For the last few months I have been teaching Syd how to drive the truck. To be honest she is not keen being in the drivers seat of a 17 foot long, 6.5 foot wide SUV. She is constantly aware that she is inches from being in a lane on either side of her but my philosophy is simple; “If you can drive this big truck you can drive anything.”
Last weekend was a day trip of clothes shopping for school and she wanted a couple of her friends to come along. I see this as the perfect opportunity to get some driving practice in and told her she was driving. The first stop was to her friend Kennedy’s house. Kennedy’s house is on a huge hill that really takes some work to get up. We get to the house and someone has parked a car directly in front of the driveway. I think this is a great moment to teach Syd how to maneuver around the car and back up the driveway.
“Syd, pull to the right of the vehicle and turn the wheel to the right, you are going to back in at an angle to get around the car.” Syd is not feeling this move at all. She is looking at the car, how much room is between our truck and the car and feels like she is going to hit the car.
“No worries Syd, just back up a little” and she does. She is at the perfect position to miss the car but she is still worried. “Go ahead give it some gas and back up. You are going to miss the car.” What I neglected to mention to you is this SUV has a very T-O-U-C-H-Y accelerator. You can lightly hit it and the truck will lurch in whatever direction the transmission is pointed. In this case Syd “lightly” touched the gas and the truck lurched backwards so fast that the tires chirped and we were on our way…..into the MAILBOX!!!!! SHYUUTTTTTTTTTT STOPPPPP!!!!! SCREECH!!!! We missed the mailbox by inches. My heart was beating like a bass drum. After we (ok, me) calmed down Syd was able to get up the hill using the rear camera and mirrors. We left Kennedy’s house and moved on to pick up Jayla with no additional issues.
Once everyone was in the truck I did what most people wouldn’t think to do. I told the young ladies to talk to Syd while she drove and I turned up the radio, playing all the songs they would listen too. Of course “Mask Off” by Future came on. Imagine a 47 year old man sitting a car with his wife and three teenage girls rappin “Mask on, mask off, Mask on, mask off, Percocets, molly, Percocets” Syd’s friends look at me like HUUHHH???? “What, I like the song!” We drive about 60 miles to the outlet stores all the while there is music blaring, teenagers talking and all kinds of traffic. Syd drove flawlessly the entire trip.
On the trip back I decided to let Syd sit with her friends while Andrea and I drove back. We got to the next mall and the girls continued shopping while Andrea and I talked. I told her that I wanted to introduce all types of distractions while Syd drove. That’s why I encouraged the girls to talk to Syd and blasted the music. I created what would normally happen in a driving situation but in a huge truck in order to make sure Syd understood what she will be facing while driving. Andrea said, “I was wondering why you did that.” I told her I took a lesson from her driver trainer who basically did the same thing while teaching her how to drive a tractor and trailer. In a little over six months Syd will be driving 50-60 miles round trip from the house to her school. I’m trying to make sure she can handle any situation be it traffic, music, friends talking or any combination of “potentials”. Atlanta has some of the stupidest drivers and I have to be able to trust that she will be ok on the road and make it there and back home safely. Better to be over prepared than ill prepared.
Next up, a tactical driving program designed to educate her on how to control a car with a flat tire, being run off the road, in a skid, car jacking and any other scenario the instructors have in the training curriculum.
And to the parents of the young ladies in the car with us…don’t worry. The mailbox incident happened before we picked them up. LOL