I couldn’t wait to drive. As a first born I was always ready to assume more adult roles. Familiar traits among firstborns are being reliable, conscientious, and structured. I love schedules and organization. Driver’s Ed was the perfect class for me. It was taught during the summer by one of our science teachers.
The earliest someone could sign up for Driver’s Education in my public school was fifteen. Now that I’m in my late 60’s, that seems terribly young to have the responsibility of driving a 2,500 pound vehicle, which in an instant can maimed or take a life, but in my teen years I was confident I could do most anything.
It was a six week summer class. We had classroom time with a workbook and lectures about traffic laws. It was excellent for preparing us for the written test we would be taking soon. Then the actual driving started. Three students were assigned to a car. In my car we had two girls and a boy.
The car had a sign on both sides that said student drivers, it should have had a flashing red light on top while the guy in our group was driving. We went from 0 to 50 in ten seconds, his first time behind the wheel. Fortunately we were still in the empty school parking lot when he made his driving debut. That was when I realized our teacher had a brake on his side of the car, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It gave us comfort to know we had a safety value in the car. He was bumped from first to last, being instructed to think about how serious he was about completing this course.
We would drive looking for stop signs, turning the blinker on when making a right or left turn, checking the rear view mirror from time to time, watching the mirrors outside the car and being instructed about blind spots. We also practiced backing out of driveways. We all dreaded the parallel parking, but it would be on the test, so we practiced.
After each student completed the above we would switch places and go through it all again. I did well, buy my teacher did say several times to speed up a little more. I took him at his word and misgauged the stop sign coming up when he had to use the brake on his side.
We had heard rumors that our particular teacher liked to challenge his students toward the end of the course. We would each be driving over the Rainbow Bridge. This bridge was famous in our area, it had been built in 1936, which meant it was now over thirty years old. The peak of the bridge was 680 feet. It had to be that high to allow huge ships to pass under her. The incline to the bridge felt like it went straight up.
Fortunately the day of our challenge was bright and sunny. I was the first for the challenge. As I took my seat behind the wheel, my hands were sweaty, I had to wipe them on my jeans. My heart was racing and my mouth felt like it was full of cotton. I begin to drive. It felt like we were going straight up. I forgot about checking the rear view mirror, I forgot to breath. It felt like we were on a roll coaster ride and I didn’t quite know when we would reach the top and start plummeting back down.
“You’re doing fine,” my instructor encouraged me. “Now when we reach the top, don’t ride the brake down, just let the car coast if you feel like you’re going too fast.”
As we reached the top the other students saw a huge ship approaching the bridge, they saw the marshes surrounding the area, and some beautiful birds flying in the distance. I know all this because they were talking while my grip on the steering wheel continued to get tighter. We started the descent, I did pick up a little speed, took my foot off the accelerator and made it to the bottom.
“Well done, ” my teacher said proudly, “Pull over to the right and park, who wants to go next?”
Isaiah 28:10, Line upon line, precept upon precept.