Student Driver.

Source: Cafe Press

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.”

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9 Comments

  1. BarbaraM

    Wow – psychic intercept. Kristine Lasco just posted a blog on Medium about her learning how to drive a car.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s funny how these coincidences happen. As long as they don’t collide, anyway.

      Reply
      1. BarbaraM

        Don’t know where the ‘s’ came from – just for clarity, I meant Kristine Laco.

        Reply
  2. markbialczak

    Drivers Ed was an anxious spin at the wheel for me back in my high school days on Long Island, Chris. I still recall how I’d flinch when the teacher would instruct me to pull onto entrance ramp for the always crowded Long Island Expressway.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Mark, you’ve made me feel lucky to have had Driver’s Ed here in Nashville. Even the interstates here must seem tranquil compared to the kind of traffic the Long Island Expressway gets.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    I got my license at 17, and I was considered ancient. I wasn’t, but that’s how we played in my hometown. I wasn’t a good driver until I hit my mid-late 20s. I didn’t learn to parallel park until I moved here. It’s a progression.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Driving is definitely one of those activities where we’re all lifelong learners. Congratulations on learning to parallel park. I think I did that once at Radnor Lake and it took me about twenty minutes.

      Reply
  4. ANN J KOPLOW

    I’m the only one in my household who drives, Chris. I’m wondering if my 24-year-old son Aaron will have trouble finding somebody to teach him and I doubt that my husband Michael will ever drive (although he does have his license). For now, I’m definitely in the driver’s seat.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      With the popularity of Uber and other ride services I wonder if the number of drivers overall is declining and, given the rise in gas prices, Aaron may be smart to have decided not to drive. I think–and even hope–we’re moving away from cars as a primary means of transportation, but that’s a big issue and another story.

      Reply

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