I’ve seen a lot of student drivers out on the road recently, whether in vehicles clearly marked as such, or teenagers driving slowly in parking lots while their parents are sitting in the passenger seat, fear reflective on their faces. This always makes me laugh and remember my own early experiences involving the road. As you know, it’s Thursday, and that means:
I have joined a fantastic group of ladies, who are involved in a weekly blog project. Every Thursday, we will dazzle you with our insight on various topics. And each week, we take turns coming up with the idea for the blog topic. Please check out their blogs as well, listed under my Blogroll section. Just click on:
Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.
Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.
Mom Of Many (Susanna): One Mom’s perspective on life, raising kids, knitting and other unrelated topics.
I’m sure you can see where I’m headed today, for our weekly blog topic. My pick this week: Who taught you how to drive? And, what sort of experiences did you have as a new driver on the road?
A young Sara on the road was a scary sight. Oh hell, a 34 year old Sara is just as scary! I will never claim to be a good driver. I’m just not. I’d say though that only having one car accident under my belt (which was not my fault; the driver behind me was talking on the phone and not paying attention) says a little something: I’ve been damn lucky and I have an angel sitting on my shoulder once I buckle up that seat belt!
I was like every other crazy teenager, looking forward to getting that little plastic card that represented freedom. Freedom however would not come easily to me. I was living with my best friends’ family at the time (another story for another day) and her mother volunteered to help teach me. I loved this woman as though she was my own mother, and I would never say a negative thing about her, other than the fact that she herself was a bad driver. I am sure I have held onto some of her skills and carried those with me into adulthood.
She would let me drive her very large Ford Econoline van. This vehicle was a beast, sporting bucket seats and even a bench that could fold down into a bed.
I’m not sure it was the best choice for learning how to drive, but it was what we had. We’d go out to vacant parking lots, and she’s let me practice parking, and I’d drive around aimlessly, wanting so much more than the confined space of a Kmart lot. Bless that woman’s heart- she let me drive us through a Diary Queen drive thru, where I proceeded to scrape the entire side of the van against a very large plastic cone placed next to the ordering sign. I mean, come on now; from the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one who made that mistake. I added my own little touch of blue paint to the already jumbled mess of colors and scrapes on the poor thing. I felt so terrible, and apologized so much I thought “I’m sorry” were the only words I had in my vocabulary, and she took it in stride, and did not get upset with me.
Even with that happening, she let me drive whenever we had to run errands and handled me with patience. When I would go ballistic at someone else’s comments in the van over my shitty driving, She’d tell me, “Don’t listen to them. Just pay attention to the road.”
Right before I turned 16, I broke my right foot. This upset me and derailed my chances of getting my license right when I was legally allowed to. It really felt like such a status thing. If you don’t have your license when you should while attending high school, well, it’s pretty much like writing LOSER on your forehead and walking around the halls like that all day.
After my foot healed up, I went to the local DMV to get my license, and met up with an ass for a tester. I’m sure he saw millions of teenagers like me, and was incredibly hateful. With a grimace, he had asked me to make a left turn, and I did not understand his directions clearly. He would want me to change lanes and I’m sure my nerves got the better of me. I just did not do as he asked, and he directed me to drive back to the DMV lot, and failed me. I wonder if his attitude had been a little more open and welcoming, I might have had a different outcome.
I was devastated. And so turned off by the whole experience, I did not take the test again until I was 18. This time, I chose a small town where my friends swore up and down everyone got their license and no one ever failed. And, they were right. I had a lovely woman tester who was so kind. She only dinged me on one thing. In fact, she said I was one of the best drivers she’d seen in a long time, and I started crying right there when she said that. I had been so nervous and scared after my first test run, and her telling me that filled me with such relief!
So, now I was legally allowed to terrorize others on the road. Suckers!!!
Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but I remember whipping around corners in that beastly van, and suddenly stopping when red lights seemed to creep up on me, screeching those large tires bald. (L, if you are reading this, I’m so sorry I didn’t have more respect for your van!)
As I’ve gotten older, I’d say my driving has improved a smidge. I’m not as reckless, due to my two children that I tote around with me everywhere I go. When you have other lives to worry about, it certainly changes your perspective on driving. I’ve also mellowed out a ton, and prefer to have my husband drive when he’s available to. It seems much more relaxing to be the passenger in a car.
I say this now. Give it 10 years, and I won’t want to be the passenger while my own son is learning to drive. Just the thought of it scares the crap out of me!