my little slice of heaven

my little slice of heaven
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Slings And Arrows Of The Drivers' Test

I grew up in a (once) very rural area of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. The Bucks County of my youth was not one of strip malls, mcmansions and bypass expressways, it was one of corn fields, horse farms, and charming old fieldstone farmhouses. By the time I'd turned 16,  I'd been driving tractors, pickup trucks and the pumpkin yellow Volvo wagon usually captained by my mother, for nearly four years. Driving on everything from muddy farm trails and the quarter mile driveway at the family farm to the occasional mid-night jaunt around the block(ahh, youthful hijinx).
The trip to the State Police barracks in Dublin to take the drivers test, probably about two weeks after getting my permit, was really only giving the imprimatur of the State to something I'd been doing as virtually second nature for years.
My children, having spent their lives in suburban Philadelphia, have had a different relationship with motor vehicles. There was neither the opportunity nor the inclination to learn to drive before the age of 16. In fact, some of their friends appear entirely uninterested in getting a drivers' license, perfectly content to hitch rides with friends or continue being chauffeured by their parents. Both scenarios are a little deplorable. There's always the friend with the car who ends up paying for gas and associated things like parking. And for parents, good Lord, haven't we driven them enough miles? It must be to the moon and back.
I just returned from the drivers' license test center with my younger son, who's logged the requisite 65 hours behind the wheel, and by all accounts seems to be a good driver. Both he and his older brother took classes and lessons through Street Safe Driving School most of whose teachers are off-duty or retired policeman. Both kids have taken an accident avoidance driving seminar through Street Safe, and my older son has received an insurance discount now that he's licensed. As we waited in line at the test center, we watched as the 3 or 4 student drivers ahead of us failed, one after another. As our turn came, the officer administering the exam said to me, in an aside, that he'd much rather be sleeping in this morning.
As we drove home, my son(riding shotgun) was fuming at the indignity of having failed such a simple test. I tried to remain philosophical...maybe another week or two of practice?

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