Monday, January 31, 2011

Go! No, Stop!

On Saturday, Cal decided to have Jacob drive on Brainerd Rd. While Cal and I both drove in big city traffic when we were growing up, the kids have only had small town traffic.  But Brainerd approximates downtown chaos.  So we told Jake that he was driving us to WalMart, located off of Brainerd. (The WalMart trip is Cal’s and my weekly date so it was a bit of an inconvenience to us. But hey, it was for Jacob’s greater good.)

At the car, Cal asked if I wanted to ride shotgun and thus be the driving instructor. I said “no” since I was on migraine meds—I thought that I’d doze in the backseat.  I dozed for about 5 seconds. Jacob pulled out of the driveway and was going forward. Then some imbecile in a massive black SUV decided he didn’t want to wait for Jacob.  He wanted to squeeze through.  Jake kept going—he had the right of way.  After I yelled, from the back seat, Jacob stopped.  Afterward, I gave him my “you-almost-gave-your-mother-heart-failure” speech. To which he responded that I was never in any real danger. Yeah, right. This was not boding well for the trip to WalMart.

We got to the end of our street. To make a right on Brainerd, you have to punch the accelerator because there’s a sharp, blind curve about 10 yards from where our street meets Brainerd. You can’t see any oncoming traffic. So if it looks clear, you punch the gas and pray.  We explained the situation to Jake.  He pulled up to the stop sign.  It was clear.  Cal said, “Go!” Jake hesitated. Cal and I yelled, “Stop!” as a car flew around the curve doing 40 mph minimum. We waited.  Cal said, “Punch it!” Jake punched it, and we didn’t get hit. Yay!

In the midst of avoiding cars weaving in and out of traffic, Jacob commented that no one was using their turn signals.  It is Cal’s firm belief that no one signals because they’re afraid that if they do, the driver they’re trying to get in front of will cut them off.  It is my firm belief that if you turn on your turn signal and make eye contact with the driver, they will let you in. Of course, if it’s a teenager in a hoodie or an old lady, you can forget that. (Yes, I know, that’s profiling. But it works for me.)

The rest of the trip to WalMart was uneventful.  The trip home was peaceful until we needed to make a left turn. Cal and I had decided that we didn’t want Jake to do the suicide left turn across Brainerd at the blind turn. (It’s my favorite way to go because it’s faster, but neither Luke or Ariel will take it because it’s “unsafe.”) Still, that meant that Jake had to make a left onto Germantown—an overburdened two lane road that feeds onto the Interstate.  Of course, the intersection was packed and the only way to get through was to make a left on the arrow, which it looked like we would miss because we were so far back.  Cal said, “Get in the suicide lane and pull through to the turning lane. Hurry, go!”  Jake pulled in. I shouted, “Stop!” An SUV ahead of us decided to do the same thing and he didn’t look over his shoulder.  Jake stomped on the brake.  The SUV driver went on his merry way none the wiser to the fact that Jake’s good reflexes saved his hide.

For the rest of the drive, Jake mumbled, “Go. No, Stop!” to himself.  After we pulled into the drive, he said, “You know, it would be easier with only one instructor. And if you guys didn’t change your minds all the time.”


  1. When you can drive by yourself, everything becomes incredibly easy and desperately dangerous. You'll wish you had a dozen instructors.

  2. Hey, I make that turn across Brainerd. I avoid it sometimes in high traffic because I think the other way may actually be faster.

  3. It's a different world today on the roads. More traffic and too many distractions like cell phones. Way more dangerous than it was when I started driving.

  4. I feel your pain. I am not allowed to comment when in the back seat, but sometimes it just slips out. We are working on our third new driver, with one more to go.

  5. You really have to be careful on the roads now. I avoid driving completely. Well, only b/c I hate driving standard and that's what we have! I need a chauffeur!