Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Learning How to Drive

On June 12, 1986 I turned 16. As was the custom for kids in that time - my mom took me to the DMV to take my permit test after school that day. I passed the written test with flying colors, passed the eye test, and walked out with a piece of paper that said I was allowed to operate a motor vehicle with supervision.

At the time it was the happiest day of my young life thus far. I wanted to drive home but my mother wisely decided we should get out of town before she turned over the wheel of the pickup truck we were driving to me.

Once we hit open and fairly straight road she pulled over and we switched seats. Prior to this I had never driven anything bigger than a garden tractor and even that only 2-3 times ever. Here I was behind the wheel of a 1/2 ton Chevy pickup truck - terrified and delighted at once. I carefully put on my blinker, put my foot on the brake and put the truck in drive. And started to creep towards home.

Keeping that sucker between the lines was not as easy as I thought. My mother (who was younger than I am now) was also very nervous and trying not to startle me by barking commands. Like as cars rushed up to my bumper doing the speed limit and then honked at me as I pulled over to let them pass and some gave me lovely hand gestures. Finally about 5 miles and 20 minutes later my mother said "ENOUGH, for today" and we switched back. Whew! Thankfully I got the hang of things very quickly after that first day. But apparently my dad did not think so.

Every Saturday night we went to my grandparents house, it was a tradition, about 2 months into my driving education I BEGGED to be allowed to drive. Dad reluctantly relented and he sat in the back with my sister while I was behind the wheel with mom beside me. We hadn't even gotten a mile from home when he said "PULL OVER" and then made me switch with him and he continued driving from there.

Funny - it was over 6 years later before my dad would get into the car with me driving again. The next time my dad got into the car with me? He taught me to drive a stick shift. Boy that was a fun day- he took me to a mountain road with a truck lane on the right. Just when I'd finally get the car moving up the hill and hadn't stalled it he said "STOP! do it again" by the time we got to the top of that hill I could start on a hill without rolling back and could start without bucking or stalling.

Maybe dad should have taught me to drive in the first place?


Anonymous said...

My Dad made me drive backwards around a parking lot for two hours when I learned to drive, but I still can't back up worth a damn.

Anonymous said...

I think my mom has been a passenger in a car I was driving MAYBE twice. And I'm 27.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is going to be old enough to learn to drive soon, and even as a driving instructor, I'm not quite sure I'm up to it. I'll find out soon.