Now is a good time to renew pride in your country — and any time is right for renewing pride in your driving. It would be ideal if we were all driving with pride this Independence Day and beyond.
I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding student driver training. Besides parental instruction, most of us had formal help. We talked of current driver training agencies and reminisced of our own stints in trainer cars with professional instructors — a time when we placed the utmost concentration on each driving task.
During that learning period, it was a source of great pride to park perfectly, turn skillfully, and master flawless stops. That’s part of being a good driver — prideful driving — a behavior that we hopefully carry on today. I think my friend and I are doing that since we ‘re still talking about it and my friend still tests himself by applying his brakes in a gentle and skillful way so as to not feel the final “rock” of a complete stop. And I thought I was the only one who did that.
Our conversation renewed thoughts of my driving class. Our trainer car was a 1966 Impala. It had a 283 cubic inch V-8, a two-speed Powerglide transmission, and two brake pedals (one on the passenger side).
At the time I was especially prideful when it came to executing maneuvers with aplomb. I will admit that this motivation was partly influenced by one other factor besides simply striving for perfection — that would be to impress the girls in the class riding in the car. They were likely not impressed, but it did play a role in sharpening my skills, so the results were still positive.
As I spoke with my friend, I recalled one day when our instructor, Larry Galloway, gave one of the pupils in our car a stopwatch to time Galloway’s run through the cones. Galloway had set up about ten orange traffic cones in the parking lot to create a slalom course for the Impala. He started the test facing the line of cones, careened through them forwards, then ripped the Powerglide shift lever into “R” and completed his timed run back to the starting line in reverse.
The “master” felt superior as the next three students knocked down cones, went off course, and clocked times sub-standard to his. This was going to be right up my ally, I felt, as at the time I had aspirations of becoming a stunt driver.
With a chirp from the skinny bias-ply tires, I raced forward — no cone hits. I screeched to a stop, and reversed direction. Caressing the seatback with my right arm, I looked over my shoulder and screeched, left, right, left, et cetera back to the start. I was quite proud to have bettered Galloway’s time — some of the students were impressed, but it was hard to tell about the teacher. His only comment was, “That was not very smooth Mr. Love — smoothness is part of driving too.” I agree with that, but is a timed slalom run ever a part of driving, Larry?
The point is: regardless of the motivation, prideful driving is a good thing. Many of us took great pride in our results during the formative driving years, but have not continued that lust for perfection as we’ve aged.
Please renew your driving pride now and throughout the years to come.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.