Friday, July 31, 2009

Driving me crazy

Life at home took an interesting turn this month.
Scooter turned 16, and that means he is eager to get behind the wheel of a car.
It also means he is learning a lot about driving and that is causing a few challenges for yours truly.
He has spent the past few months studying on-line for his written exam and felt confident going in to write the test for the first time, but he got a couple too many wrong answers and has to take the test again – no biggie.
If there is one thing Scooter has it's tenacity. He simply never gives up. He is also a super laid back guy, so coming up short on the first test did not phase him in the least.
I asked what happened.
“There were some questions I did not know the answer to, so I thought, 'What would dad do in this situation?' Most of them were wrong. I think you need to take a drivers course again.”
And so it begins.
He is already correcting little driving habits I have formed over the years that are not exactly in the textbook.
“Dad, your hands are supposed to be at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Dad, you didn't signal when you changed lanes. Dad the speed limit is not 385 kmh. Dad...”
And he has not even taken a driving course yet.
What kind of juvenile instructional hell am I in for when he gets a really good idea of how to handle himself on the road?
“Dad you're doing this wrong. Dad you're doing that wrong.”
“Son, I appreciate your desire to be a good driver and to study the rules and apply them to the letter, but I am also sure you can appreciate just how long a walk it is to get home, so...”
Getting a license today is much harder than when I was a scruffy-chinned pup of 16.
Back then, you had your learner's license for a few weeks, took the driving test and if you passed you were on your own.
That was it. I did take a driving course, but was woefully inexperienced when I took the wheel on my own.
Of course, I did not know that at the time.
Hey, I was 16 years old, that means I was all grown up. And if I am grown up, it means I am capable of doing grown up things, like drive a car.
Besides, all you really have to do is turn the steering wheel and apply the brake, how tough can that be for a grown up like myself.
My first car was a red, 1974 Toyota Corolla and it was slower than a sloth on Valium – which was a good thing considering my aptitude for going fast.
I bought it on a Wednesday and smacked it up (the first time) on the following Saturday. It was a minor accident where the front fender of my car tried to occupy a space already filled by the rear bumper of a Ford pick-up truck as I scooted through a yellow light. Oops.
There was no damage to the monster truck, but I customized my little red car with a passenger-side fender that was not so much flat as it was wide.
I took the car home, removed the fender and drove around like that for a couple of weeks until I could afford another one.
It did not help that me and my friends were quite, um, how to put this, energetic when it came to driving.
Speed limits were more of a suggestion than anything else and I just thank the good Lord above that none of us were ever in a bad wreck.
It is significantly more complex to get a full-fledged driver's license now days and I say good on them. It should have been tougher back then too, because even a grown-up 16 year old may not always exhibit the best judgment.

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