive their own students and/or to work only in places where public transportation can be used on research trips.
2 months ago