Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Teaching the Teachers

Okay, a bit older than our car, but you get the picture.
At some point during our junior year in high school, every student was required to take Driver's Education.
It wasn't an imposition.
Though most of us were farm/ranch kids and had been driving since we could see over the dashboard, none of us had ever been allowed to drive on a real road.
Okay, well, I have to admit here that some of us had.
Driven on a real road, I mean.
It's just that our parents didn't know.
Moving on . . .
So it was to be our first experience driving on a real road . . . officially.
The anticipation mounted as we completed every session of pre-driving training.
The lectures and films grew longer and more boring.
More and more, we craned our necks to glance outside at the shiny new car that would soon become ours.
We were getting feverish to actually take the wheel and floor the accelerator.
Finally the day came.
In groups of three, names were drawn.
And then it was my turn.
My time slot allotted.
My waiting at an end.
All right, yes, I still had to wait, but at least I knew just how long the wait would be.
Sheesh.
My group was scheduled to go out in a couple of days, after the end of the school day.
I counted the minutes.
And finally, it was our turn!
The other two students from my group slid into the back seat.
Our instructor, alias: my biology teacher, and I got into the front.
And that was when I discovered that this wasn't quite like any other car I had ever seen.
For one thing, it had two sets of foot pedals.
One on my side.
The other on his.
Weird.
We started out.
Slowly. Though every gram of me (and that was a lot of grams) was itching to stomp that gas pedal to the floor.
We made a circuit of the town.
So far so good.
I was instructed to head out of town along the highway.
Obediently, I followed my instructions.
All went well.
We made a safe (it can be done . . .) U-turn and headed back towards town.
As we were approaching the town limits sign with its stark and very pointed suggestion of speed, I turned to my instructor. "Does that mean we need to start slowing down when we get to the sign, or should we be going that speed when we reach . . .?"
I got no further.
My teacher decided, then and there, to teach me what the second set of floor pedals was for.
He stomped on the brake.
Whereupon (good word) I had a heart attack.
Fortunately, my varied experiences on the ranch had taught me that I could still function, even when my heart had permanently taken up residence somewhere in the vicinity of my throat.
But the lesson was well and truly taught. One must have already achieved the strongly suggested speed limit by the time one reached the sign.
Point taken.
After a few tense seconds of hands-over-the-face whimpering by both I and my teacher, we were once more off.
The rest of my turn passed without further incident.
Which was probably a good thing for my heart.
And my passengers.
We stopped back at the school and one of my team members exchanged seats with me.
I could officially relax.
For some time, we drove around the town.
Then, as we were following the dirt road north, on the far east side of town, our Social Studies teacher approached and flagged us down.
He did this is a subtle, yet clever way.
He drove past, honking, then pulled over to the right directly in front of us.
Our young driver squeaked out, "What do I do?"
Whereupon (that word again) our instructor told her to pull over directly behind the other car and put our car into 'park'.
Done.
She sighed and leaned back against the seat.
The four of us watched our social teacher walk around to our instructor's window.
The window was rolled down and the two began to visit.
Meanwhile, our driver was looking forward.
Towards the other car.
Which appeared to be getting . . . closer.
She stomped on the brake and quickly discovered that it wasn't we who were moving.
Ah! The other car was rolling backwards.
Toward us.
Our driver began to shriek, "Ooh! Ooh! What do I do?! Should I back up?!"
Both teachers looked up.
Just as the 'parked' car collided with us.
Shock warred with embarrassment on both faces.
It was quickly ascertained (another good word) that no damage had been done, either to property or personnel.
And everyone went back to what they were doing before our social teacher had entered the picture.
We completed our training.
Receiving full credit and accolades.
And all of us received our driver's licenses.
It really wasn't that difficult.
Look at the guys who taught us.

16 comments:

  1. As funny as this is, I have to admit that we live in a very different time. These days those teachers would probably be sued by the parents of the kids in the cars. Sad but true.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am reading this. In public. And laughing. This would never have happened in my native NYC. Maybe that’s another reason why it’s so funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing, isn't it, how similar we are in so many ways. And how different in others!

      Delete
  3. Adults have two purposes: to show us what to do, and to show us what not to do. They were just doing their job :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great story! My husband grew up in the boonies on a small ranch and had his first car at age 11! He and his brothers drove with their left hand out the window to look cool, especially on curves. He will automatically assume this position on curves now going over mountain passes in traffic until I remind him to have 2 hands on the wheel please this is not 1968!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sigh. Driver's Ed used to be so down to earth.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. How many times have I said that to my students: Don't do what I do! Yikes!

      Delete
  7. Driver education wasn't part of our schooling. A mistake. And one at least of my classmates died in a car crash before we finished school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How very sad! We had a few accidents, even with the training. But no deaths.

      Delete
  8. We don't have Driver's Ed, not back then and not now. Shame on our government. Anyway, I do think it might have been kinder to your heart if the teacher had simply said "slow down you need to be at that speed when you reach the sign". He's lucky you didn't all get whiplash.

    ReplyDelete

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