Monday, November 01, 2010

Fifteen: The year I don't remember but learned to drive

A year ago this month, I started telling stories about my life.  And then I got distracted -- likely by something shiny -- and never finished it.  I am here to rectify this. 


For some reason, when I get to 15 years of age I am stumped to think of a story.  Seriously, I got nothing.  It's like 15 was either so unoriginal or so traumatic that I blocked most of it from my memory.  It is possible that it was both.  Teenagers are like that.

I am sure of the time lines and I think I was in Grade 10 that year.  I might have had my first real boyfriend that summer (if "real" is considered on and off for an entire week!) and I know that it was the fall where a well-meaning teacher introduced me to the class as the girl who tries out for all sports and never gets on a team.

But then, I remembered that I learned how to drive when I was 15.  Well, 15 and a half, but we won't split hairs.  Suddenly a plethora of stories flooded my brain.  And here we go...

In my high school, we were offered driver training.  It happened a couple of days a week, after school -- in a classroom.  You know, where all driver training should be.  I spent a month or two (who can remember now!) taking classes, reading on rules of the road, watching videos of accidents, and thinking about driving.  After all that, I wrote my exam and was pronounced ready to drive!

At this point, I had still never sat behind the wheel other than to be in control of the heater when my parents left us in the car to go grocery shopping.  But that didn't stop my father.

One day, Dad announced we would start with me driving.  We got into the van and I don't know how but we drove a little ways down the street.  My dad was a farm boy who likely drove his first vehicle at 6 years old, so I don't think it dawned on him that I had never in my life put my foot on the gas pedal.  And yet, here we were, driving Ky to her friend's house.

It was a disaster.  I didn't know how hard to press the gas, the brake pedal seemed to slam the van to a stop, and I had no idea how to keep the van on the road or between the lines.  I seem to remember there being a lot of yelling.

Much of my driver training went badly.  I'm not sure how much of that had to do with the teacher or the student.  Well, a lot of it had to do with the student.

One of my first excursions resulted in me driving the van beside a Loraas bin and clipping the side of the van on the metal extensions used to lift the bin.  Next, I turned into a parking lot and caught the edge of the van siding on an electric pole.  It did not damage the van at all, but cleanly slid the siding out of the metal that held it in place.  Shortly after that, I tore the side view mirror off as I pulled into the garage.

Much of my student driver experience was like that.  I had difficulty staying in the lines on the road.  I could not figure out how to change lanes safely in front of another vehicle.  I couldn't figure out how long it should take to change lanes.  It was all a disaster.

After awhile, we figured out a system.  The middle line of the road had to disappear into the far corner of my windshield.  That way, I stayed in the lines.  It took three dots on the road to change from one lane to the other.  (Although, this does not apply on the highway which I found out by scaring all the occupants of the vehicle to near death.)  There had to be a small amount of the road showing between me and the car in front of me when pulling to a stop light.  And on, and on.

It was 5 years before they discovered I had no depth perception.  I got a pair of glasses and, suddenly, the world made sense.  Unfortunately, the damage had been done.  I had been taught to drive by my father.


  1. I remember that day only too well. You are right, it just never dawned on me that you couldn't just get behind the wheel and drive.
    And I apologize to the world for teaching you to drive.

  2. prairie nymph04/11/2010, 15:16

    I think Grandpa H. gave me my first lesson in driving- which was not a lesson at all but a field with no bales.
    In India (driving a stick shift backwards and on the other side of the road covered with goats, waterbuffalo and other living things) they thought I was a good driver.


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