Get out and let me drive

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Cool Stuff just for you

Way back in my freshman year of high school a note was circulated around offering Driver’s Education after school.  I can’t remember how much it cost, but it was a decent price.  We had to get on a list, fill out some paperwork, make a deposit and then wait till they had room in the class.  In the art and science building was the simulator room where we spent the first couple weeks of class.  They had these state of the art driving simulators that were pretty cheesy for our standards now a days.  A big screen was in front of us and we had to pretend to drive and hit the brake when old ladies walked across the screen. 














It was in this room that we learned the basics of driving.  This was supposed to help us before we got behind the wheel of the school provided, Mr. Johnson’s drivers ed car.  His car had a big sign on it that said “Warning Student Driver” I think it even had wood paneling on the side.   I look back now and wonder why Mr. Johnson wasn’t a drinking man.  He taught the majority of my friends and peers how to drive.  No one should have to do that job for a living.  Running into him, not literally, years later I thought he should have the nickname “Nerves of Steel” 


The simulator room was fun, like a big video game, but it was much different driving in the real world.  I can’t exactly remember my first drive, but I do remember being scared out of my mind and fearing for my life when my friend Monica got behind the wheel.  There were three of us that were partners in a driving group and I am still amazed that we survived those days.  I remember many curbs being jumped and telephone poles that we barely escaped.  Thank God for Mr. Johnson’s brake pedal on the passenger side. 



To really learn well we were asked to get permission from our parents to practice in our family vehicles.  So upon receiving this information I let my mom and dad know.  Mom just kind of stared at me and shook her head.  Dad on the other hand was coming home from work about the time I got out of drivers ed.  So he would pick me up from the school in his little datsun pickup and  let me drive through the little town of Hoquiam WA. 


We would stop at Safeway on Tuesdays and Thursdays, buy a Cragmont root beer for 17cents and he would let me drive home, eight miles out the East Hoqiam Road.  The only problem that we faced right off the bat is that the pickup was a stick shift.  So I had to learn how to use the clutch.  It wasn’t too hard to drive home that way, for some reason it was pretty much downhill or flat all the way.  It wasn’t until the day I wanted to drive to band practice and dad had us take the Toyota Celica that all Hell broke loose.  You see I had become pretty cocky driving home all those days.  As any experienced driver knows, all cars are different, and being that we jumped in the little sports car with the sun roof and cool stereo I was feeling my oats. 


















My dad warned me to take it easy that the clutch in this car was so much different than the pickup.  I didn’t listen.  Only a few feet from our house was the Johnson’s hill as we called it.  And as I began to climb the hill I shifted up to high and the car stalled in the middle of the hill.  I panicked and we started rolling backwards as I plunged my foot down on the clutch.  My dad’s eyes bugged out and I watched as my normally quiet good natured father freaked out.  I thought for sure we were going to crash into the cow field that surrounded the road or worse, perhaps a car would come up from behind on the road and we would smash into it. It never occurred to me to put my foot on the brake.  So many things were going on at the same time I couldn’t focus.  It was then that my dad, even though he was rather upset, pulled the center emergency brake.  The car screeched to a halt in the middle of the hill.  He opened his door, proceeded to walk around the car and demanded that I get out.  I hadn’t seen him like that before and quickly did as he asked getting in the passenger seat.  He proceeded to start the car, release the emergency brake and squeal the tires as we accelerated up the hill and towards town.  All I heard for a few moments were things like “You will never drive again…”  I didn’t dare talk back at this point, I was just thankful for my dad’s wisdom in driving and that he got us moving again.  Of course, it was only a few days later that he let me drive again, but I will never forget how to start a car on a hill.


 I share all this to make a couple of points.  One, my daughter turned fifteen yesterday and will be getting her driver’s permit tomorrow.  With the boys I didn’t worry too much, but something about my little girl driving a big metal torpedo disturbs me.  Call me crazy, but I don’t know how to feel about it.  I have mixed emotions.  I understand now why my mom and dad took it so seriously when I learned to drive.  They knew that not ony would I be responsible for other people’s lives, but it meant a new freedom for me.  I’m glad they let me go, but now I finally understand how they felt.  This is my baby here.  She is the last kid to leave the nest, not only my little girl, but my last child to drive away from the house on her own.  I just have to grow up and live with it.  Even though I don’t want to let go, I must. 


It is a bittersweet thing to watch your kids grow up and begin to do adult things.  On one hand I am thrilled for her, as I remember what I felt like when I passed my driver’s test and got to take the car out for the first time alone.  And on the other hand I know all the crazy things I did when I was on my own.  Then I sigh and have to ask God to protect her as he has my other kids.  You know, they do listen and they do watch us.  They do learn and if we have done it right, they become responsible drivers.  It’s the other folks we have to watch out for.  LOL. 


The second point I have been learning from all this is how God must feel about us.  He is so forgiving and compassionate, much like my dad was to me.  Here he creates us, we grow up and start to feel cocky, like we know it all, and many times we stall in life.  It is at these points if we shut up and let God into the driver’s seat that he rescues us from being stranded in  the middle of life, that we actually get on with the journey and learn a thing or two about driving.  It is when we refuse to let him drive that we go nowhere in life. Just something to ponder.


May we all let Jesus show us how to drive. 


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