Adventures in Home-Based Driver’s Ed Pt.1

When I was growing up the general mentality was survival of the fittest. Lawn darts rocketed at you, riding in the back of a pick-up truck with the tailgate down, kicked out of the house and told to “go outside and play and do not come back till dinner”, a playground made of strictly: gravel, metal, and cement with equipment geared specifically to throw the children off, being made to eat liver, being left in the car at the store with the motor running and doors unlocked, mothers using honey on pacifiers…it was brutal stuff.

So, I actually made it to my early teens. We moved out-of-town to a log home in the middle of the woods, out this mile-long dirt road that resembled a dry deeply rutted river bed in places, behind hundreds of acres of apple orchards. My step dad decides the best way to handle me catching the school bus was for him to bring home Junker cars from the junk yard.

And so begins this mini adventure:

Car #1

My step dad said there would be a car waiting for me after school.

Stepping off the school bus I find a small (smart car sized) white Honda Civic…cute, and a stick?

So, after walking home, the “driving a stick” lessons began. I took to it quickly and was soon “flying up the road” – so the orchard owner reported it to my step dad anyway…he even said he saw “gravel shooting 60 ft. in the air” as I rounded the corners at the packing house with the little hatch back swinging out wide to the left and right fishtailing the curves…I tried to dispute it when my step dad said I needed to slow down, but the spark in my eye and smile gave me away.

My goal every night was to get home, out and away from the car, before the cloud of road dirt caught up with me. I usually made it too! One night that I made it, I came back out to the car to get my books and found my step dad kneeled down by the passenger side back tire. He was holding his ball cap and scratching his head with one hand – as he’d do on occasions when I gave him a dome-scratcher of a thinker to ponder.

“Didn’t you feel this?” he asked up at me. Looking down I saw this metal circular disc…what was left of the shredded tire sort of flopped off onto the ground at that point as if exasperated. “Road was just as bumpy as normal!” I replied.

it is still a mystery what ate the tire between the end of the driveway and home, but my personal hypothesis on this is: if driving fast enough, three of the wheels will make-up for/hold the car up compensating for the fourth wheel that seems to be missing in action (disappeared/deflated/gotten eaten up by something).

For sure this is not something they taught in high school driver’s ed.

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