Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bad Driving

(This is a transcript of a story that I told for my storytelling class this past summer)


This was how I felt as I walked out the doors of the DMV on that hot July day. You see, I was 16 years old and I had just gotten my driver's license. And, not only had I gotten my driver's license, I had absolutely owned the tests that I had to take--100% on both of them! Now, I hadn't been too worried about the written test... the written test was supposed to be pretty easy with simple, common sense, "what do you do at a stop sign? You STOP" kinds of questions.

No, I'd been worrying about the drive test. I'd heard horror stories from my friends, some of whom had failed the test because they messed up on parallel parking or backing around a corner, and then they had to wait two weeks before they could take the test again, and some even failed a second time! Parallel parking, backing around corners--THESE were the things that had tripped up my friends, THESE were the things that haunted my nightmares and THESE were the things that I ultimately aced in order to score 100 on the test.

So, I was feeling pretty smug as I left the DMV. The first thing that I did was call my dad to tell him the good news. I'll never forget what he told me. He said "Nate, you know that driving is a big responsibility. Just because you did well on the tests doesn't mean that you can stop being careful out on the road. Driving is a privilege, so take it seriously."

I remember thinking "PSSSHHH! I don't need to be careful! I got 100%! I am INVINCIBLE! UNBEATABLE! I... write the rules of the road... I am God's gift to drivers everywhere!"

If you'd known me at this time, you might've wanted to smack the arrogant smirk off of my face. Well, rest assured that the wind was taken out of my sails in an embarrassing way just a few months later.

I grew up in the town of Lynden. 10,000 people, small town... you don't expect surprises on the road in Lynden.

I'd just finished visiting my Grandma's house, and was backing out of her driveway. I thought to myself, "I don't really need to check my rearview mirror, or look behind my shoulder as I back out. I'm God's gift to drivers! I'm INVINCIBLE! UNBEATABLE!" So, I gunned the gas pedal--VRROOOOMMM!!! Then all of a sudden CRASH!!! CRUNCH!!!

I didn't want to look behind me. I didn't, but I knew I had to. Slowly I turned my head and... my trunk, which should've been flat and below my eye level was mangled, twisted, barely recognizable, sticking off at a grotesque angle. I recited the alphabet of swear words that I knew in a fortissimo shout.

I got out of my car to see what I'd hit... I had hit a BULLDOZER. A MOVING BULLDOZER. I hadn't even seen it coming. Frantically, I ran around to the front of the bulldozer to get the driver's attention. I waved him down, and not even joking, this is what I said to him:

"Hey! Umm... I think I hit your bulldozer!"

He looked at me, looked at my car, back at me.

"Yeah, you did", he chuckled.

He stepped down from the driver's seat, went around to the back corner of his bulldozer, and ran his hand along the part that I'd hit.

"Not even a scratch on ol' Bessy here," he said cheerily, "But you sure did a number on your trunk! I think it's totaled!"

I was still nervous, still stammering, still shaking.

"What d-does that m-mean for me?"

"Well, we don't have to exchange insurance information--that's the good news. But, you better get that thing in for a damage appraisal because it might not be worth fixing!"

And with that, he got back onto the bulldozer and rode off into the sunset.

Now came the part that I'd been dreading: I'd have to call my dad. What could I possibly tell him to make this more palatable? What could I say that would make me sound like less of an idiot? My mind was racing as I dialed his number.


"Hi Dad... umm... sooo uh... I was in Lynden and I visited Grandma... she's good... and umm... the craziest thing... I uh... backed my car into a bulldozer."


"N-no no no! It was the.... uh... the BRAKES! Yes, the brakes. I saw the bulldozer and I pushed the brakes but they didn't work. It was the brakes!"

"I'm glad you're okay. I'll come into town to pick you up, and we'll call a tow truck to take the car away. Hopefully it's reparable. We should also get the brakes checked out. That's good that you noticed they were acting up now. It could've been dangerous to find that out later."

"Uhh yeah... yeah, thanks... I'm sure we'll find out that those brakes are really.... messed... up."

Now, you know as well as I do that there was nothing wrong with the brakes, that I was just making excuses and trying to blame anything but myself.

So in the end, I'd totaled my car. I'd lost my parents' trust when they discovered the brakes were fine. And, I'd learned a very important lesson:

I was not INVINCIBLE or UNBEATABLE out on the road. Do you know what is?

A bulldozer.

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