I drove a friend's daughter to her driver's ed session recently, and it was quite a trip down memory lane.
I am having trouble trying to remember how old I was when I took driver's ed. Obviously I was yet to turn sixteen, but I don't recall if I had my permit for a year or only a few months. Whatever
The instructor was also one of the high school track coaches. He was one of the nicest, sweetest, friendliest staff members, and we were lucky to have him. Then again, he would wear bright pink tracksuits with red shoes to invitationals so we would be able to find him in an emergency, but I also think that he was more than just eccentric - he liked to stand out. Everyone probably thought that he was a little loopy, but he wasn't. He was just a genuinely good person.
(Of course, nothing takes away from the fact that he looked liked Gargamel. The boys track team used to do their warm-up half mile by jogging around singing the tune to The Smurfs. )
So when I discovered that he was teaching my section of driver's ed that summer, I was happy and relieved. I was absolutely terrified to drive, but determined to get my permit as soon as humanly possible. I was scared of being on the road in my mom's minivan, sure, but I was more scared that I would never get my license and be doomed to rely on other people forever.
The classroom portion of driver's ed was more than painful. It was the middle of the summer, the school was completely sweltering, and though I had been getting more sleep than I probably did as an infant, it was still a struggle to stay awake in that class.
I do remember one thing - one of the videos we watched was about merging onto the expressway. "PICK YOUR SPOT AND GO" was drilled into our brains over and over again. So why is it that NO ONE seems to do this?
Anyway, my first road session was fine. I think that it was just around the school parking lot and then into the surrounding neighborhood. My driving partner, Beth, was a good driver. She seemed to be in control and never freaked out. Plus, she was much taller than me and had no trouble reaching the pedals.
I think that I did fine my first time out. I don't really remember. I do, in fact, remember my first venture on the expressway. It was terrifying. Gargamel yelled at me and made me cry. I had to let Beth drive the rest of the way home. But it was a downpour and I started freaking out with two other people in the car. It was necessary.
He made Kelly run several lights, seemingly because he couldn't make a decision as the lights turned yellow.
Anyway, it's been quite some time, and I still wouldn't consider myself a great driver. I drive way too fast, I'm on the phone way too much, and I get annoyed when people don't seem to read my mind and GET OUT OF MY WAY. But I can parallel park! And when it rains, I don't get freaked out. At all.