Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Vroom Vroom

I am a Mitchell. A born driver. It’s in my blood. Dad had driven trucks and busses for years through college. He drove trucks for Coca-Cola and double decker tour buses in Victoria. When he went into teaching he used his skills to help those around him – he taught so many 16 year olds how to drive, he still does! He’s a wonderful teacher and a great driver…plus my Dad has patience. All three are equally important in teaching driving. When we were kids he would tell us what he was doing while driving and why – we understood the rules and flow of the road long before we ever got behind the wheel. We understood driving smarts – it’s been built into us from a young age.

Then I turned 16 – time to get my learners. Mom and Dad’s rule was that I had to pass science first (oh was that motivational and frustrating) – and then I became an “L” driver. Dad took me out to the fall fair grounds. He was a firm believer that no driver begin on the road, but in bare places where they can learn the feel of the vehicle. We practiced starting and stopping. He put out cones and we practiced turns and curves and parking. He had me learn to parallel park between two dumpsters so that minimal damage would be done if a problem arose (so smart). He would make you drive and then ask you to reach things from around the car so that you could practice the reality of driving – reaching for a wallet or keys or water bottle.

Finally we hit the road….slowly. I remember my first street driving experience was out in Beaver Creek after we dropped Mom off at a friends house. I was so terrified and it went fine, good even. At that point we were now the family chauffeur. Dad wanted us to get as much practice with him and mom around as possible. We would drive out of church each Sunday with me at the wheel, Dad shouting out the window to those around “pray for me!”. Without fail he would say that every time….Jenna or I driving.

Sometimes we drove my Dad's old Ford Tempo (pictured above) sticky brakes and gas pedal....but SOMETIMES we got to drive mom's new van - just a tap of the gas and you were off! It would take so long to get accustomed to the new vehicle after driving the old one and it would often happen that you would put your foot on the gas like you were in the Ford, and it would accelerate super fast since you were in the new van. FINALLY, finally a year into driving I learned to start in the van smoothly....

I was telling my Dad about this later, "Dad, Dad, I learned to drive without jerking off!" He stared at me and then started to laugh and laugh and laugh. Oops!

When it would snow Dad would load us up into the car, take us to the mall parking lot and make us practice driving in the snow. Not only was it pretty fun, it was soooo helpful to have that time learning. Especially with Dad’s calm, patience voice talking you through the snow skid.

As we were now “drivers” we watched Dad closely on longer trips when he drove. When Dad would drive he would constantly remind us to “do as he said, not as he did”. He would usually only say that when speeding (the classic Mitchell vice). He would ask us all the time – where should I go, what should I do? He engaged us with driving, even when it was his “turn” to drive. The positive of this is that we have learned to enjoy and engage in driving conversation, and it has made us critical thinkers. The negative is that it makes us backseat drivers – we don’t mean to be, but we grew up with all the passengers weighing in on the drive.

I am so thankful for how my Dad set us up to be great drivers – his teaching has saved us both from accidents that others might have not avoided. Driving back from Tofino in grade 12 there was a snow storm that sprung up and stranded many cars and drove a few off the highway. My car started to go off the road at one point, but using Dad’s tricks and tips I managed to get out of the skid just before the cliff egde (yikes) and continue on the highway. I got home safely and thankful not to be stranded in the wilderness in the snow without cell service.

This next story ends less well - same Tofino-Port Alberni highway, very different outcome. I'm 19 and driving to work at the Wickanninnish Inn in Tofino. All of a sudden a spider is dangling in front of me - I wish I could say it was huge, but honestly I'm not positive it was. I tried to roll down the window and shoo the spider out and in the process managed to jerk the wheel totally to the I'm facing the trees. That's bad. So I jerk the wheel to the left and now I'm parallel with the road on the dirt and realize I'm facing a telephone poll. So I jerk to the left one last time and slam on the brakes. I basically have end doing a bit of a U and stop just shy of the telephone poll. 

Obviously the car didn't quite drive the same after that. As you can see in the photo the car isn't in too bad of shape but it did manage to shift the suspension which needed fixing. It was a very embarrassing accident. But at least I managed to snag this shot. Ohhh my Ford Tempo.

That accident aside, it's been a good driving career. Today I still love to drive. Mitchells are drivers, it’s what we do. We care about driving – the art, the etiquette, the efficiency. Driving is an adventure for us – and we feel best in the drivers seat. We take pride in our ability to get from A to Z quickly, smoothly and most efficiently.....and we may try to tell you what to do if you're driving us. I apologize! Just tell me to stop it and we'll be fine.

1 comment:

PMorgan said...

I loved scrolling from happy Tara behind the wheel to the Wrecked car against a tree. It made me laugh!

And you still have the same great smile that makes me smile.


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