When I was 15 years old I got my driver’s permit. The rule in Indiana was (is?) you could get your permit when you were 15 if you were enrolled in a driver’s education class. I enrolled in the class and got my permit. My parents had let me drive a small amount–parking lots, country roads, but I really didn’t have any experience before my first driving lesson.
To complete the class, I had to have 6 hours of driving time with an instructor. We had to schedule these sessions and they usually included other students. It snowed on the day of my very first driving lesson (It was December in Northwest Indiana so the odds of snow were good). The instructor picked me up and informed me that we had to go pick up another student. “We’ll just shoot down I65,” he explained. “Um…see…I’ve never really driven before…” I stammered. “Oh, you’ll be fine!” he exclaimed! “But, I mean, I’ve never actually driven on I65,” I tried again. Turns out he was a bit of a smart alec. “See, Becky, what we’re doing here is teaching you how to drive. You’re about to learn how to drive on I65.”
So away we went. I was shaky and probably went slower than the minimum speed limit, but we made it to get the other kid and I finished my first driving lesson and my driving partner took over and dropped me off at my house (and then had back onto 61st Avenue, so I guess he got a good trial by fire kind of lesson, too!). I eventually took my five other driving lessons. In lesson 5, my instructor taught me how to flip off drivers who make me mad–a skill I don’t actually use, in case you were wondering.
Jonas asked me the other day about taking my driving test. “How many times did you have to take it?” He asked. “I only had to take it once,” I replied. Oh, I remember how nervous I was for both parts of the test–written and driving. Don’t tell my examiner, but I never actually perfected that parallel parking thing. The important thing is that I was able to fake it well enough to pass on June 18, 1994.
That makes me feel really old. I’ve been driving for nearly half of my life! It’s amazing how second nature it is to me. Getting on and off an interstate is easy. Parking a giant church van is (usually) a piece of cake. Snow, ice, rain, fog–I’ve driven in all of them many times successfully. Only a few accidents behind me and none of them actually my fault. My last ticket was 10 years ago.
I think my slightly profane driving instructor would be proud.