Bad Drivers Anonymous

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

By Elysia Rouggly

Ah, sweet sixteen. This age is a high point for every teenager because turning 16 means one thing: driver's license. I've been 16 for four months now and have only a permit, long expired. People have asked why I don't have my license yet, but I simply say that I'm too lazy. Sadly, I have yet to tell them the real reason. What I really want to say to all those people who bug me about my license is: "My past driving experiences have been so horrific that they've scarred me for life, and I'll probably be hitchhiking until I'm 80!"

All right, all right, I suppose I should give an explanation for my fear of driving. My permit was only a few weeks old when I introduced my mother's Dodge Caravan to a three-foot ditch. My side of the story goes like this: One gorgeous summer day I was driving on a gravel road and had to make a right-angle turn after a stop sign. Carefully I pulled the wheel, confident that no one would be around the curve, until I came face to face with the biggest truck I'd ever seen. As one might have guessed, the road I'd pulled onto couldn't hold an enormous truck and a minivan at the same time, so I screamed and the van retreated nose-first into a ditch.

When the dust cleared, the kind man that nearly killed me stopped his giant truck and asked if I was OK. Shakily, I looked at my mother, who was seated next to me with her eyes bulging and her knuckles white from gripping the seat so hard. I let Mom drive home.

My mother would tell the story like this, "Oh, she saw a truck coming from about a mile off and tried to kill us by driving into a ditch." Thanks, Mom.

My driving experiences have gone downhill from there. I've been offered countless bits of advice about how to drive safely from family and friends, but nothing seems to help.

"It's dark and foggy tonight. Turn on your brights, go slowly, and DON'T HIT THAT DEER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!" Thanks, Dad.

"When you're driving on gravel, it's a bad idea to do this," my brother says as he fishtails all over the road.

Yes, I have learned much. Still, I doubt I'll ever get my license, much less be a good driver. So years from now when you see a poor old woman standing on the side of the interstate with her thumb in the air, be nice and give her a ride because that old lady will probably be me. Or, you can just point and laugh as you drive past, and I'll shake my fist at you and holler, "Just wait 'til I get my license!"

Elysia Rouggly is a student at Jackson High School.

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