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Normally, We Say, “Eyes On The Road,” But This Is Better

, , , , , | Learning | November 5, 2021

I bought my first car and went to driving school very late. I was nervous, and before the driving lessons, I asked my old friend, who was my age but had already been driving for ten years, to give me a private lesson in his car.

He readily agreed, and we went and found an empty country road where I took the wheel and drove up and down for some hours, just to get the most basic skills, feeling the brakes, clutch, changing gears, etc. My friend was riding shotgun and gently pointed out my mistakes.

After some time, I felt more confident, so I thanked him and asked if there was any general advice he would like to give me before I went to the driving school. He thought deeply for a minute or so.

Friend: “When driving, do not watch the pedals.”

Not what I expected, but trust me, VERY good driving advice!

Taking A Right Turn Into A Valuable Lesson

, , , , | Learning | October 12, 2021

I’m one of those people who often have trouble telling their left from their right. Sometimes I have no trouble at all, but most of the time when someone directs me to the right I go left, and vice versa, with complete confidence until someone calls me back and sets me straight. I’m a little worried about this when I start taking driving lessons, as I’m a perfectionist and have gotten in trouble because of this “handicap”, but thankfully, my driving instructor has a habit of pointing to where he wants me to go. One day, however…

Driving Instructor: “At the next intersection, I want you to turn left.”

He does not point this time. I just say okay and make the requested turn… or so I think.

Driving Instructor: “Okay, you executed that turn very well, but I told you to go to the left, and you turned right instead.”

I start apologizing profusely and manage to stammer that I can’t always tell left from right. I expect the same telling-off I have gotten in the past from teachers or others for “not paying attention,” but instead, he reassures me.

Driving Instructor: “It’s okay; lots of students have trouble with left and right. The point isn’t getting the directions right but driving safely. You can take a wrong turn anytime, even on the exam, and it won’t be a big deal as long as you don’t panic and try to correct in an unsafe way. Every driver makes mistakes, but as long as you don’t endanger yourself or others making them or trying to correct them, it doesn’t really matter. Okay?”

Me: “Yeah, okay, that makes sense. Thanks.”

Driving Instructor: “No problem. That’s why I’m here. Just make sure to mention it during your exam so they know to point the directions, and remember to stay calm. Now, I think this has given us a nice opportunity to practice U-turns, so pick a spot.”

I mulled that speech over for a while, and it really made me less nervous while driving because I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, just safe. That lesson made its way into other parts of my life, as well, and I became much less of a perfectionist, which made my life quite a bit easier. All because I turned right instead of left. Oh, and I passed my driving exam, too.

Class Clown On His Way To Steal Your Girl

, , , , , , , , | Learning | August 15, 2020

I take driver’s ed at a local high school with other teenagers. One is committed to being the class clown, and we all think he is doing pretty well at it. For example, after our teacher stresses that a green traffic light means go WHEN CLEAR, he asks what red means. The class clown calls out, “Stop when clear!”

One day, the classroom phone rings. The class clown is sitting closest and offers to answer it. The teacher obliges.

Class Clown: “Hello, [Teacher]’s room; this is [Class Clown]… Yes, that’s me. Oh, [Teacher] has mentioned me?”

Teacher: “Who is it?”

Class Clown: “Your wife.”

He continues the conversation with the teacher’s wife. The teacher walks over to the phone.

Teacher: “Here, let me have the phone.”

Class Clown: “She said she wants to talk to me.”

The teacher rolls his eyes and grabs the phone.

Teacher: “Right. Hi, honey, I— What? Um, okay.”

He then hands the phone back to the class clown.

Teacher: “She wanted to let me know what she was making for dinner tonight… and now she wants to talk to you again.”

The class clown and the teacher’s wife ended up talking another five or ten minutes. From the side of the conversation we could hear, it sounded like a pleasant one!

This Guy Is Worse Than “Red Asphalt”

, , , , , , | Learning | July 29, 2020

When I was in high school, our school offered a driver’s ed course. It was a classroom-only course to learn the rules of the road; there was no practical driving in an actual vehicle. I’m convinced that the teacher they’d chosen for this class hated teenagers. Why he was teaching in a high school, I’ll never know.

On the very first day of class, he told us all that he “believed that no teenager should ever drive a car” and that his own teenage son was forbidden from taking a driver’s ed course until [Teacher] was satisfied with how much he knew about driving. I always wondered how the poor kid was expected to learn enough to satisfy his dad without taking any classes. 

Throughout the class, the teacher would tell us graphic stories about what would happen if we drank and drove, used our phone while driving, or even had the radio on in the car. Here are some of my favorites.

He described getting into a car accident and getting thrown through the windshield because, of course, we aren’t wearing seatbelts. This one included a handout with a graphic play-by-play of the horrific damage done to your body from one moment to the next. 

He described taking a run turn too quickly on a motorcycle, losing control, and crashing into a cornfield. In this particular lovely scenario, both of our legs are broken, so it takes three days to drag ourselves back to the road so anyone can see us to rescue us. I’m not sure how far into this hypothetical cornfield he imagined we’d be thrown.

By the end of the five-week course, half of the fifteen- or sixteen-year-old students in the class that had been so excited about getting a license were now completely terrified of going anywhere near a vehicle. 

This was a fine example of a teacher with no interest in teaching. He didn’t want teenagers to drive, and he certainly got what he wanted. I don’t think a single one of us felt prepared for behind-the-wheel practice after that class.

Motoring Right On Through To Your License

, , , , , | Learning | June 1, 2020

When I am twenty-two, I decide to get a license to drive the second-largest motorcycle, which is the best I can do at the time. (A2, for you EU-citizens out there.) In drivers’ ed for a normal car, I had teachers that I would classify as “meh” at best, but for the motorcycle lessons, my teacher is awesome and knows exactly how to motivate his students.

While I love the driving lessons, the thought of taking the practical exam makes me very nervous as I failed several times when getting a license to drive a car. My teacher has already asked which spot I would prefer for the driving exercises as he has the possibility to make a suggestion to the examiner — unofficially, of course.

One thing that I am scared of most is one of the basic exercises: driving in a perfect circle. It’s not that I can’t do it technically; it’s just that the radius isn’t marked on the ground and I am terrible at guessing how many metres I am from the centre. This goes for motorcycling, biking, or horseback riding — I just can’t do it.

My teacher knows this and tries to calm me down by explaining that the examiner can choose from several exercises but he can only choose one, which means that if I am tested in, for example, stop-and-go, I won’t have to do the circle. I am good at stop-and-go, so I really hope we will do that one.

Fifteen minutes before the exam, we stop at a gas station to fill up and check the tyre pressure. Nervous as I am, I do something stupid and fall down with the motorcycle, hurting my knee — but not so bad that I couldn’t continue — and breaking the clutch lever! I can’t drive like this safely so we stop at the motorcycle dealership and my teacher calls the examiner to tell him we will run late. While the lever is being replaced, I am standing outside in tears. This is about as bad as it can get.

My teacher tries to calm me down. “Okay, so that is done now; it’s over,” he says. “Now you can focus on the exam and pass it.”

“I can try,” I say, shakily.

My teacher says confidently, “No! We’re not here to try. It’s far too expensive for that. You’re gonna do it!”

Cheered up only a little, I start the exam. For the base exercises, my teacher makes sure we go to the place I know best. Now comes the part I am so scared of; will the examiner make me drive in circles? I try to tell myself how unlikely that is when I hear my teacher over the radio making a subtle suggestion to the examiner.

“So, which exercise should we do first? Stop-and-go or—”

“Yeah, yeah, do that,” the examiner says.

I immediately cheer up over the little trick my teacher pulled, even if, on second thought, the examiner probably knew exactly what was going on.

And that’s how my teacher chose the perfect spot for the exam, saved me from the possibility of circle driving, and later even told the examiner that a line I illegally crossed was absolutely impossible to see with the wet surface of the road. I passed on the first try!

To this day, I think he is the perfect teacher and if I ever find the money to do the license for big motorcycles, I will definitely go to him! Even if I still have a guilty conscience about denting that motorcycle.