Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Student driver. Enough said.

The past few weeks I’ve seen STUDENT DRIVER plastered on the back of a minivan creeping down our street, and I think, “Oh, the joy of Driver’s Ed.” It’s then that I recall my own hilarious, temporarily traumatic experience, not behind the wheel, but as a passenger.
(Some names have been changed to protect the innocent…and the guilty.)

Our instructor, Mrs. P. was my coach and high school biology/art teacher. I signed up to drive with two friends who were also my neighbors west of town. We’ll call them “Jess” and “Tara.”
Mrs. P. picked me up first, so I got to drive country roads to get the other two student drivers. I then took everyone into town so we could stop and fill up the car before heading out on the highway.
After that, Mrs. P. told Jess it was her turn to drive, and her reaction was, “Oh boy,” followed by a nervous giggle.
She put the car in reverse to back out of the parking spot, turned the wheels straight and hit the gas pedal. As we zoomed backwards down Main Street, a thought crossed my mind: “We might actually die today.”
Mrs. P. slammed down on her brake pedal and yelled, “What are you doing?”
We had heard about a friend earlier in the class who had high centered the car on a concrete parking block when she failed to throw the car in reverse before attempting to back out. Equally not a smart thing to do, but a lot safer than our next several hours would prove to be.
As we traveled south out of town, Jess was bobbing her head and tapping her fingers on the steering wheel to the music. But soon, Tara and I could see her getting tense and looking in her rear view mirror a lot.
“Oh my god, oh my god. Get off my butt, stupid truck,” she repeatedly mumbled.
Well, there was a lot of traffic that day, so the two trucks following us couldn’t exactly get on their way very quickly, but when they did, our car quickly moved to the right shoulder as Jess freaked out.
Then there was Omaha. Tara had been driving throughout the city, and Mrs. P. asked Jess to drive out of town.
As Tara returned to the backseat with me and Jess was still making her way around the car, Mrs. P. said, “We’re going to the interstate. Don’t you say a word.”
Jess was doing pretty well until the traffic flow quickly increased and began whizzing by the car.
“Are we on the Interstate?” she asked. Tara and I giggled. Jess freaked out. But not as much as when she spotted you know what in the mirror.
AAAAHHH, TRUCK!” she cried.
Tara and I looked out the back window only to see a string of about 10 trucks gaining on us, and we couldn’t help but laugh.
“What’s so funny?” Jess asked, staring at us in the rear view mirror.
“Exit NOW,” Mrs. P. said firmly.
Somehow we all survived that day, and these new drivers will too. Here's to thousands of teens joining our streets and highways and the heartwarming view of a bumper-riding truck in their mirrors. *Cheers*

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