A few things went through my mind when I pulled up to this car.
First, it’s a Saturn. Saturn stopped making cars in 2010. So I’ll bet this car was about fifteen years old. I think it takes faith to keep taking it out on the road. Although, on the plus side, if the student is still a beginner, a few dents and dings won’t bother anyone.
Second, there is probably a student driver at the wheel. It definitely takes faith to ride alongside first-time drivers day after day. If you don’t have gray hair yet, you will very soon.
Finally, I flashed back to my own driver’s ed experience in high school. I turned sixteen in 1973 and took the class that fall. All I remember from the class was a slide show with gruesome pictures of cars wrapped around telephone poles and the mangled bodies inside of them. The main message: wear your seat belt.
But to complete the class and get a discount on insurance, you had to drive with an instructor in a car equipped with a brake on the passenger side. If things got hairy, the teacher could hit the brake and avoid whatever was in front of the car.
I didn’t get to be in the car until the following summer. By then, I had driven the family car and thought I knew what I was doing. I think I went out three times with an instructor. At the end of the last session, I was winding through some suburban Philadelphia neighborhoods when the teacher slammed on the brake from his side and brought the car to a stop.
I asked, “What did I do wrong?”
He replied, “Oh, nothing. My mom lives here and I just wanted to stop in and say hello.” Thanks for the heads up. By the time he came back out, my heart had stopped pounding and we drove back to the school.
A few weeks later, I asked my mom if I could take my license test. She wasn’t optimistic but took me to the state police station where you took your test on a closed course with a smokey bear hat-wearing state trooper. Intimidating? Absolutely. I thought I blew it when I had to back up our big Ford Falcon station wagon a second time to complete the three point turn. Much to my mom’s surprise, I passed and got my license that day.
Thirty years later taught my own children to drive. Yes, it takes a lot of faith. On the plus side, you also learn a lot about prayer!