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Smoking Out The Bad Instructors

, , , | Learning | May 21, 2020

I’m in driver’s ed, and my instructor is severely addicted to cigarettes. The practical portion of the course consists of hour-long driving sessions with two students and the instructor, each student driving for a half-hour.

The instructor can’t make it the full hour without a cigarette. Since he’s not allowed to smoke in the company vehicle, he insists on taking a ten-minute break when switching drivers. He’ll have us pull into a fast food place to practice parking and then tell us to go buy a snack if we want while he smokes outside. All the students are happy with this arrangement because we get the chance to buy a milkshake, but it’s not technically allowed under company rules.

One thing that the instructor teaches us that isn’t in any of the course materials is that we always have to keep the driver’s window cracked open, no matter what. He claims that it’s for safety reasons, but we all suspect it’s because he always has a cigarette in his own car and doesn’t want to marinate in the smoke.

I have a driving session one day when the weather is bad, but not bad enough to cancel. It’s 45°F (7°C) and absolutely pouring, with the rain sometimes blowing sideways. I have just gotten into the backseat, with the other student in the driver’s seat. The instructor has her go through all the normal pre-driving stuff, and then this happens.

Instructor: “All right, the only thing you’ve forgotten is to crack open the window. Go ahead and do that now.”

Student: “But it’s raining!”

Instructor: “So? I told you, it’s dangerous to drive with all the windows closed.”

Student: “I’ve literally never heard that from anyone else, ever. Everyone I know drives with all the windows closed, unless it’s a nice day, maybe.”

Instructor: “Then they’re doing it wrong! See, if you have all the windows closed and your tailpipe gets blocked, exhaust will fill the car. I knew some boys who had that happen way back when. They backed too far into a parking spot, not realizing they had the tailpipe flush against the wall, and sat in the idling car for a while. And guess what? They all died!

Student: “Um… I’m sorry to hear that, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen right now. We’re going to be driving, not idling.”

Instructor: “You have to get in the habit of being prepared! If those boys made sure to always have a window open, they’d still be alive today! Now put the window down!”

Student: “Could it at least be the one no one’s sitting next to?”

Instructor: “No, it has to be yours so you’re always aware it’s open.”

She certainly was aware it was open the whole time, since she got rained on almost constantly. And then, after we switched drivers, I went through the same thing. We were both pretty miserable by the time the lesson was over. 

Our parents weren’t exactly pleased to find their children soaking wet on one side only and shivering when they came to pick us up. On the way home, I ranted a bit to my mom about the window thing and blamed it all on the instructor’s cigarette addiction. I mentioned in passing the ten-minute cigarette break he was taking in the middle of every lesson, which my mom was very interested in.

At the next lesson, I found out that the instructor had been fired after both my mom and the other student’s mom called to complain about the breaks and him letting us get soaked and freezing because of his own weird belief that the company did not share. The new instructor was confused when several students opened the window a crack even though it was a cold day.

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