Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Left Turns

Dad has always had an impeccable driving record. He is probably the only person I know who actually drives the speed limit. ALWAYS. We lived on a long, straight road that had a 25 mph speed limit which was tortuously slow when you were driving with Dad. It was another story when you were driving with Mom. She had a notorious lead foot and so for the longest time I thought that the speed limit on our street was much higher than the posted 25 mph time. Since most of my travels were in the car with Mom, I was always shocked at how painfully slow my father seemed to drive when I finally had to get in the car with him. Somehow this always made him seem so much older than my Mom just because he was driving like a geezer. His motto in life was to avoid any unnecessary exposure at all times which really meant to drive painfully slow and actually stop and look all directions once, twice and one more time before venturing out into more hazardous traffic situations.

I am not really sure when I became aware of Dad's aversion to left turns but I am fairly certain he never liked them. Let me clarify: left turns that did not happen at traffic lights. Come to think of it, I can't say that I have ever seen him make a left turn that would cross him into traffic. In fact, he will go what seems to be miles and miles out of his way to avoid doing this. This can be extremely frustrating for the passenger because you end up taking this obscurely circuitous route around a neighborhood, city or parking lot in order to finally make the safer right hand turn. I never could really understand this and so when I learned to drive, I saw non-traffic-light-left-hand-turns as a huge challenge; a challenge that I successfully, fearlessly, and purposely did just to spite my father.

Fast forward. I am now a parent who has miraculously survived teaching one of my three children how to drive and I am now in the process of teaching the second child (actually, I quit that job because it was causing me to have severe heart trouble so now my husband has that job). How will I ever survive teaching a third? I have now become my father. I get it now, the whole left turn thing. I now know that he was right with his seemingly stupid circuitous routes. It makes sense. Why am I forever morphing into my parents?

She starts the engine and backs out of the driveway, pausing to ask which direction she should go in order to get to our local grocery store. I casually point in the opposite direction from which we normally go and she questions this. "Oh," I say, "I just don't want you to have to make that awful left hand turn across all of that traffic with out a traffic light to help you." Yep, I am my Dad.

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