Driving Lessons & Life Lessons —
Reading time: 2 1/2 minutes –
My son took the driver’s test (twice I learned later, overhearing his conversation with his aunt) and got his permit on Friday. If anyone within a five-mile radius reads this, you’ve been warned.
The first thing to know is this: I’m his instructor. The reason is: My wife majored in Anxiety with a minor in Worst-case Scenarios. No way can she hang in the car with a new driver. The reason is not: Because I’m a really good driver and he can follow my example. Yes, that is NOT the reason. I’m not a good driver. I’m the opposite. I get how it works, I understand the rules, I just have a hard time with the paying attention part of it. Also, left turns.
So we venture out for Day One. After a few spins around the high school parking lot, I deem Gabe ready. It’s the weekend. Few cars. What can go wrong? I explain the controls on the dashboard to him – the ones I understand anyway – and we shove off. On a scale of 1 to 10 where blind leading the blind is 1, we’re a momentum-gaining 0.8, which happens to be the legal limit for blood-alcohol content in our state, so we talk about that for the first couple miles when Gabe makes his first of what will turn out to be many suggestions.
“They should put something on cars so you can tell the person behind you if you’re going to turn.”
I look at him. Try to decide if he’s being facetious, which is often his way. Sarcasm to this teenager is like calories to your body: a necessary evil.
“They do,” I say. Mental note: make sure he uses his blinker. Did I remember to point that out back at the high school parking lot? Likely not. “It’s called your blinker.”
“Oh,” he says. It’s more a question than a statement.
Long pause. “So it’s like an appendix,” he says at last.
I give him a longer look, but for the same reason about his sarcasm. “Um… what?”
“Everybody has one. But nobody uses it. How come nobody uses a blinker if they have one?”
My turn for a long pause. All I can think is these are going to be interesting rides. I’m still on my long pause, by the way. Haven’t come up with a sufficient answer yet.
God didn’t pause. Sent down a torrential rain. Did I mention I drive a convertible? We went back to the high school parking lot. I took over, careful to remember to use my turn indicator on the way home.
Day One count: We hit zero pedestrians. I’m not tallying the number of curbs hit yet. But if I was: two. The first ride is deemed a smashing success. Looking forward to Day Two. Come along for the ride … if you’re brave enough.