Drive well, practice often, trust much

Have you ever tried putting your life in someone else’s hands?

I’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!) I’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 — 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, “Julie, can I drive your car?”

“Um, well, um, gee,” were the eloquent words running through my mind, but my mouth said, “alright” a little too quickly.

It isn’t like Jessie had never driven a vehicle before. Shoot, I think she’s been driving the old Dodge farm truck around the back pasture since she was 12 — maybe younger.

Still, a field driveway and a four-lane highway are completely different!

We had two destinations before heading out to the farm — the grocery store and the Daily Globe office — and Jessie drove us safely to both. I was actually starting to get comfortable.

That’s when I asked her if she’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 hadn’t been passed there in months — 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 she’d driven around Lake Okabena yet.

“No,” she said.

“Do you want to?” I asked. “It’s a nice drive except for that area where you have water on both sides of the road.”

Wait a minute. Did I just say that?

Yes, and it immediately brought the response I realized I wanted from Jessie: “No!”

As it turns out, she was terrified just driving over Hawkinson Bridge the night before. Certainly, she wasn’t ready to drive between two bodies of water without guardrails.

I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Schimbeno, my driver’s ed teacher, ever had us drive around the lake. I honestly can’t remember — 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, “We’re gonna die!”

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 Schim’s foot!

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