My younger brother recently called me to tell me he got his driver’s license. After telling me the good news, he added, “and Dad already lets me pull out of the garage” to his announcement of the news.
I was momentarily indignant about the snarky remark, much like I am when someone honks at me (which happens fairly regularly), until I realized that he had a point.
I’ll admit it: I am not a good driver. I’m not a bad driver – really. I’m good enough to not endanger anyone while I drive, and I’ve gotten much better. But my issues stem from my complete and utter lack of interest in driving.
It all started when I turned sixteen. My parents had to literally prod me to get my learner’s permit. I had absolutely no desire to drive. Call me lazy, but if other people could get me where I needed to go, why bother?
After a few weeks of incessant protest by my parents, I went to PennDOT to take my learner’s permit exam, which I failed. And I couldn’t care less. In any other scenario, I would be devastated, but failing was a sort of scapegoat.
Until my parents made me take it again. I passed the second time, and my mom immediately took me to a local park to try my hand at driving our family van.
Perched nervously behind the wheel, I asked my mom which pedal I should press down. That’s right—I didn’t even know which pedal was the gas and which was the brake.
Before starting to drive, my mom looked at me and said, “Now Mandy, I don’t want you to be like that girl.”
“What girl, Mom?” I had asked, unsure of where the conversation was going.
“You know, the one who bucked the curb her first time driving with her dad at a park and killed a mother and her young toddler,” she said, very matter of fact.
That was it. I was terrified. I managed to complete a timid lap around the parking lot at 2 miles an hour. Two weeks later, I accidentally steamrolled an already-dead groundhog in the middle of the road.
Fortunately, ten hours with a professional driving instructor improved my confidence enough to help me earn my license on the first try.
I’m still learning and I still make my fair share of mistakes. Over break, I was driving with my dad at night when a Dalmatian ran out in front of the car. I could have sworn the dog looked at me in thanks after I slammed on the breaks.
As it turns out it, my Dalmatian was actually a branch blown by the wind. And yes, I still get teased about it.