“LOOK OUT”! the old man screamed with horror on his face. Both of his hands clutched the dashboard of the old Chevy, his knuckles turning white. The sweat poured down his balding head and into his elderly brown eyes. The car was coming straight towards them but managed miraculously to go around. The other driver screamed angrily, “you idiot”!
Through gritted teeth he told the middle aged woman behind the steering wheel to make a U turn. She obliged but almost ran into the wall doing it.
“Are you some kind of a nut?!, he yelled. Didn’t you see this was a one way street?”
“Of course, I did. I just forgot which way it meant!
The man put his face in his hands, and mumbled,
“Get out of the car, I’ll drive us home”, he said with a sigh.
“And by the way, you’ll need to get a new teacher, because I quit! I would like to see my grandchildren grow up!”
The third teacher, how many more would I go through? Yes reader, I was the nut, okay? Quit laughing at me. Let me tell you my side of the story before you get all judgmental…some people, good grief.
At the tender age of 50, was when I finally decided to learn to drive. Heretofore, I had simply been afraid. I know most normal people get their driver’s license in their teens, I simply didn’t. But I was tired of asking for rides, and wanted the freedom I denied myself for so long, and I would get over the fear. I had to. I approached my husband on the subject. He looked at me with a blank expression (or one of fear, I couldn’t tell which) with his beautiful blue eyes. His mouth was slightly agape, as the words caught in his throat. He swallowed hard and said, “Hon, why now?” I explained it to him, as he quietly mumbled, “Oh, well that makes sense…I guess.” But why after so long, I think it’s a bad idea. I’ve always made sure you got where you wanted to go.
“Right, I said with my anger riddled face” I’ve depended on you my whole life, if not you, someone else, darn it Joe, I’m tired of it!”
He sighed, than said,
“Look, I’ll teach you how to drive, but I’m not thrilled about it.”
I looked at him curiously than smugly asked him, “And just why is that?” Don’t you trust me?”
“In a word: no. Obviously, something was scaring you or you would have done this long ago. Why now, when we’re getting older, I don’t know if my heart can take it!”
I said to him gently, “And that’s the exact reason I need to learn now. It’s horrible to think about, but what if you’re no longer here? Than whom do I depend on?”
He looked at the ceiling and threw his hands in the air. “Okay, okay, I get it”, he sighed.
We went to the DMV the next day to get my learner’s permit. Piece of cake. Okay, ready to roll! We got in the old beat up Chevy that we’d had for 15 years. The paint was scratched and there were dings here and there, but it ran and purred like a kitten.
This driving thing was a lot more difficult than I anticipated. Good grief, sometimes I swore I was in New York. I was given the finger a few times, and called a few names. People aren’t nice when they drive. Okay, okay, I rode a guy’s bumper, but just a little, the slow poke. I stopped at a green light, I got nervous and jumpy, that’s when that ugly finger showed itself. There must have been something wrong with the car, because it went smoothly than stopped and kept doing that. I asked Joe, “What’s wrong with the car?” He looked at me a bit fed up and said, “You are. Let’s go home, pull over to the curb.” I did as directed and he said with annoyance, no next to the curb, not on the damn thing!” I looked at him, tears through my eyes, “You don’t have to yell or curse at me”. He shot back sarcastically, “The way you drive, it’s the least I could do!”
Joe quit teaching me that day and turned the lessons over to one of his students. He said he’d pay him for it. The student was ecstatic. “No sweat, Mr. P!” The young 18 year old thought, “Wow, what an easy way to turn a few bucks, teaching some old lady to drive, how hard could that be. “
When we went to a small area of old Yuma, he found out how hard it could be. The roads were very narrow, and turning around was difficult. I ran over a curb, than promptly knocked down a stop sign. That’s when the young man knew, “Man, this ain’t no peace of cake after all!” She’s crazy. We went back home, my husband paid the young man. He said, “Thank you, Mr. P, but I can’t do this again, finals are coming up, have to study.” Finals weren’t for three months.
At the beginning of the story I was driving with an elderly man. He just happened to be a retired DMV instructor. My husband hired him, and thought he’d be perfect. He was, I wasn’t. And after the “One Way Street” incident, let’s just say, the cab company is going to love me.
MARY E LACEY