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Learning To Drive This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I am standing in front of ithe small, gray car: make, model and year unknown.Actually it's a gray car plastered with yellow signs that scream, "Look out!I'm new at this ! I may hit you! Move!" These signs are located convenientlyat every possible angle, so as to properly warn fellow drivers that if they valuetheir lives (or their cars), they should proceed at their own risk. It is mybelief that these signs are also meant to embarrass the driver.

Slowly, Islide into the driver's seat, which is so far back that my feet don't even touchthe pedals. My hand gropes desperately for the lever that will move the seat up.Where is it? Ah, on the left. (I make a mental note.) As I jiggle the lever, theseat slides forward too quickly, and I bang my head on the steeringwheel.

This is not a good sign.

Now I am comfortably seated on thedriver's side of the car. The seatbelt feels strange coming over my leftshoulder, rather than my right, but this thought is quickly overshadowed byanother: there are three keys on the ring. Which one goes in the ignition? Am Isupposed to know this? Is there a special sort of shape to the ignition key thateverybody knows except me? What if I try to put the key that opens the trunk intothe ignition and alarms go off? What if I get so scared when the alarms go offthat I jump and somehow release the emergency brake, and we roll into the middleof the street? What if, when we roll into the middle of the street, we also rollinto an eighteen-wheeler driven by a man named Butch who is a part-time wrestler?Things like this have been known to happen to me.

The instructor smilesgently and shows me the right key. I'm overwhelmed with relief as it glidescooperatively into the ignition. With a twist of my wrist, the car springs tolife. I put the car into reverse, shift my weight, and lightlyaccelerate.

The car doesn't move.

Oh, no, two minutes and I'vealready broken the car! I look at the gas gauge, but it reads full. Now I willnever be allowed to drive, because I will be forever known as The Girl Who BrokeThe Driver Ed. Car. I'd be forced to take the T everyday of mylife.

"You forgot to release the emergency brake," theinstructor tells me, obviously amused.

This, too, is a badsign.

Emergency brake released, I manage to maneuver the car down mydriveway without incident. I have renewed confidence in myself now, and I lean alittle too hard on the accelerator as I pull out into the street. Blinker up, Iwait at the end of my street to come out onto Washington Street. This is it! Justtwo more cars, and then I can really get going! Okay...look... Go!

The carsputters and stalls.

Strike three.

I'll take the T, thank you.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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