Jennifer Doering column: Put the pedal to the metal

  • Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012 2:30 p.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, December 21, 2012 2:46 p.m.

I noticed when my son turned 15-1/2 years-old, he suddenly developed problems with his usual ambulatory system (i.e., use of legs). He started asking me to drive him to his various activities and I knew in doing so, he was hinting to me that he wanted to receive his drivers learning permit. Somehow, our state granted teenagers permission to control a two-ton vehicle, aiming it at people and knowing full well it causes a terror unknown to parents.

When it was time for me to learn to drive, my mother drove me to the local cemetery. I guess she thought that since I would not be able to aim the car at any person and do them harm, it was a safe bet to start my driving education there.

I actually did quite well and I received my driver’s license with only one try – minus being able to parallel park, and to this day, I still cannot!

One day I picked up Brian from school and drove him to the local cemetery. I could see his eyes light up with delight because I had earlier told him the story of how I was taught to drive by my Mom. Since becoming a teenager, I believe this was one of the few days that my son was glad to be with me.

Actually, Brian did pretty well until he finally asked to be able to drive out onto the streets. I screeched out a horrified, “NO!” until he knew how to call the ambulance! For some reason, I knew that the passenger side brake would no longer work when Brian was out driving in traffic. I can’t tell you how many times I pushed on this imaginary brake in sheer terror and I was sure I would push it through the floorboard. Of course, being a boy, Brian wanted to drive fast, like he was fleeing a crime scene!

Additional news I learned from my son was that, Red means stop, Green means go, and Yellow means smash the pedal to the metal! Many years later, when I asked my four-year-old grandson, Gavin, what a Yellow light meant, he said, “Grammie, it means slow down.” Thankfully, at least for now, Gavin does not take after his Dad!

I instructed Brian that he had to use this little-known thing with his left hand called a turn signal (since moving to Salisbury, I think quite often that drivers here in town are minus their left hands)!

Once Brian drove out on the streets, I had new terrors to address, like another car coming from the opposite direction. I would tell Brian to slow down and move way into his side of the lane and in so doing, he knocked over a garbage can.

I admonished Brian for doing so and he countered with, “What business do people have leaving their trash cans in the road?”

I had to mention that, ahem, it was “Trash Day.” In defeat, I told Brian to put the car back in gear and look out for remaining trash cans.

Luckily, the rest of that first trip went by uneventfully but once I got out of the car, I kissed the ground I walked on!

From then on, I decided it would be best to leave the driver’s training to the professionals, and Brian went on to take Driver’s Ed in school. Unfortunately, he passed his driving test on the first try and we sent him out on his own into the streets.

I’d like to say that Brian proved to be a good driver, but what I can say is we are so grateful we did NOT put him on OUR car insurance! I can’t tell you how many accidents Brian had as a teenager and how many cars he sent to their final demise. I apologize daily to the public that we sent our son out to drive as a teenager.

I’d like to say that today, at 39 years old, Brian is a better driver, but when we visit him and his wife, Joyce, along with our grandsons, we always have to follow his car because with car seats for Gavin and Cameron, we all can’t fit into one car. Don really has trouble keeping up with Brian and sometimes, all we see is a trail of smoke where his car should have been. Brian still lives by the “Pedal to the Medal” philosophy!

Jennifer Doering lives in Salisbury.

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