Saturday, October 23, 2010

Always Expect A Train

So, today I went to driving school.

I was stopped for speeding a few months ago here in Powhatan County. I was distractedly following the guy in front of me in the right lane, not intentionally speeding. I wasn't in a hurry. I just wasn't paying attention to my speed.

Which, I learned today, is the number one cause of speeding. Inattention.

So, today I went to driving school. And paid attention.

It was an interesting seven hours. Sort of a brief look into American culture that I found somewhat reassuring and a little bit disturbing, and extremely interesting.

There were four adults - "old people", as one of my kids said - and four teens / early twenty-somethings. All of us seemed to be appropriately humbled by the mere fact that we were enduring the punitive effects of our choice - whether that be the choice to willfully disobey the law or just be lost in space somewhere while driving. Or, in the case of one young man, to be there voluntarily. Go figure.

Anyway, due to court order or DMV requirements, there we were, at Saturday driving school. I'm not yet certain whether the value lies in the punishment or the education; a little of both, no doubt. I felt duly punished - it was a gorgeous day, and I did not get to spend it with my family. Plus I had to sit in a hard metal chair.

On the educational side, there were a few things I learned or observed. I wrote them down, and here I will list them for you; some are direct quotes from the instructor or other class members:
  • "Why do pencils have erasers? Because they make mistakes. Humans are like pencils."
  • Q: "Why should you not stop to pick up an injured animal on the road?" A: "It may not be fully dead."
  • Regarding the apparent ease of talking on a cell phone while driving: "Most people say, 'I'm not a Polack. I can talk on the phone and drive at the same time.' "
  • "If your car gets stuck on the train tracks, what should you do?" "" "Which way?" "Uh....away from the train?"
  • Movie number one:  "The Final Factor", with theme music lifted straight from The Exorcist. Movie number two: "Die Hard If You're Dumb: Railroad Motion Tips". 
  • "Always expect a train."
  • "Blind people cannot drive. You will need to know this on the quiz."
  • "Blue signs tell you about services and information. For example, if I am visiting in a new town, I need to know where the KFC is."
  • "Not everybody that runs over their husband with a car gets away with it."
I missed two questions on the quiz, graduated and came home.

I carefully watched my speed the entire way.


WhatAboutNovember said...

I love the title. Love.

relentlesscactus said...

"If your car gets stuck on the train tracks, what should you do?" "" "Which way?" "Uh....away from the train?"

Believe it or not, that is actually incorrect. I know it doesn't seem that way. But you should actually run towards the train, not on the tracks of course. Why? Because the train will hit the car and it will fly in the direction you are running if you are running away from the train. If you run towards the train, off the tracks, your car is going the other way. Many people have been killed by being hit by their car, even sometimes standing next to their car it can be spun around and hit you. The worst I've heard about was two woman who drove onto the tracks next to a vertical cement wall and then got stuck. A train came, then ran away from it, the train hit the car and dragged it between the plow ("cow catcher") and the cement wall, and they were run over by their own car. Yuck. If they'd run toward the train along the wall, they would have been fine. It's anti-intuitive, but on the off chance you ever stall your car on a track, that can save your life. Cheers.