Late Bloomer on the Ride of Life
By Stephanie, age 16, Texas
I was not eager to drive at age fourteen.
I was not eager to drive at age fifteen.
My sixteenth birthday passed and I still didn't care about cars or licenses.
It wasn't until I was sixteen and a half when I realized that I was seriously behind the other teenagers.
And that's when I signed up for Safeway Driving.
At more than $400, I arrived in that class prepared to learn. I had my pen, my folder, my driver's manual, and my brain ready. The only problem? The class was a total bore.
My teachers were all retired high school teachers who were done teaching. They played videos made in the '80's, and I happened to sit right under the TV, which meant I had many days of pleasurable neck-stretching. It is safe to say that I fell asleep 15 out of the 16 days of "neck strength training."
When it came time for my actual in-car drives (I had seven of them to complete, two hours each), I was surprised at many things, one of which being:
Teacher: Get in the car.
I got in the car.
Teacher: Now drive.
Teacher: Didn't you parents teach you?
Me: No. That's why they paid for Safeway.
Teacher: Oh, that's weird. Most teens have driven before coming here.
I highly doubt I was the odd-ball out. There must have been more teenagers who didn't have their parents show them first.
Anyway, I passed all my tests and got my permit, which only took four hours of waiting in line to receive. The DPS in Texas is horrendous. A two second task takes these ladies 10 minutes to complete. Everyone hates them. Needless to say, I was happy and extremely proud of that permit once I got it. Four hours of standing in line, ladies and gentleman, and it wasn't even a Disney ride.
Today, I await my license. I'm not looking forward to the test (eep, parallel parking!) or to waiting (eep, there goes a whole day!), but I am looking forward to the freedom and the fun (and responsibility) that comes with driving. I've already learned not to flick people off or to chase other cars down the highway. I've learned that if someone wishes to cut me off, I should gladly abide (or risk getting hurt). When people let me into a lane, I should thank them. My dad has told me a thousand other unofficial rules, but those are the main ones that come to mind. I will happily do them all if it means I will be able to go get ice cream by myself.
I wasn't excited at fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen. Now, I'm almost seventeen and I am excited.
If you're a late-bloomer like me, don't worry. You have your whole life to drive. Your entire life's a ride.