While my high school classmates were busy taking driver ed, I was busy lamenting the fact that my parents had one car. Because my father was a minister, that car would seldom be available once I learned to drive. And since my mother was a stay-at-home mom and I didn’t have a job, either, the prospects of paying for the extra insurance were nil. So why bother to learn to drive?
I might explain that I was a lot more timid in those days than I am now and was afraid of doing something really dumb if I took driver ed. Unlike many of my classmates, I had never been behind the wheel of a car. Not while it was moving, anyhow.
Flash forward. To 1968. I realized I couldn’t spend my whole life bumming rides off of other people. Especially the girls I wanted to impress.
One of my English instructors at Frostburg State, Alan Stone, wanted to learn to play guitar. He had a brand-new Ford Falcon, but he was willing to take a chance and swap driving lessons for guitar lessons.
His car had a standard transmission. That sounded like fun. Until I realized that I couldn’t drive anywhere in western Maryland without going up and down hills. And discovered how many of those hills had traffic lights at the top. Lights I always seemed to have to stop for.
Learning to keep from rolling backwards–why did the person behind me always have to stop so close?–kept me alert and constantly nervous.
No mishaps, though. But there was the time I made a bad turn and needed to back up. I overshot where I was supposed to stop by a number of yards. Yes, people were watching, and did they evermore give me the funniest looks.
I failed the test the first time, and I was scheduled to work in a different state that summer after graduation. There wasn’t time to take the test again before I left. So getting my license had to go on hold.
But things got complicated once I obtained a teaching position on the other side of Maryland. I was really going to have to get my license.
I brushed up a little on my driving when I got home, but the local DMV wasn’t giving the test every day, and I needed to leave for Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But I learned I could take the test at any DMV office. So, on the drive to the Eastern Shore, my parents took me to the DMV office in a city that was on the way–one that we knew would be testing that day.
I passed! But I was still car-less.
What? You want to know what I did about that? Sorry, but this post is only about getting my license. Hmm. Maybe I’ll give you the rest of the story another day.
What about you? What were your experiences learning to drive? Please leave a comment and share.
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“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.