Below, I’m pleased to present the final installment of the series of posts centering on my ten-year high school reunion…
Drivers Ed was essentially about memorizing procedures, which were a series of meticulous steps addressing every possible aspect of driving. Even ludicrous situations like driving down the freeway and having the hood fly up like in the movie “Tommie Boy” had detailed instructions we memorized to avoid disaster. And naturally, none of these steps was to panic and steer blindly into a crowd of innocent civilians. Now aside from a Chris Farley movie, when would this ever happen? Of course, Drivers Ed instructors would have you believe this occurs nearly every day on their commute to work.
And when we did our driving tests, not only did all of these various procedures have to be performed, but also performed in order. Check parking brake. Fasten Seat belt. Double-check parking brake. Adjust seat. Check mirrors. Release the parking brake. Check cleanliness of ashtray… Seriously, space shuttles can launch faster than this.
But all of these procedures had to be memorized and done perfectly in order before we could depart. They basically forced us to develop obsessive-compulsive personality disorders just to drive a car. Honestly, you pretty much had to be Rain Man to get your license.
Of course, the best part was when you missed a step. You always knew it too, because the instructor would just shake his head in utter disgust. Futilely, I would set and release the parking break a few times and perform pronounced checks of my blind spot, hoping I’d get lucky and randomly execute whatever step I missed.
The funny thing was, every missed procedure somehow resulted in the horrific death of an imaginary pedestrian. Keep in mind; we weren’t even on the road yet. Usually, we were the only car in an empty parking lot. But the instructor would turn to you, and point out how you failed to check the litterbag in the vehicle, and how this oversight just killed an innocent civilian.
And as far as imaginary pedestrians go, it was never an ordinary jogger or something. It was always a mother of nine, in a wheelchair on her way to getting a bone marrow transplant. And you killed her. How do you live with yourself?
When we weren’t on the road we were stuck with the simulators. Of course, the only thing being simulated was our attention span for this BS. Now, the simulators were just that, a fake car interior, with a projector showing imaginary road conditions in front of us. Since it was pretend driving, we usually practiced something totally ridiculous like driving across an oil slick during a monsoon.
As you might expect, the simulators replicated the interior of a 72 Oldsmobile. That was the most ironic thing… It’s a simulator. Why couldn’t they simulate us driving a nice car? It’s all for pretend anyway. Nope, they wanted us to get lots of practice simulating the experience of driving a total piece of crap. Honestly, I think they even had simulated pedestrians laughing at us as we drove by.
In the end it was worth it. Even though I endured lots of public humiliation and developed an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, at least I had the freedom to drive myself to get psychiatric therapy once I had my license. All thanks to Drivers Ed.
Finally, if you would like to download the full-length video clip of the reunion speech (rated PG-13) I delivered to my classmates, you can access it here. Simply right click on the “Download Now” button and save the file to your computer.
I think it’s enjoyable regardless of whether you went to my high school or if you are drunk while viewing it. My audience was both of these things, so that certainly aided my performance.
Note, it’s a big file (50 MB) so be sure you’re Comcasting (new corporate verb!) some high-speed Internet. Also, this link expires in seven days, so if you find that this link is broken, shoot me an email and I’ll repost it.
Finally, thanks for humoring me on my Al Bundy-like fixation on high school memories of late. As of last night, I stopped sleeping in my letterman’s jacket, so this site should be returning to normal shortly.