In high school, I ignored driving.
I got my driving permit when I was 15, just like everybody else, but then pretty much ignored the whole thing. I had other stuff to do. I would stay at school and finish my homework every day in the library, often being the last person to leave the building. I had church stuff to do; youth group to attend, choir practice, quilting group, homeless shelters to cook in, knitting group, youth team meetings, fundraisers to plan; I had stuff to do.
Besides, I never felt the need. I never got excited about driving. Why drive yourself when you can take the bus? I’m a pro at taking the bus. It’s just so easy. Besides, you can knit on the road. You can watch life go by and talk to people. You don’t have to wear a seat-belt.
I don’t want to be a loser 23 year old that still gets driven around by her parents. So when Mr. Moseley offered to teach me, I said “Sure!”
I still can’t decide if it was the right thing to do, or if I have a secret death wish.
Let me tell you about Mr. Moseley.
Take an impulsive, 12 year old boy with major ADD. Now make him an old guy with a truck and
a gun lots of guns. I have no idea how many he has. His truck is plastered with stickers from the National Rifle Association, et cetera, and in his living room closet he has a collection of raccoon skins. Not only do they make good cat toys, but they’re also great for warding off mouthy vegetarian friends that his daughter unwisely brings home. Mr. Moseley likes to teach people lessons. Perhaps that’s why he wanted to teach me. I have heard that as a substitute teacher one day, he decided to teach an obnoxious teenage boy to pay attention to the lesson. How? By throwing a brick at him.
What I don’t get is where the brick came from. It was the science room, but still . . .
Maybe it was just a rock.
He’s a good cook, but an even better practical joker. At his children’s school potluck, he signed up to make meat sauce for the pasta. Everybody went crazy over that sauce . . . until he cheerfully mentioned his secret ingredient: raccoon. Bom bom BWOM! Yeah. They were still pretty crazy over that sauce, but not in the same way.
With Mr. Moseley, you either love him or you hate him. It’s hard to be neutral about Mr. Moseley. Personally, I love him. It’ll probably be the death of me, but I really do. He’s hilarious.
The aforementioned truck, which I am learning to drive on, is a beat-up 1970s Ford. Floor gear shift. 4 speeds. “Learn to drive this thing,” he says as he hands me the keys, “and you can drive anything you want.”
I believe it.
“Now the first thing you need to know about driving,” he says as we hurtle down a hill backwards, Sofia at the wheel, “is that you don’t hit anything bigger than you; in this case,” he leans over the seat and points out a substantially bigger-than-us brick wall, “That. Brake now.”
The thing I like about Mr. Moseley teaching me is that he never freaks out. The one or two times I went out driving with my mother, it was not so.
“Sofia. Slow down. You’re going 15 miles an hour. Ahh!”
When I went clear up over the curb and annihilated an unfortunate juniper bush, leaving broken twigs and branches in my wake, he just laughed and said that it could be Sofia’s bush now. When I crashed into a fence today and curious apartment-dwellers came out to watch the fun, he didn’t care. He calmly told me what to do and how to back up. When we got stuck in a mud hole and the wheels were spinning and burning rubber, he simply told me to rock with the clutch until we got out of it. The only way I can tell that he’s actually nervous is that he starts whistling serenely.
“Why don’t you follow that little blue car up that hill?” he says after a while of driving around in the parking lot.
“But that goes to a main arterial. I’m not ready for that,” say I, looking over at him.
“It’s okay; there’s a drive-way that we can turn around in and come right back down.”
I should have known. I should have known. Why did I trust him? I. Should. Have. Known. Better.
“There’s no driveway here, Mr. Moseley! How am I going to turn around? Oh my gosh! No! No way! ARE YOU CRAZY? WE’RE GONNA GET KILLED!”
“It’s clear. Go now. Don’t worry . . . ooohh, rat. Um, Sofia, step on it. Now.”
The next second we’re past the main arterial after almost getting T-boned by the oncoming traffic. We’re on a side-street and Sofia is visibly shaking whilst Mr. Moseley smirks in the passenger seat.
“That was great! I’m glad you didn’t panic and stop in the middle.”
Sofia, panicked: “Yeah. Yeah, thanks. If I had, we wouldn’t be here having this conversation, would we? Mr. Moseley, I don’t have insurance on this car. What are we going to do if I crash? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”
“Now just go around the block. That’s right. Okay, you can turn now. Get behind that bus and follow him back to the parking lot. Oh excuse me; I have a phone call.”
“What?! MR. MOSELEY! YOU CANNOT BE ON YOUR PHONE RIGHT NOW! THIS IS SERIOUS! YOU GOT ME INTO THIS JAM! YOU GOTTA GET ME OUT OF IT. AAAAAAAHHHHH!!”
Not listening, “Hey Joe! How are you? Listen, I’ll call you back, okay? I gotta go. Ha ha, yeah . . .”
Very soon however, we are back in the relative safety of the parking lot. I park the truck as well as I can with my shaking hands, and proceed to have a mental breakdown.
“See?” he says, grinning. “You can drive; you just gotta get out there and do it.”
I burst out laughing.