Saturday, 26 July 2014

Not a Car Guy


I am not a car guy!
I am not a car guy!
I am not a car guy!

In case I am not being clear, I am not a car guy. I was very hesitant about getting my license in the first place, but my dad convinced me that I should take the test. Okay, he ordered me to take the test. Before the order came a few reasoned arguments for having a license, and to be truthful I used some of the same arguments on my son, but I didn’t end up ordering him to get his license. I let the realities of life make the argument for me. Calgary is not a transit friendly city no matter what the transit commissioner says.

During my test, I had to check that the seats and mirrors were adjusted properly, back up out of the parking space, pull out of the parking lot and merge with traffic and make a right turn. The first test ended right there. I knew I had failed when the guy doing the test screamed and grabbed the wheel out of my hand. In retrospect, having a near head on collision in the first three minutes of the drivers test didn’t bode well for any future driving. The screaming was rather unprofessional, I would imagine he had all sorts of near death experiences on a daily basis. He told me to circle the block and head back to the parking lot.

It wasn’t a failure I told my dad, it was a spectacular failure! Some people just aren’t meant to ride herd on 2000 pounds of metal careening down the road at 60 MPH while thousands of other terrible drivers are doing the same thing. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing I had done in my life. I had jumped off of a cliff, smoked a joint in full view of the police station, rode my bike along the top of a rotten fence, outran a speeding train, hopped trains just like a hobo, and stolen apples from the yard of a really mean guy and threw eggs at the door of the “witches” house on Halloween.

I have to hand it to dad though, he was nothing if not determined that I should have my license. I guess he wanted to know that if he had a heart attack and mom was too worried to drive and Steve didn’t want to for some reason, I would be the fall back guy. I told him that I would just call an ambulance. I couldn’t have lifted him into the car anyways. He took me out driving again and again and again, until I had mastered all aspects of the controlled death that driving is.

We went back to the same place to do the test. Since I had passed the written test less than three months earlier, I just had to do the road test. While I was waiting my turn, I could swear that the guy who did the first road test was peeking out from the back room and was repeatedly making the sign of the cross. Eventually another guy came out and the test went pretty well (no near death experiences) until the parallel parking. Even I knew it was terrible. This guy passed me! I guess they just didn’t want to ever see me again.

I can’t say that dad was proud of me that day, but he wasn’t ashamed of me which is about all I could ask for back then. I went happily back to walking, riding my bike and taking the transit, dad must have been happy that in an emergency I could drive him to the hospital. Well, he was happy until I accidentally wrote the car off on a snowy winter’s night.


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