Have you ever tried putting your life in someone elseâ€™s hands?
Iâ€™m not talking about undergoing some major surgery or visiting the dentist (just kidding Dr. Kelly, although I think you know how I fear our every-six-month visits!) Iâ€™m talking about sitting in the passenger seat of a motor vehicle and trusting a teenager to drive you and your second-most-expensive possession safely down Oxford Street.
I did that the other day â€” me, the one who rarely trusts anyone else to drive me anywhere.
All it took was niece Jessie looking at me with her big blue eyes and asking, â€œJulie, can I drive your car?â€
â€œUm, well, um, gee,â€ were the eloquent words running through my mind, but my mouth said, â€œalrightâ€ a little too quickly.
It isnâ€™t like Jessie had never driven a vehicle before. Shoot, I think sheâ€™s been driving the old Dodge farm truck around the back pasture since she was 12 â€” maybe younger.
Still, a field driveway and a four-lane highway are completely different!
We had two destinations before heading out to the farm â€” the grocery store and the Daily Globe office â€” and Jessie drove us safely to both. I was actually starting to get comfortable.
Thatâ€™s when I asked her if sheâ€™d practiced parallel parking. I thought the practice poles were still up in front of Memorial Auditorium, but it was obvious when we drove to the destination that I hadnâ€™t been passed there in months â€” or at least since they started building the new addition.
The new construction looks great, but the poles were nowhere to be found. I could hear Jessie breathe a huge sigh of relief. Maybe it was for the best.
She turned the corner and was finding her way toward the lake when I asked if sheâ€™d driven around Lake Okabena yet.
â€œNo,â€ she said.
â€œDo you want to?â€ I asked. â€œItâ€™s a nice drive except for that area where you have water on both sides of the road.â€
Wait a minute. Did I just say that?
Yes, and it immediately brought the response I realized I wanted from Jessie: â€œNo!â€
As it turns out, she was terrified just driving over Hawkinson Bridge the night before. Certainly, she wasnâ€™t ready to drive between two bodies of water without guardrails.
I canâ€™t help but wonder if Mr. Schimbeno, my driverâ€™s ed teacher, ever had us drive around the lake. I honestly canâ€™t remember â€” that was about 25 years ago.
The thing I do remember about our behind-the-wheel training was meeting a semi for the first time on a two-lane road and thinking, â€œWeâ€™re gonna die!â€
Well, I might have muttered those same words when my classmate took her turn behind the wheel and I had to sit in the back seat. The only reassurance I had that we would make it safely back to school was that second braking system under Schimâ€™s foot!