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A Blonde’s Perspective: Drivers training didn’t end in high school

I’m feeling old again. My oldest grandchild is 15 and has his drivers’ permit. It seems like Jordan was just a baby a few years ago! … sigh

I remember when my three children took drivers’ training from a private driving school that charged over $100 each. Looking back over 50 years ago, taking behind-the-wheel driving lessons were offered through the school district and they were free!

My biology teacher was the driving instructor and the school’s green station wagon with fake wood side panels to resemble a “woodie,” was used for the student drivers. My training was held in the summer. Recalling one hot day, the instructor turned the heat on high. He and my friend, who was in the back seat, laughed as I drove around the horseshoe-shaped streets in Babbitt with hot air blowing in my face.

I didn’t get my drivers license until I was in my mid-20s. I lived in the cities and always used the metro bus or taxi to get around or caught a ride with friends, but I did renew my permit regularly as it was my official ID.

I finally took my driving test as my husband and I were moving to Rockford, a city located west of Minneapolis. I worked in downtown Minneapolis so I was forced to take the test if I wanted to get to work. Except for parallel parking, I did pass the test.

For the next 20-plus years, I would never parallel park. I’d drive around a block several times to find a space unless there were two open spaces together, or if there was a space on the corner as then I could drive into that space without backing up and turning the wheel this way and that way.

Well, that came to an end in the mid-90s when I was busy selling advertising for my own publication. I didn’t have the time, nor did I want the stress of trying to find a space, so I finally conquered my nemesis!

So proud of my accomplishment, I purposely stopped to see a friend to share my news. “Faith, guess what I did?” She looked at me as if I had won the lottery perhaps, but it wasn’t that exciting. The look on her face may have been asking if I saved someone’s life, but it wasn’t quite that heroic either.

With pride I announced, “I parallel parked my car!” Her mouth opened slightly, probably not knowing what to say, but then a large smile crossed her face and she gave me a big hug and said, “Oh, Jan! I’m so proud of you!”

Since that time, it’s not so stressful to park. But if there’s enough space for the Prius, I can still drive right into it rather than backing up.

Speaking of the Prius, it has the capability to parallel park itself with the “Simple Advanced Parking Guidance System.” We’ve had the hybrid car for two years and haven’t used the SAPGS once. Referring to the 800-page manual, 85 pages explains how to use the system … yes, 800 pages! The guidance system automatically operates the steering wheel to enter the space and aids in exiting as well. There are sensors around the car that alerts us when we are too close to other cars or objects. I, the aging blonde, am not going to sit and read the lengthy instructions. I need hands on. Just show me how it works! My husband Ron and I, have talked about learning how to use it by finding a not so busy street where we can practice, but it’s been only talk.

Once we do it, it will be just like taking drivers training once again — only we won’t be using red flags. Hopefully, I’ll past the test.

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