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GET ME OFF THE ROAD, PLEASE

By Mari Janecek


 I looked so forward to getting my driver's license at the age of sixteen, like all of my friends did. With only eight months left, I asked my friend Donny to show me how to drive.  I didn't know that I needed a permit to drive.

 My friend Donny at 17 drove a stick shift Chevy.  He drove me out into the country and got out of the driver's seat, opened the passenger side and helped me into the driver's seat.

 The main thing I knew about any car - how to turn on the radio.  If it hadn't a radio, I'd walk.  I also knew that you had to turn on the ignition, the position of the steering wheel, and the rearview mirror which I used to put on lipstick.

 I hadn't a clue of what I should do.  He told me to put it into first gear. "What's a gear?" I asked.

 Donny told me that his car had four gears and it would form the letter H when going through all gears.  I asked, "A small h or a capital H"?  Don said he didn't know.

 If Donny didn't know, how did he expect me to?  Then he told me that I had to push down the clutch when I shifted into a gear.  Located left of the gas pedal, my problem, there appeared two levers left of the gas pedal.  I took a stab and guessed the correct one.

 Driving down the country lane, I don't know how I wrecked the linkage, but Donny walked a couple of miles, leaving me all by myself out in the middle of nowhere, to call for a tow truck to come out and take his precious car in for repairs.

 I knew he'd come back at least for his car so I didn't worry much.  The autumn air smelled like dried pumpkins.  Sitting outside on his hood, I saw many geese flying south for the winter, wishing I could join them.  

 Donny never tried teaching me again how to drive; in fact I don't remember ever getting back into his car.

Four years later, my father tried to teach me.  He had a Nash car where the seats recline so you can sleep in your car instead of checking into a motel when tired of driving.  I should have reclined the seat and taken a nap.


 Dad shouted at me from the time I got into the driver's seat until five minutes later when he told me to get out of his car and walk home.  I only did what he told me to do.  His car had automatic shift, which he didn't tell me about, so I tried making a letter H with the shift, and he yelled the h word at me.   Why would people assume that I know anything about driving when they don't show me how?


 He told me to turn right and then shouted out turn left so confusing to a normal person, perplexing to an abnormal one like me.


 When I almost hit the big boulder by the passenger side where Dad sat, he grabbed the wheel shouting vulgar words that I thought only the neighborhood kids knew.  I told him that I was behind the wheel and how rude he acted by grabbing it out of my hands.