Monday, January 9, 2012
CRASH! And so it begins ... My baby begins driver's training tonight
One of the thoughts that has always scared me the most: driving. Seriously. As a reporter, I've driven quickly to the scene of way too many car crashes, many of them fatal crashes. I've seen the damage two fast-moving vehicles can do to each other and the people inside them.
I'd rather she just not drive at all. Take the bus, you know? Or just call me! I'd take her anywhere. But life doesn't work that way. America runs on cars. We build vast communities, within which you can't possibly function without a car. Our culture is built around the romanticism of the open road. From Jack Kerouac's road trip to Bruce Springsteen's dreams of Mary "climbing in," to Vin Diesel's blockbuster big-screen escapades, you really can't escape it: we are a nation that worships not only cars, but also getting behind the wheel and using one to take control of your destiny.
And I'm helpless to fight this.
Emma is 14. She's already got her eyes on her mother's Honda Fit, a sporty little red car with a distinctive look and kick-ass stereo. In a few months, when she turns 15, she'll be able to drive with her permit. I just hope she approaches driving safety like she approaches everything else: With caution and attention to detail.
You see, when it comes to being worried about Emma, I do have one thing on my side: Emma, herself, is a worrier. She worries about everything. Once we grabbed some lunch and headed up to MSU to eat. It was summer, and parking enforcement was nil, so we parked in a gold-permit stall and we didn't have a gold permit. We'd be eating nearby, we figured. On the off-chance a parking enforcement guy comes along, we'd move. But Emma was furious. Refused to get out of the car. It was wrong, she implored. Wrong!
Only her love of Subway sandwiches is stronger than her compulsion to follow the rules. So she relented, and joined us, arms crossed, at the picnic table. It was cute. She was 8.
Then ... we heard it.
In the distance, police car sirens wailed. They started low, then, within a few seconds, they sounded closer.
Emma, bless her little heart, heard those sirens and began to panic. Tears welled up in her eyes. What's wrong? we asked. Her answer: She was convinced those sirens were the cops coming to arrest her dad and throw him in jail for -- yep -- illegal parking.
So the girl embarks on one of those touchstone moments today. They'll begin teaching her about rules of the road, about stop signs and turn signals and speed limits. She'll listen to all of it. And follow those rules when she gets behind the wheel, finally.
What concerns me, though, is how others will not.
You can't make a trip to the gas station in this town without driving past a kid driving while on their phone. I've personally witnessed a teen-aged girl blow through a stop sign near Monroe Elementary as she stared down at her phone. It's inescapable. It's a scary time for experienced drivers. It's got to be downright frightening for new ones.
But ... There's nothing I can do other than hope that the little girl who refused to be OK with dad parking in a no-parking zone brings that kind of attitude to driving. If she does -- and I'm pretty sure she will -- I think she'll be OK.
Just my two cents, folks