Totally Driving This Conversation

, , , , , , | Learning | October 5, 2018

(It’s my second driving lesson, and I have a different instructor this time: a woman in her forties who seems very nice and motherly. At the start of the lesson, I’m rather happy and smiling because I’ve finally gotten some feeling for the gear shift. This happens after we’ve been driving around for maybe fifteen minutes, all the while making small-talk. This is a bit stressful for me, since it’s rather distracting, but I figure she knows better than I do.)

Instructor: “Yes, I like driving around with you young folk; I always meet new people with new perspectives. It’s really refreshing.”

Me: *trying not to be too distracted* “That sounds nice.”

Instructor: “You know, people tell me all sorts of things.”

(She waits for an answer, but I’m too busy entering a roundabout.)

Instructor: “Especially the girls. I like having a girl-to-girl talk, you know? Most girls know they can trust me, and we get along immediately.”

Me: “Oh, yes?”

Instructor: “Yeah, just like with you. Most girls tell me all about their problems. You know, if you have any problems, you can talk to me.”

(I break for a jaywalker, HARD, and the car dies, but she doesn’t react at all.)

Instructor: “You can tell me anything you like. A few girls told me about how they were abused at home or by friends.”

Me: “Oh, wow.”

Instructor: “You can tell me if you were abused, okay? If there is anyone doing things to you you don’t like, you can tell me. Did something happen to you?”

Me: “No.”

Instructor: “Well, if you want to talk about it, you can always come to me.”

(The rest of the lesson went in a similar vein. At the end, I was barely holding it together from the stress of driving for the second time ever, looking out for people crossing the street, and trying to hold up this uncomfortable conversation, and I felt worse than after the first lesson. I don’t think she was trying to be as creepy as she was, implying and probing about bad things happening to me, and she didn’t do it during later lessons, but I never felt at ease around her.)

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What About The Slightly-Vexed Chicken?

, , , , , | Learning | July 23, 2018

(In our sophomore year of high school, we have to take Driver’s Ed classroom instruction for one of the four quarters in our P.E. class. Mostly, we watch educational films on the topic and then discuss them. Some mornings, our teacher will come in with an anecdote to share of some horrible thing he witnessed during his morning commute.)

Teacher: “All right class, today I have a very important lesson for you. This is possibly the most important one I will ever teach, so pay attention!”

(We all sit up a little straighter.)

Teacher: “If, for some reason, you are ever in a situation where another driver is confronting you outside your vehicles, DON’T. DO. The ANGRY. CHICKEN!”

Classmate: “The what?”

Teacher: “You know, the Angry Chicken.” *suddenly thrusts his chest out, palms forward, but with his hands down and behind him* “What? WHAT?! You know, like that. The Angry Chicken.”

Classmate #2: “Why not?”

Teacher: “Because it’s stupid. Not only do you look like an idiot, but you’re going to piss the other guy off, and your hands are all the way back here, where they can’t do any good. He’s going to knock you flat before you can do a thing about it.”

Classmate #3: “So, what should we do, then?”

Teacher: “Ideally, not get into a confrontation outside your car. But, if needs must, keep your hands up and in front of you, so can actually block a punch if he throws one.” *brings his hands up about a foot in front of and to either side of his face, palms toward himself* “What? WHAT?! Like that.”

(It’s been more than a decade since I took his class, but I will never forget that one lesson: don’t do the Angry Chicken!)

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Don’t Drink And Parent

, , , , , , | Learning | July 19, 2018

(My sixteen-year-old daughter is taking drivers’ education at her school. The first part takes place in the classroom, followed by practical experience driving a car. Parents are allowed to attend the classroom part if they wish.)

Instructor: “Now, the law for drinking and driving for new drivers is very strict. It’s a zero-tolerance policy.”

(The mother of one of the kids raises her hand.)

Mother: “What does that mean?”

Instructor: “That means that your kids won’t be allowed to have any alcohol if they’re going to be driving within a certain timeframe.”

Mother: “I don’t get it.”

Instructor: “It’s actually very simple. If your kid will be driving within [number of hours], they can’t have any alcohol.”


Instructor: “None.”

Mother: “But let’s say that my son is at a party, and he’s going to be there for an hour; it’s okay if he has just one beer, right?”

Instructor: *stares at her* “No.”

Mother:No? But it’s just one beer!”

Instructor: *starting to lose patience* “No alcohol. Period.”

Mother: “But—”

Instructor: “NO. ALCOHOL.”

Mother: “…”

(Her son looked mortified.)

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A Cycle (P)ride

, , , , , | Related | May 14, 2018

(My brother and I take a two-day motorcycle course over the summer. It is a state-certified program meant to teach the practical skills needed to ride in a safe environment. My brother has always been protective, but in the strange older-brother kind of way. He says that it’s okay if I drop the bike or fall over; that people will only laugh a little. This happens when we are taking a break the second day. I am heading one way, and my brother the opposite way.)

Instructor: “Uh, [My Name]? Your brother isn’t moving.”

(I look, and sure enough he’s tripped over a small, hanging chain and is lying on his back on the ground.)

Me: “You okay?” *he nods* “You need a hand?” *he shakes his head* “You just want to lay there for a second?” *a nod* “How’s your pride?”

Brother: “Kind of hurts.”

(He managed to crack the visor on the helmet he was carrying, and scraped up his elbow. He was the only one all weekend to need any type of bandages. I stayed upright the whole time. He still hasn’t lived it down.)

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They Don’t Teach You THAT In Driver’s Ed

, , , , | Learning | December 11, 2017

After being tailgated twice in two days, I remembered a story my Driver’s Ed teacher told us:

When he was a teen and newly licensed driver, he had the loan of his dad’s car. Unfortunately for him, he either wasn’t paying attention or didn’t notice a short concrete post when he backed up, and he did some severe damage to the tail end. He drove around a bit thinking, “Oh, God… what am I going to tell my dad? He’s going to kill me.” Then he got an idea.

He was wearing his seatbelt and was traveling city streets, so wasn’t driving fast. He deliberately drove slower and waited until he got a tailgater. Then he slammed on the brakes, and the inevitable happened.

He got out shouting, “Look what you did to my dad’s car!”

The other guy got the ticket, had his insurance pay for the repairs, and probably got a raise in rates. And guess what? It was perfectly legal of my teacher.

It’s your responsibility to maintain a safe stopping distance… not the driver in front of you. A driver CAN bring a car to a stop for whatever reason.

Just keep that in mind next time you get the urge to get on someone’s tail on the road: he just might REALLY be asking for it.


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