My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Safe Driving

It’s kind of strange that my son is driving now, legally, as he got his driver’s license in December. The first couple of times he went somewhere on his own, it was both comforting and scary. Comforting because we didn’t have to take him and then go pick him up, but scary because neither my wife nor I were with him. I know that doesn’t seem logical, because it’s not. That’s what happens when your teenage children start driving. It’s not him I'm worried about; it’s all the other crazy drivers out there. So when he came home we were relieved, although we didn’t show it. Even though we’d been looking at the clock every few minutes, when he came through the door we gave him a nonchalant “Oh, you’re back already?”

My son is a very good driver and it’s not like he’s been going far. He went to one of his bandmate’s house for practice, to the school, and of course, he ran some errands. This is one of those happy occurrences when you’re teenager gets their driver’s license. One day he wanted some ice cream, so my wife told him if he wanted it, he had to go get it. We paid for it, but we didn’t have to leave the house. He was happy to get his ice cream and we were happy to not have to drive to the store.

Both my wife and I started our driving careers running errands, too. If I wanted to use the car, there was usually an errand I had to do for my parents.  A quick trip to the supermarket for some milk or bread was definitely worth it in order to be able to use the car for the evening. It didn’t matter that our car was kind of old and tired, it was transportation. It meant that I wasn’t going to just be hanging out at my house or one of my friends’ house, we were going to be out and about. Sometimes it even meant I was out on a date! That was infinitely better than being home.

Other than my one run in with the cops when I was trying to get home on time, I wasn’t a crazy driver. As a matter of fact, my friend Tony used to tell me I drove like an old lady. I used to get pretty ticked off about that, because I was a pretty good driver. No accidents, no police chases and no tickets. So if not taking crazy chances in my parents’ car and driving only slightly above the speed limit means I drove like an old lady, then I guess I drove like an old lady. However, this was coming from a guy who had his own car and who never saw a speed limit he obeyed, and who thought yellow lights meant stomp on the gas before it turns red and you have to stop.

There was one time we were cruising around and I really thought we were going to die. We were coming out of a side street onto the main road through town and, as usual, Tony didn’t want to wait. However, there were long lines of traffic coming both ways and the lane we were sitting in was led by a huge tractor trailer truck. Sitting in the death seat, I looked to the left and saw the truck was not slowing down, then looked to the right and saw no break in the traffic and no one slowing down to let us in. I did this a few times, the truck getting closer and closer, bearing down on us and blowing its air horn, and I thought, This is it. We’re going to die! I closed my eyes and braced myself for impact, waiting for the sounds of screeching tires and metal smashing into metal. Then I heard…nothing.

I opened my eyes and we were driving along, the car and our lives intact. I looked at Tony, and he laughed at me and asked me if I was okay, or if perhaps I needed to go change my pants. The answer was no to both of them. To this day I don’t know how we made it out of that one without a scratch. I never did feel totally comfortable driving with him after that, even though I never got in an accident riding with him.

As my son starts his driving career, I hope he drives like an old lady just like I did. He can take his time running our errands and going to his friends. Eventually, we’ll stop looking at the clock and thinking he’s been gone for a long time. All I care about is that he makes it home safely.

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