What drives you?


By Les Linz

Driving is nothing new.

God drove Adam out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple (John 2:15).

I drove my gym teachers nuts but gave them a break when I took driver’s education in high school (a little more recently than 33 A.D). It was a cool class.

For one thing, we were required to watch a movie called “Signal 30.” It probably didn’t win any Oscars, though if it did, the speeches would go something like, “I’d like to thank so and so for not wearing her seat belt so she could turn into the great human torch,” and so on.

“Signal 30” was (and possibly still is) the Ohio State Police’s code for a serious accident and was supposedly filmed as authorities responded. Complimentary bags and buckets were the order of the day when “Signal” was shown. To see it now, visit youtube.com/watch?v=dn5h-ksO63M.

Another part of the class was, BTW (not “by the way” — by the way — rather “behind the wheel”). It was every freshman’s dream, and I was no exception.

When you took driver’s ed, you didn’t have to take gym that semester, which was a tremendous respite for me and others. Additionally, you got to drive neat cars — some of them luxury models, as the dealership-donors looked to the students’ parents buying them a new car that they were already familiar with upon passing the course (Didn’t happen to me, but then I was thrilled to drive a used ‘71 Chevelle Malibu 305 cc eight cylinder. Thanks, mom and dad).

Driving instruction fell to the coaches. Apparently, the school felt they didn’t have too much to do “just coaching,” so they taught the students’ favorite subject, as well.

I was blessed.

Coach Rose (baseball — not Pete — though he did look and talk like him) was great, but even better than him was gymnastics coach Campbell.

Coach C was a no-nonsense guy you couldn’t help but fall in love with. He was your friend, teacher, disciplinarian and clergyman all rolled into one.

I remember one special day in particular.

Earl asked me to turn right onto the upcoming block. I activated my right turn signal at the proper distance and heard the engine race, though I wasn’t going anywhere. Coach had utilized his brake. I gave him one of those “Dumb looks are still free” looks, and he repeated himself.

“Turn right at this next block here.”

“OK, “ I said, a little annoyed, drawing out “OK” into several syllables to show my growing contempt.

Again, the racing engine.

This time, he repeated his request in an outwardly angry manner.

“Come on,” he said. “I told you, turn right at the upcoming block.”

I’d had it.

“I will,” I said, “if you’d take your stupid foot off the gosh-darn brake.”

“You mean to tell me,” he said, in a more peaceful, instructional tone, “that we’ve sat here five minutes waiting for you to tell me you can’t turn there because you’d be going the wrong way down a one-way street?”

Shrinking Violet and I had something in common.

“Oops,” I said, sheepishly.

Though it has been nearly 50 years, I never forgot that, and in what is likely over a million miles driven since then, I nearly went the wrong way down a one-way street only two more times. That’s how good a teacher he was.

Unfortunately for me and the rest of you, there are way too many people out there who t did not have either of those coaches as instructors. If they did, they would still be stuck at that one-way street.

For nearly four years, I had a driving job that typically saw me on the road between 250 and 400 miles a day. I saw a lot in that time. I saw many that did not see me.

When I was a sophomore in high school, texting did not exist, though of course, neither did cellphones.

It’s stunning to see the dramatic in and out of lane swerve accomplished by those thinking themselves “deft,” rather than deaf to what the authorities tell us. Letting your fingers do the walking is not good when you want your legs to still be able to do the same. Think “Signal 30.”

And then there are the turn signal scofflaws.

Your car has tiny directional lamps that activate at the flip of a finger to indicate where you are going, folks. Use them. If I knew which way you were turning without their deployment, I would have already won the lottery by great mind-reading ability (hint: I’m still in the lowest income tax bracket).

And speaking of turning, have you ever noticed how angry some people positioned behind you get when you have the unmitigated gall to turn left somewhere — and gasp — wait for oncoming traffic to clear before doing so?

Assuming you’ve already given the proper distance before signaling, you can’t help but notice the unnecessarily livid person in your rear-view mirror, which is shouting at some unnamed deity because he didn’t arrange the schedule of the person ahead of them differently, that the angry one wouldn’t be inconvenienced by an extra second or two of prudent driving.

Additionally, those that haven’t secured my favor include the “make-up artists” that put on their wares while actively behind the wheel. They don’t improve their appearance in doing so (on second thought, maybe they do), and instead, wind up looking like the Wild Man of Borneo. Sorry, Wild Man.

And watch out for those construction zone abutments. They turn regular cars into the bumper variety. You don’t have to audition for the next “Jackass” movie, just keep your eyes open and your speed down.

While we’re on the subject of “down,” there’s downtown and its angled parking, where you have to crane your neck to avoid an accident, though there is a plus side to it — you help keep the chiropractors busy that way.

Finally, there’s busy you. You want to at least go the speed limit (and usually faster) when you absolutely positively have to get where you’re going on time. First, there’s that person waiting prudently for oncoming traffic to pass as the left turn is made. Then there’s all the slow people someone carelessly radio-dispatched to go before you. Take a breath. Calm down. At least you’re not Signal 30.

Les Linz of Seymour writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his amazon.com author page. Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display