Flying Without Leaving the Ground

September 25, 2007
By Liz Searcy, Loma, CO

Learning to drive is no easy task. There are so many things to remember: turn on your turn signal before you turn, but not too early or too late; you have to drive for everyone on the road, not just yourself; you can’t make a 90 degree turn at thirty-five mph; and which side of the road do we drive on again? Okay, so maybe the last one was a joke, but when it comes right down to it driving is not just following the curve of the road and staying in your lane. Driving is so much more.

Today was my first day driving on the interstate. I am not lying when I say I was so scared I almost whizzed my pants when my dad told me to turn onto the interstate. The fastest up ‘til then that I had gone was fifty-five miles an hour. This road looked like NASCAR racing to me. Watching my parents navigate this war zone for fifteen years was bad enough, I didn’t think that I would ever be able to do it.

While paying close attention to the instructions that my dad was telling me I carefully merged onto the highway of death. As I tried to get my little Saturn SL-1, from ’92, to climb up to seventy-five, people passed me going way over the speed limit. Half of them didn’t even use a turn signal. At this point in the story I would like to point out that the majority of the people who did not use their turn signal were about fifty years old.

Anyways, when I got up to about seventy my mom told me that for my first few times if I kept my car going about sixty-five I would be okay. Her reasons were that you get better fuel economy at this speed, and that I have a slower reaction time so going slower will help cut down the amount of time it takes for me to stop.

All the while it has started to sprinkle a little bit and I am getting a little worried about hydroplaning. It had already rained earlier today and I wasn’t sure how much rain it took to make a car drive on water. My dad addressed this issue as if he and I had linked brain waves.

He said, “Now don’t get all excited right now, but when water puddles up in the grooves made where trucks travel a lot, you need to straddle those puddles. If you don’t you will hydroplane. That is where your car drives on water and you can’t stop or steer. You loose control of your car. You, because you have such a little car, can straddle those puddles easily on either side.” A minute later he said, “ You will be shot to the moon if that happens.”

The farther I drive the more comfortable I become on this road of destruction. When we reach the twenty- four road exit I do my best to slow down and use my turn signal. Others on that particular roundabout are not as thoughtful to use theirs and I ended up waiting for a while.

When we reached our destination alive, my little sister got out of the car and performed her usual ritual of kissing the ground. I pretend not to see this and listen to some other tid-bits of information that my parents are sharing with me.

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