I was running an errand and saw a car go by with a student driver sticker. That reminded me that on several occasions in the parking garage at work—back when I was going in to the office—I’d often see, and sometimes park next to, a car with a sticker in the back window that said, “New Driver. Please be patient—we’re all just trying to survive!” I may have been taking a chance parking next to a car with such a warning but, hey, we were all learners once, and I was willing to take a chance that a new driver wouldn’t do much damage to a parked car.
I also got my own driver’s license pretty late in life in spite of taking driver’s ed and even doing some lessons with a professional instructor. Finding a driving instructor who was willing to take on an adult student was, surprisingly, not easy—most of them said, “Wait, you’re how old?” And even if they didn’t think I was kidding they told me I should have learned to drive when I was a kid. Finally I found a driving instructor who specializes in teaching non-U.S. residents. Nashville’s a pretty cosmopolitan city and the number of universities here attract scholars and other professionals from around the world, and even if they’re somewhat familiar with the basics of driving some still need help learning the rules of the road so they can get a license. People who come to Nashville from most parts of Europe and even parts of Asia are used to really good public transportation—something Nashville lacks. When the place where I work started offering free bus service to all employees I asked a coworker if she’d start riding the bus.
“Well, I would,” she said, “if I didn’t have to walk three miles and cross two interstates just to get to the nearest bus stop.”
Anyway seeing a student driver on the road also reminded me of one time when I was in a student driver car and someone came up behind me and started blowing their horn.
“Yeah, I remember my first beer,” I muttered.
“What did you say?” asked the instructor.
“I said I thought we might turn here.”
Then the honking car pulled up next to us and I looked over and saw it was a friend of mine. He looked shocked then he waved at me before he went on.
Later that day he dropped by my house and we laughed about our chance meeting on the road.
“I had no idea it was you in that car,” he told me.
“Lucky thing it was me,” I said. “Just imagine if you’d been honking and carrying on at some complete stranger who was just trying to get a grip on driving.” He looked a bit crestfallen but I couldn’t resist adding, “Then you would have looked like a real asshole.”