Thursday, October 22, 2009

Driving Miss Crazy

To make up for the lack of writing lately, we'll just make this a really, really looooong thing so you'll think that I've spent this entire time thinking of things to write, rather than just working at the new job, but I didn't have any "actual" time to commit anything to the page because of the new job.


Truthfully, I have been spending this entire time think of things to write, I just haven't had any "actual" time to commit anything to the page.  This page, I mean.  Web page.  Yeah.


The other truth is that what I have is not much more than a collection of fractured thoughts that I never expanded upon, because I haven't had the "actual" time to do that.


So, let us begin…Currently Most Pressing:  My daughter has finished driver's training (with the instructor) and now, it's all on me to let her drive for the next several months (and beyond), because it is my job to sit silently through a million mini-heart attacks and pretend I'm not FREAKING OUT during her Inexperienced Driver gaffs.




A little perspective, and, we may have already covered this, BUT, I grew up in Little Dot On The Prairie, North Dakota, population (at the time) around 300.  People.  There were, and continue to be, more cats than humans in that town.  In the spirit of small-town multi-tasking, my driving instructor was also my chemistry teacher, and, he was also the mayor at the time.  We drove the newly paved streets of Smallville (the pavement was something that Mayor Driving Instructor pushed for once in office—before he was elected, they were dirt roads…) where there were no city busses, no random bicyclists insisting that they have the right to reduce traffic speed to whatever their little legs could muster, and NOBODY sharing the road who didn't know your entire family, where you were going, and why.


Small.  Town.


I scraped through driver's training without killing anyone.  The first time I drove anywhere NEAR Minneapolis, or any city this size, I was returning to Fargo, ND from a Sting concert on Harriet Island, and my sister let me drive her 1974 Mustang hatch-back on I-94 from Monticello to around Alexandria.  I was probably 20 years old at the time, had no license, and was a terrible driver.  Terrible.  No question.  But she was tired and didn't want to drive.  She was wide-freaking-awake after that experience.


I finally got my license when I was no longer a student, got my first good job, and was a couple of signatures away from buying a brand new car.  Driving meant almost nothing to me.  I had friends with cars, and a bus schedule, and two good legs.  Who needs to drive?  But, I could afford a car, so, I figured I should buy one.  Besides, I didn't want to be a mooch for the rest of my life, and I was about to break up with my boyfriend (cheating so-and-so), who had been my most recent Drive Me Around guy.


I don't think I stopped being a questionable driver until I moved to Duluth in 1996 or '97 (all a blur, people), a full 15 years after I completed driver training.  It was the first town of significant size in which I had to regularly drive myself anywhere.  Before that, my friends happily indulged my non-driving ways.  Yes…I was coddled and enabled.  Duluth changed all of that because not only did I not know ANYBODY in that town when I moved there, but as some of us are aware, much of Duluth is built on the side of a steep hill, and, it gets weather.  I had to either figure it out or curl up in a ball on my living room floor and give up.  The latter was not an option.


I got to be a rather good driver, which is something I measure by whether or not other driver's want to pull me out of my car in the middle of the freeway and smack me til I bleed.  Not looking for any trouble, folks…not looking for any trouble…


From Duluth, I moved to Mobile, Alabama, which, by the way, is a fabulous city for driving—kinda reminds me of a bigger, older, and much hotter Fargo.  After Alabama, I returned to Minnesota, and here I am in Minneapolis, where my daughter assures me that she's not gonna crash my car, and that I worry too much…


…and I'm not sure what to think of that.  On the one hand, I want to tell myself that this is what car insurance is for.  On the other, I recognize how bad I used to suck at driving, and remain unconvinced that Minneapolis is a good place for someone to learn how to drive.  While I do recognize that "Trial By Fire" can be very effective, what I really want to do right now is take my child out to Monticello and have her drive to Alexandria.  And then maybe keep driving all the way to my parent's house on the Western Prairie, so she can delight in the bliss that is a no-traffic zone.  Just like her mom used to do.  Then, maybe, she'll get that Over-Correcting, Swerve Into The Other Lane On The Freeway thing out of her system.


This morning, while driving to school, my daughter was merging onto the crosstown, and some douche who didn't think she was merging fast enough, passed us on a single-lane on-ramp, on the right.  That is to say, they had two wheels off the road in their rush to get one car-length ahead of us, and they subsequently swerved in front of us, with maybe two feet of clearance between the two vehicles.  Dude….you suck.  And you scared the living crap out of both of us.


As inexperienced as my daughter is at driving, she is better at it than I was at her age—she has to be.  She learned here, and I learned on a long country road.  Big difference.  But she's still not a great driver, so, I'd like the other drivers to give her a bit of a break.  Also?  I'd like them to give ME a break.  I mean…I'm somebody's MOM, OK?  As much as I am worried about her screwing up and me not having a car to drive, I'm much MORE worried about somebody ELSE being a jerk and traumatizing my kid.  Aaaand of me not having a car to drive.  As such, I have created a new sign for the back of the car.  Instead of the traditional "student driver", it reads, "Student Driver/FREAKED OUT Parent.  DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE!."


What do you think?


  1. I had wished there was a sign for the car when my son was learning to drive. Really - they have them on the driver's ed car - why can't the parent's get one for theirs? It gives a little heads up.

    I like your sign so much better then my regular boring dreamed up one. Later this school year my daughter will be learning to drive. I just may put your sign up.

  2. Ta-Dah! YES! You CAN buy Student Driver Magnets for your for the back for $7.50, or a set of three for 20 bucks. Guess what I'm getting???

    And maybe I'll just leave them on all the time, so people stay the hell away from ME when I drive! hehehehe....

  3. Genius. Make one. Have it made. Whatever. Genius.

    And stay safe out there. Seriously some drivers are such pricks. I personally became a much calmer driver when my daughter took me out on the road the first time. (she has chosen a life as a non-driver, btw...)

  4. Riding with my's like a continuous breathing exercise. I would close my eyes if I could, and trust that she's going to get us there, but she actually doesn't know where to turn or what exit to take to get to school....which means she hasn't been paying attention all these mornings that I have driven her, which means she also hasn't paid attention to how I drive, so, should I trust that she's not going to wreck my car? LOL


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