Behind the Wheel

As I have previously mentioned, I took drivers ed in high school. I didn’t however get my drivers license until later. The lessons I had in high school didn’t take: they stressed out both Ma and me.

It was a college friend’s dad who taught me how to drive. I was at their house all the time, and one morning he came out and threw me the car keys, asking me to drive up to the market to get some things for breakfast.

Flying Car Keys

I threw them back saying I didn’t have a license. That was not acceptable. Once a weekend we went out, initially for only a few minutes, and later for longer and longer excursions.

It was hard! I am not a natural at this at all. The level of responsibility weighed heavily me – the fact that I could hurt someone or cause major property damage scared me. Plus, I wasn’t allowed to make squealing sound effects when I took a corner too hard, AND I had to keep my hands on the wheel, even at intersections! I remember the first time I successfully made a left-hand turn and ended up in the lane I was aiming for, I was so happy I started to clap. He grabbed the wheel and let me know that the examiner wouldn’t appreciate the look of shock on my face when things went right.

Even after receiving my license, I didn’t have a car, so I didn’t get to practice the skills for a couple years.

My first time driving alone was in a rental car, on ice, with roundabouts.  Talk about trial by fire! I didn’t crash and I didn’t hit anything; therefore, it was a success.

I know I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m also not the worst.

About a month ago I accidently cut this guy off. I was sure I had plenty of distance to make the lane change. He thought otherwise. He spent the next half mile inches off my rear bumper, high beams on, constantly on the horn. I was in the slow lane with no shoulder. What exactly did he want me to do? To top it off, he didn’t even want that lane! He suddenly flew across three lanes of very heavy traffic to get to the fast lane, where he rode someone else’s bumper.  I simply don’t understand that mindset.

What is one of your most memorable learning to drive stories? Am I alone in being in college when getting my license? What did that driver expect me to do?

2 thoughts on “Behind the Wheel”

  1. Yikes – that kind of creep is scarey. My learning to drive story happened in the high school parking lot where i hit a car that was backing out of his parking spot. Oops. Didn’t even make it out onto the roads before I had an incident.

    I got my license when I was 16 and have been driving ever since. I love to drive.

    Your first time driving – on ice? in a rental car? with roundabouts? Talk about your perfect storm. I’m always a bit uncomfortable in a rental car – everything on the dashboard and the controls on steering wheel and the seats and the car’s mass – are new and in different places. And if one is renting a car, one is usually in a strange new town – so nothing is familiar. You did very well to return yourself and the car unscathed.


    1. Over the years I’ve managed to ding a couple parked cars (I left notes but they never called), a couple poles that deserved deserved it, and one occupied vehicle on the freeway (who drove off without exchanging information!).

      Rental cars are the bane of my existence. I’m surprised that I survived that first experience! Well, that and the one in England where I had to drive a manual transmission (never have mastered that) on the other (aka wrong!) side of the road.

      Recently I had a rental car up in the Bay Area. I learned that when you get the lowest rate for a car, you can end up with a crappy car. The side mirrors didn’t adjust, even when trying to move the dang thing by hand, and of course they weren’t set right for me, and it had a huge blind spot thanks to an ill-placed beam, so changing lanes was an adventure. But I survived, and that is the most important part!


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