Watching my son take the test for his learners permit this past week brought back some funny memories for me of my dad teaching me to drive. Dad and I had a great relationship, but we clashed in the way that we did things. We were very much alike and we both had our ways of doing things. But, if it wasn’t done my father’s way – it wasn’t done correctly… according to Dad anyway. In any case, a few recollections come to mind when I remember those scary days of learning to drive. Exactly who was more frightened, me or my dad, I’m not really sure.
While teaching me to drive, Dad took me to a large empty parking lot in the Marina Del Rey area which was not too far from our home. I had pretty much mastered the art of driving forward by this point. Dad wanted to teach me to drive and steer going backwards. My friend Susan was with us for this particular driving lesson. I was driving, Dad in the passenger seat and Susan sitting behind my dad. Dad explained how to turn the wheel while driving backwards – but it was a little challenging for me. I felt all “turned around” – no pun intended. He was getting a little frustrated with me, so Susan decided to “help me out”. While I was looking backward to see where I was going Susan had her hands in her lap, but she would point in the direction that I should be turning the wheel. That happened a couple of times before my Dad said, “I can see you Susan. Stop telling her which way to turn the wheel.” To this day neither of us knows exactly how he knew. But, that was my Dad… eyes in the back of his head.
Across the street from that same parking lot Dad wanted to teach me to Parallel Park. I was so nervous and I was really bad at getting the car “just so”. Lots of going forward and backing up was going on. The cars that I was practicing between were Mercedes, and Jaguars, and BMW’s. Needless to say, one by one, people were coming out and moving their cars. Hmm… not a great way to give me much confidence. I still think of that parking lesson every time I parallel park - and to be honest, I still doubt my abilities in that area. Oh well, a couple more years of therapy and I should be just fine! Tee hee hee.
All in all Dad was a great driving instructor. He gave me wonderful and useful advice. His voice has come back to me a few times in my life during rather terrifying driving moments. His words have helped me avoid disaster. I hope that JJ will benefit from both Richard’s and my driving knowledge the way I benefited from my Dad’s. If he does, I guess in a way my Dad will be teaching him to drive too and imparting some of that vast and experienced driving ability.