Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Driving me crazy

People sometimes give me strange looks when I tell them I only have my beginner's license. "You're how old?" I explain that my parents always said they'd never teach my brothers and I (father too impatient, mother hates driving) and that if we wanted to learn we had to pay for it. On top of that, from the age of 16 onwars I always lived in a city that had decent public transit (Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa).

But my husband and I have been trying to expand our little family of two for some time. I figure it would be rather practical to be able to drive on my own with a future little one without Andrew having to be in the car with me. (As a beginning driver, I must have someone in the car with me at all times who has a full licence and at least 4 years of driving experience.) So I signed up for Driver's Ed with one of the cheaper organizations in the city. Well, you get what you pay for.

In my four days of in-class sessions, I learned the following things:
  • the teacher once lost his teaching license for two years for too many speeding tickets
  • if you take a Canadian penny and slip it in between the treads of a tire, Queen's head down, and you can see her crown, your tires need to be replaced
  • the teacher "practically invented road rage"
  • a pair of pantyhose can temporarily replace your serpentine belt
  • the teacher got thrown into alcoholic detox at the age of 15
  • parallel parking is "the easiest thing in the world"
  • the teacher once made his daughter pay $400 to fix a dent he put in his bumper because she didn't notice it when she borrowed his car (always do a circle check!)
  • a car has four blind spots
  • the teacher has had four heart attacks
  • older people don't check, or aren't aware of, their blind spots
  • the teacher once had mescalin put in his beer without his knowledge and it took him seven hours to get home
  • if your tires squeal during your driving test, you fail
  • the teacher currently has 3 demerits on his license; one more and he loses his teaching license permanently

As you can tell, I don't feel I learned a whole lot about driving during class. Also, the teacher is rather fond of cursing, which I can only hope is a scheme to grab the attention of sleeping teenagers, but which feel is actually his personality coming through.

On the plus side, my in-car instructor is very different. He is very talky. Rather more professional than the class teacher. I've had my first lesson already, and he said at the end that I'm a very calm and confident driver (good thing he didn't see me nitpick at everyone else's bad habits), but that he's going to hammer at my weak spots (checking my blind spots, among other things) until I hate him. I won't hate him, but I may strongly dislike him.

Overall, I think my first lesson went well. We stopped only once to go over the rules of a yield sign - specifically, DO NOT STOP UNLESS YOU HAVE TO (or you fail the test) - and he only touched his brakes twice. It's a little disconcerting to have the brake pedal disappear under your foot while you're driving. I think the best part is that the car (I'm hoping it'll be the same one) is a Sunfire, practically the same car as our Cavalier, so I don't need to fiddle about looking for various signals and things.

I have to find my Rules of the Road book. I need to finish my homework before my last lesson. My first homework in ten years. It's odd.