Driver’s Ed Hell

I should have known that if I couldn’t master the charts of acceleration and deceleration lanes and on and off ramps that it would be my nemesis for the rest of my life. First of all my geography skills and ability to read maps in general totally suck. Add in a mix of excessive anxiety and you’ve got a case headed for disaster. Truly, not much good could  come from me taking driver’s education except the fact that it got my parents off the hook for teaching me to drive.

The driver’s education teachers in my day were the physical education teachers at the local high school. And as luck would have it, I got paired up with Mr. Trusdale. He was a brawny black man with an unbelievably charismatic personality. He was a preacher on the side and was known at school for his colorful outbursts. Most of the kids adored him, but I was scared to death of him. And of course, as my driving partner, I was set up with another girl named Susan who just happened to be a laid back well seasoned driver. I was doomed.

Oh, to say my stomach hurt is an understatement. It was in knots and my legs were weak and wobbly. You could even see my hands shaking I was so nervous. I worried all morning. When I got ready to get in the car each morning, I almost threw up. I trembled for at least two classes afterwards, and then it started again the next day. I can’t remember how many weeks we had to endure driver’s ed, but it was the longest period in my life. It seemed an eternity.

Mr. Trusdale used these on the road excursions as the opportunities to run his personal errands like going to the Chicken Coop to pick up his lunch or dropping by his house for him to retrieve items. It never, ever failed that I happened to be driving when he wanted to pop by his house. The trick was that he wouldn’t let you turn around. He made you back out of the long, narrow, curving, gravel drive that bordered along a hedge and directed you right onto a two lane road back road.

Where he made you drive was only the beginning of the matter. He had lots of little tricks to complicate things. He would yawn with a guffaw that would wake the dead and stretch out both arms smacking you on the shoulder with one arm. Out of no where he’d bam the back of the seat. Occasionally, he would jerk the wheel and run you off the road. I’m surprised he valued his life so little as to try that with me, but I guess he and God had a good thing going.

The fear I had of those back winding dirt roads was nothing compared to the threat I felt of Route 29. This ran two lanes North and two lanes South. And it appeared to be big time to me. The was the road that tractor trailers traveled from Charlottesville to Lynchburg. Murphy’s Law was always with me, as I always wound up behind one, and Mr. Trusdale would insist that I speed up and pass that sucker. My arms would be stiff and my knuckles white and clenching the wheel. He’d cackle and tell me to lighten up. It took everything I had not to burst into tears.

I thought for sure that I was going to fail driver’s ed. I figured I’d be the first in the history of the school to flunk it. Miraculously, Mr. Trusdale passed me with a B-. (With the exception of algebra, that was the lowest grade I’d ever received.)I don’t know whether I actually earned it, if he felt sorry for me, or if he feared that he’d have to instruct me again.

There are many driving stories I could tell you, but each probably deserves a post of it’s own. Let’s just say that I am a careful driver. I am ok as long as I know where I’m going and I don’t have to enter or exit the interstate. I’m fine after I get on the interstate. Oh, and I hate going through the tunnels as well. Give me any back road and I can whip around it like a race car driver, and I don’t mind the traffic here in my city so much. It’s the same dang acceleration and deceleration lanes and ramps that get me! I suppose it won’t surprise you to know that I only put about three thousand miles a year on my car. Once the tires dry rotted before they wore out! It suffices to say that I will never have a career as a truck driver or delivery person.

40 thoughts on “Driver’s Ed Hell

  1. Hey girl, at least you had driver’s ed. Our town was so small, we didn’t have it in high school. Can we say tractor???

  2. “The driver’s education teachers in my day were the physical education teachers at the local high school”

    Yes Mam we do have a lot in common here, sounds like both of our Drivers Ed instructors sure enjoyed their jobs.

  3. My school did not have a driver’s education class. I had to take a private one. I don’t think they taught me well since I subsequently got into about five big accidents in my life. I am a much better driver now. I am slow and I take my time…I don’t care if I am late. I guess this is one of the perks of getting older. you know..the who cares motto!

  4. “Once the tires dry rotted before they wore out”. Too funny…reminds me of someone I know…sitting not a million miles away from me here! 😉

  5. I hated dirver’s ed too. I learned how to drive in NJ – the most traffic congested state! The first day of driver’s ed was the first time I’d ever gotten behind the wheel of a car. The instructor was evil. He made me drive on Route 46 the first day. Four lanes of high speed traffic both ways. I had to hit the on ramp at 55 mph. I still dislike that man.

  6. I don’t know if Mr. Truesdale did this with you or not, or maybe it was just because he didn’t like me… he would occasionally, for no reason, even if we were driving down Hwy 29 SLAM on his set of brakes and send us almost flying into the windshield! By the end of MY driver’s ed course I think I disliked him even more than I feared him! Bless his heart! I’m sure he had his reasons….

  7. Our driver’s ed teacher was Mr. Volansky and I don’t know what else he taught. He ran the a-v department and drove a bus as well.
    He sure was glad that he had a brake on his side of the car when I was driving. He was the one with stiff arms and white knuckles, and I wasn’t that bad. Really, I wasn’t. I mean, there were worse. So that makes me not so bad, right?

  8. Oh, this is too funny! The drivers ed teachers at my school where the phy ed teachers too. And I grew up in a small town, with only one stoplight (the only stoplight in the county). So we would practice in our town, and then for the last session of behind-the-wheel we would go to the neighboring “city” with multiple lanes and lots of traffic. Very stressful.

    My mother-in-law never drove. She tried to get her license in her 30s and was so terrible at it that she quit. Thank goodness for living in a place with public transportation.

  9. Wow, scary. My dad taught me to drive. Not fun but not like what you experienced. At my test, the guy reached his foot over to step on my brake and hit the gas by accident. Luckily, MY foot was on the brake….a loud mess but no crash. He was a mousy idiot who thought I was backing up too fast and couldn’t just say so. I’m sure you drive just fine!

  10. ” First of all my geography skills and ability to read maps in general totally suck.”

    OMG…I’m the SAME WAY!

    I can lost in cardboard box!

    When I took my drivers test it was on a like a testing race track. I was never taken out on the open road. Strange, hu? Anyway, I failed the first time, so I had to go back and take it again.

    I’m with you, I’m not one for driving. I much prefer living in a city where I can walk or take public transportation. The only time I enjoy driving is when I’m in the country with no other cars around me.

    Funny post, SC!

  11. I stopped driving after I moved to an apartment in SF with no parking at all. I really didn’t mind. Transportation was on every corner and it was easy. For a while, I’d rent a car on weekends, but even that stopped in time. Living in the City, you really didn’t need a car, period. When we moved to Alameda (small island town), I figured forget the driving. It’s an island. I can walk and since I don’t swim anyway, I really can’t get lost!

  12. AHHH! OMGOSH! Are all driving instructors just insane? Your’s sounds like he ENJOYED freaking people out. My driver’s ed teacher was also a gym teacher and coach. He called me “Red”. I just remember getting on the freeway, and he started laughing, “You know, Red, you can go faster than fifty, right?”

  13. As weird as driver’s ed was, I wish they still had it! (Don’t, where we live. And that means parents have to pick up the tab into the many hundreds of dollars.)

    I’d much prefer to subject my kids to wacky drivers ed.

    • They’re fazing out driver’s ed in the school system where I live. The list to get in is extensive, so we opted as most parents here do and footed the bills to send both kids to private driving school.

  14. Oh poor you, SuziCate. So sorry. I love to drive. Driving is awesome. Now the people on the road are the problem. In my area most of the people on the road have not had any experience with vehicles before getting their license so they are not that familar with cars, or the way they function, or roads, or freeways—and then throw in a cell phone and you have such fun!

    The key to entering OR exiting and interstate (where are you? We call them freeways.) is that once you are on the entrance OR the exit CONSIDER IT THE FREEWAY AND PUNCH IT!!!! (or more accurately in the case of the exit — don’t slam on the brakes). I don’t remember much of anything about drivers ed except my instructor said, “And freeway exit is still the freeway,” you need to keep you speed up and the worse thing you can do it stop. He also said not to CLENCH the steering wheel. Hold it firmly.

    So, how is that for blogseat drivng? (Tee hee!)

    • I’m in a fairly large city in Virginia, but not as crazy as the D.C. area. Yes, all the things I learned in driver’s ed but have a problem applying (the speeding up or not slowing on the ramps). I’d rather blog drive.

      • I hate traffic for the reason being that often times the flow is the speed limit than STOPPED. And a lot of people on on their phones and I am always afraid they are not going to stop.

        I think some people are not comfortable with speed. I know a woman who wouldn’t go over 25 MPH no matter what. I spend the entire time in the car with her hunched down so I could watch the side view mirror to see who was going to rear end us!

  15. I could get lost in a paper bag (laugh). I need to have landmarks and clear driving instructions to get anywhere I am going or for sure I would get lost.
    I grew up in Miami and learned to drive the interstate early…I drive like a big city freak who lives in a small city now. I think our mantra growing up was whoever honks first, goes first. Gotta love it.

  16. And I thought my driver’s ed teacher was kooky! I think I probably would have had a heart attack if someone jerked the wheel when I was driving. My teacher, however, was too busy constantly slamming on the brakes that were on his side of the car.

  17. These days, I just can’t believe there ISN’T a required driver’s ed here in Florida. I remember my class in high school focused so much on the dangers of drunk driving–thank goodness. They showed all of these films that scared the crap out of us. When out driving, I would always stop in the road when I was supposed to merge…I just couldn’t tell if it was safe! My very patient teacher was like, “I didn’t tell you to STOP, I told you to MERGE.” Thank goodness parallel parking wasn’t on the test.

  18. I never took driver’s ed and from the sounds of it I’m glad! Your daily panic attacks were making my tummy flop.

    I got taught by my Aunt and first hubby. They were more scared than I was!

    The only time to be scared of a big rig, is when you can’t see the driver in his side mirrors. If you can’t see the driver, then he/she can’t see you.

    Glad tou managed to pass the class!

  19. I laughed out loud at this one! I had Mr. Truesdale for driver’s ed also, and I had forgotten all those little quirky things he did while we were driving. He made me drive through Tyro somewhere through a 1-lane tunnel where you had to blow the horn before you went through. Then we went to Amherst on one of his “errands.” It was fun to remember back to that time. Another great post!!!

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