My Brief Driving Career #socs

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I took Driver’s Ed in high school, because it was a required course. I did well in the Rules of the Road portion, but I had the misfortune of drawing possibly the worst driving instructor in history for my time behind the wheel. Illinois High School Association rules stated that all coaches had to be full-time teachers at the school, and Mr. G, who was the defensive line coach, had no college degree, so they made him a driving instructor. He had a quick temper and any small mistake behind the wheel led to him yelling and generally making me feel like pulling the car over, getting out and walking home. He convinced me that I had a depth perception problem and probably should never drive.

A few years later, I was a supervisor at a food plant, and one of my jobs was driving a forklift. I told the personnel manager about my experience with Mr. G and was ordered to see an optometrist to ensure that I wouldn’t drive a forklift off the loading dock. After giving me the test, my optometrist muttered something about idiot Driver’s Ed instructors and certified me safe to drive.

I still didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 28 and working a job in which I traveled heavily and had to rent cars. I was a reasonably good driver, and got lots of experience driving to and from client sites and out in search of food and entertainment In the evenings. Many trips between Atlanta and Chicago made me a confident motorist.

The last time I drove was the day that I had a stroke. From that point on, Mary has done all the driving. I was tested by a person who would re-certify me, and while I got through that, I was presented with a 5-page document telling me the modifications I had to make to our van, I decided it wasn’t worth it. One Sunday morning, I asked Mary if I could try driving the van. I was barely able to climb in on the driver’s side and couldn’t operate the gear shift. At that point, somewhat tearfully, I admitted I couldn’t do it, and that was that.

You know, I was friends with several defensive linemen in high school. I should have asked them to have a talk with their coach…

From their 1984 album Heartbeat City, The Cars with "Drive."

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Bert and Harry about Piels beer.

Young and Rubicam came up with this ad campaign, featuring "Bert" and "Harry" Piel, voiced by Bob and Ray (Bob voiced Harry, Ray voiced Bert).

33 thoughts on “My Brief Driving Career #socs

  1. Ah, the good old days where driver’s education was a requirement in high school. During the pandemic around here, no one was required to do actual driving classes or tests, it was up to the parents to decide if the child was good enough to pass. Those kids are out there driving now…! Scary. I’m glad you didn’t crash when you had your stroke. You’ve adjusted with grace over the years to accept your spouse’s driving skills. That’s a major accomplishment for some folks. My hubby sometimes attempts to put a hole through the floorboards when I drive 😉 I bet Mary is a great driver though. PS – great Cars tune too!

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    1. Now that Mary’s doing the driving, we rarely go more than 5 miles from home, and it’s all surface streets, so we don’t go more than 45 miles an hour. Not to say that’s the only reasons she does well, but those are contributing factors…

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  2. What an Ass! I had to take Driver’s Ed as well but my instructor was good and I think I was average but i never ran over a curb, sped (not with him in the car) or backed onto something. I wish we were more like Europe where the bus and trains are so well run that you can get just about anywhere. I got my license when I was 16 but my mom had to push me. We lived in the country so it was important to have one. It must have been tough when you no longer could drive and accommodating the car would be too costly.

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  3. That coach definitely should not have been a driving instructor. I taught both my kids to drive because my husband would not have had the patience. When I learned to drive, as a young adult, I had a professional instructor because my mother would not let me drive her car when I was a teenager.

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  4. I had fun in driver’s ed and have always loved to drive. My first car was a Plymouth Valiant with a push button gear shift. I called him “Prince.” I had a Gremlin that I called “Bullet” because it was sliver and then a red TR7 – can’t remember what I called that one. Just got a new Honda CRV, Aegean Blue, I’m thinking about a new name.

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  5. Idiot driving instructor is right. Sounds like a typical stereotype. The song you chose is an absolute favorite of mine which I used today too.

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  6. When I turned 16 and was forced to take driver’s ed, my dad had a fit because he thought it meant his insurance rates were going to go up again. (They were already sky high, because my three older siblings all had licenses, and my brothers had an unfortunate tendency to total the old man’s cars.) So I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to get my license as long as I was living with my parents. I would gladly have avoided driver’s ed altogether, but you couldn’t graduate unless you passed it. And just my luck, I ended up with the teacher from hell. Mr. B. hated me and I was terrified of him. At the end of the semester he gave me D, although he said I really deserved an F, and although it wreaked havoc with my GPA, I was so relieved to have it over with that I didn’t care.

    Five years later, my then-boyfriend (now my husband) taught me to drive, and I got my license. Turns out I’m a pretty good driver, or at least a very lucky one. I’ve been driving in Wisconsin for 44 years and I have never hit a deer, never gotten a speeding ticket, and never had an accident worse than a minor fender bender. Take that, Mr. B., you schmuck!

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  7. You probably knew I was going to bring this up, but could I have been the cause of some of your driving problems? After all, I was your first driving instructor, wasn’t I? – Volkswagen – Elk Grove Village – circa late 60s.

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  8. Wow, your driving instructor would have had me in tears. I was fortunate to have a kind and patient man and I still remember him very lightly karate chopping my right arm and suggesting I relax on our first time out. He took us out in all weather, even once when it had snowed, so that we would have confidence when on our own. Sorry that you can’t drive now, John, but I bet it’s also relaxing for you on any trips to be able to sit and enjoy the passing scenery.

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  9. I had my old 6th grade teacher as my instructor and he was a jokester, not the best for learning either, but no stress at least

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    1. The guy who taught me to drive as an adult was really laid-back, but it was almost like if you said hello to him, he’d be stuck for an answer. I had my license in a month, so he was really good.

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