Friday, August 30, 2013

Driving me CRAZY!!


So, you have to be toted around by your mom.  Ouch. Can you say, lame? And please don't tell me that you go on a dates with your mom as a chaueffer.

I remember those days! Boy it's hard to be cool and tough when you can't drive.

Getting a license is like growing wings; it enables you to get up and go! Suddenly it is fun to just DRIVE! 

"Where?" you ask.
Who cares! Let's just hit the road...
Ah, those were the days! I remember saving for two years to buy my first car. My boss was selling his SPITFIRE convertible... and I had saved enough cashola to buy it!

I wanted that car SO BADLY!! But my parents said, "NO!"
In fact, they told me I had to give the two thousand and some dollars (that I had washed dishes for 2 years to save) to them so they could buy me a SAFE car...
Of course, this, is what they bought me - with my own hard earned money!
Oh the Humanity!
A Station wagon? What were my parents thinking?
Well, I'm a parent now,  and I know exactly what they were thinking, "Dear Lord that boy is going to kill himself in that Spitfire!"
Maybe they were right- I probably would have driven too fast and who knows...
But a station wagon? Come on!!
A year or so later I bought a cool old '79 Ford 150- one of the chefs where I worked financed it for me. He even rebuilt the carborator for me (He put a few pieces in up-side-down, but I didn't hold it against him!).
I painted a skull in sunglasses smoking a cigarette on each door with smoke trailing down the side of the truck and turning into a screaming ghost!
I painted a skull and cross bones on all 4 hubcap covers...
Yes, it was hideous!
Hideously beautiful, that is!
I even wrote that truck into my novel, THE RIFT RIDERS!
Man I miss that old truck!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roads? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

I got my driver's license in high school because it was something I was supposed to do, a rite of passage. For some kids, I suppose learning to drive, earning your license, and getting your first car represented freedom, but it didn't really mean all that much to me -- there was no way I could afford to buy a car any time soon. But all my friends were getting their licenses, it was what you did when you turned 16, and it was just another test I could study for and pass. (I totally aced the written exam, by the way, because I was a complete nerd.)

My mother didn't have a driver's license, despite several attempts to pass the road test, so we didn't even have a car to practice with, or someone to teach me, and no hope of affording a car for me even if I had a license. But she didn't want me to be in the same situation as an adult (besides, being able to drive might come in handy in a zombie apocalypse, if you can find gas), so she paid for expensive driving lessons -- money we really couldn't spare.

Driving was scary, and I didn't like it. Not only was I nervous because I was responsible for not killing people with the deadly missile I was steering, but I also had to trust that no one else on the road was going to cause an accident. I'm not a very trusting sort. Driving just seemed a little too unpredictable for my taste, but I got over (most of) my fears and slowly learned how to drive.

In all honesty, I probably shouldn't have passed my road test, but the woman with the clipboard was nice, the kind you never see in the movies. And I lucked out on the parallel parking portion of the exam; it had recently snowed, so it was hard to see how far from the curb I was, or if I was even lined up with it. (Too far, and not exactly.) Good enough for government work, as they say.

So I got my license, but I had no car to drive, and I promptly went to college in New York City, where having a car is more of a burden than a benefit. I ended up living in the city for another 15 years, not driving. And anyway, even if I had access to a car, I prefer taking mass transit whenever possible, which lets me read or nap or play video games and is seemingly safer than being on the highway with other people who potentially hadn't been behind the wheel of a car since they got their license. My few attempts to drive in the past decade did not go well. (Don't worry, the only casualty was my pride.)

But here I am, living in a more suburban area of Philadelphia where a car is more necessary, but I still don't feel comfortable behind the wheel -- and I'm starting to feel kind of embarrassed about that. So I've been practicing a bit when I can, and I'm planning to take an adult driver refresher course so my license to drive doesn't become a license to kill. But for the moment, as it has been for many years, that little plastic card is just a handy form of government-issued identification.

I know plenty of people my age who don't have a driver's license, or are in the process of learning to drive, so I wonder just how important it really is to most teens. I bet it depends on where you live and whether you have the luxury of learning how to drive and owning a car. Is this rite of passage really as universal as it appears in movies and television, or are many people happy with bicycles, trains, and buses? (Strangely enough, I also didn't have a bike as a kid and didn't learn to ride until my 20s. And I can't quite swim. Really, how have I gotten by for all this time?)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Theme: License to Drive

By Julie Cross

This month, the amazing teamTEENauthor members are telling stories relating to our constitutional right to operate motor vehicles, which may vary considerably depending on the home country of the author. I'm a US resident and lived in Illinois at the time I reached driving eligible age and here it's 16. Though I turned 17 before I was able to complete my driver's ed course requirements and own a vehicle that the DMV was willing to get inside and go for a ride in.

Okay, so I'm journeying back in time....all the way back to 1997 when I got my drivers license. I had purchased (with my own money from nearly 2 years of working) a 1986 Oldsmobile for a whopping $2000. After scoring a perfect score on my road test and receiving my license, which, let me tell you, is an amazing feeling, I said goodbye to my nice friend who had driven my car to the test and I was on the road alone for the first time in my life.

Realizing I only had a quarter of a tank of gas, I pulled into the gas station and it was already dark because December in Illinois means darkness at 4:30pm. I felt like a rock star, pumping my own gas, going inside to pay, and then pulling out of the station. Well, the lights over the gas station were so bright that I forgot it was dark and turned onto a busy road will my headlines off. I literally drove about fifty feet before seeing blue and red lights flashing in my rear view mirror.

So yeah. Less than two miles into my first solo journey as a licensed driver and I was getting pulled over by a cop. My hands were shaking, I fumbled around for proof of insurance, then he knocked on the window and said, "Did you know your headlights are off and it's illegal to drive in the dark without headlights...blah, blah, blah..."

I remember slapping a palm to my face and then switching the lights on. Of course that didn't stop him from asking for my proof of insurance and license. He looked at the driver's license and then at me and said, "You just got this today?"

And I was like, "Yeah, like thirty minutes ago."

He gave me this look that said, "I can already tell you're going to be in for a lot of tickets in the future." But luckily he didn't give me a ticket, just handed back my license and told me to keep my lights on.

That's my story and I don't think I ever told my mom or any of my friends because I was so humiliated, knowing that I'd nearly gotten a ticket within an hour of exercising my right to operate a motor vehicle.

Anyone else got a good license to drive story to share in the comments section?