CAUTION: Grandma behind the wheel

Soumya Kurnool

Talk about a disastrous first attempt at driving. Luckily for me, I didn’t have Yoshi as my driving instructor, did not fly off a speedbumb into a stop sign, and did not paralyze a diminutive policeman with my crazy driving. And luckily, my dad did not have to call AAA… Photo illustration by Shuyi Qi.

 

You know you live a sad life when you have to wait in the Bus Circle until 5 p.m. for your parents to pick you up while all your friends simply zip off in their own cars to go home, to Chipotle and everywhere else it is that teens go. You also know you have a sad life when you don’t know squat about being behind the wheel (Is the accelerator on the right or left?) and when the only motor skill you have mastered is honking.

But then you realize that you are going to be screwed if you go to college and don’t know how to drive. Just imagine! You would be the worst sort of reject ever… Everyone else would drive off, leaving you behind in the dust to trudge off to the library or back to the dorm.

In order to avoid that hypothetical scenario and save my dignity in the future, I have decided that learning how to drive was an imperative. Even though there isn’t really any point in me getting a permit now, you should expect me to be cruising along McClellan like a hotshot the instant I turn 18.

My driving resume
Let us refer to my brother. Without batting an eyelid he will tell you that no matter how many times I try, I keep falling off that cursed looping Rainbow Road in MarioKart. I always end up in 6th place or worse, although sometimes by a fluke, I’ll get into first place with the help of good ol’ Bullet Bill. I think in all, I’ve raced so badly that my favorite character to drive with, Yoshi, is ready to disown me.

But I do have hope that I will be able to manage decently well behind the wheel. Back in the day when Gameboy Advances were the thing, I beat a game before my brother did (one of the proudest moments of my life!), called Digimon Racing. Basically, you had to go around in a dinky go-cart and shoot bad guys and beat “Bosses” to go to the next level. And I always came in first; suavely shooting fireballs at this weird looking blue Digimon whose name I forgot, while neatly making a left turn on a sandy beach.

Let us hope that I drive like a Digimon rather than a Yoshi.

Three weeks ago in a parking lot far, far away….
I struggled to turn the car on. I slipped the key into the ignition and then found I couldn’t turn the stupid key to start the car. After a minute or two of fumbling with the key, my dad leaned over and started the car for me with exasperation.

After my dad had given me a lengthy spiel on the rules of the road, it came time for me to meet the gas pedal.

Three thoughts ran through my mind:
1.  Who am I kidding? If I can’t even start a car, how the heck am I going to be able to drive one?
2. Of all the possible cars to learn to drive in, why in the world am I in an SUV?
3. Please, please, please don’t let this parking lot turn into a Rainbow Road.

I very, very slowly (or so I thought) applied my foot to the accelerator. The car lurched forward, and I thanked my lucky stars that seat belts were invented. Breathing hard, I also realized how glad I was not categorized as an “adrenaline junkie” on the Enneagram personality test that we took in AP Lit.

The look on my dad’s face told me that my practice driving lesson would not last much longer, especially not in our Acura MDX. I knew he was doing mental math in his head, trying to figure out how much it would cost him if I ended up adding a dent to his car.

“Maybe you should spend a little more time on that DriversEd course,” he suggested.

Slapping my head, I couldn’t help wondering how fifteen-and-a-half-year-olds cruised the streets of Cupertino with such ease. As for me, I believe it will be a while before I’ll meet the gear shift (especially reverse…), but that’s okay—this grandma has got some fight in her left. After all, slow and steady wins the race, right?

Also, is it just me, or can you hear a high pitched dinosaurian laugh?

Shut up, Yoshi.