Friday, April 5, 2013

Middlest Learns to Drive

This past January, Middlest took her written test for her learner’s permit. I wrote about that experience here. Throughout the past three months, she has diligently been practicing her driving skills. This amazing young woman’s driving has gone from sending me into panic attacks to being able to sit back and relax while she drives; and by relax I mean not grip the seat with white knuckles.

This is not to say she is ready to take her driver’s test; she still has trouble with lane changes. I can understand her concern with changing lanes. Using the mirrors to see where vehicles are behind you takes a little getting used to and so we work on changing lanes.

“Dad, can I change lanes now?”

“Signal your intention, check your mirrors, check your blind spot,” is my stock reply. “Do you think you can maneuver safely?”

“I think so; do you think it is safe?”

I squirm and twist in my seat and see she has plenty of room to move over, but I do not hear that familiar clicking of the signal light as it turns on and off. “Signal....Signal!...SIGNAL!!” I repeat myself, louder and more urgently each time. As I speak, I continue to twist and turn and notice on the dashboard that she has, indeed, been signaling.

At the same moment I realize she signaled her intention appropriately, she matches my tone of voice, and with her sharp wit, which she has often directed at her poor father, “Dad, I have been signaling for so long it is growing a beard!”

After running a few errands, with Middlest driving, and trying to find a parking spot in a crowded parking lot, where the lines had faded to nothing, she had had enough driving. As we left the last store she said, “Dad, I don’t want to drive home, I have had enough.”

I tried everything I could to coax and convince her to drive home. She refused and since she still had the keys, she unlocked the door, and sat defiantly in the passenger seat.

Something about sitting in the right hand side of the car seems to make everyone a better driver. On the short drive home she expressed concern over my following distance, my speed, my proximity to vehicles on either side of me, and how I almost missed our drive way.

In my defense, I drive large yellow vehicles for my part-time job. In those vehicles, a wide turn is the only way to maneuver around corners. Sometimes, when I am in my car, I forget it is only a Toyota Corolla and does not need such a large area to turn. At times, I also forget I can turn right on red. I deeply apologize to the impatient mini-van at the red light, who repeatedly blew its horn at me. Until I realized I could actually make a legal right on red.

I do find it interesting that those people who sit on the right hand side of the vehicle can always seem to drive better than the person sitting on the left. Perhaps our British friends have it right and we should move all our driving positions to the right hand side of the vehicle. Since sitting on the right hand side of the vehicle imparts instant expertness to driving, this should reduce accidents by a significant amount.

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