Learning to Drive The sun was just rising as I followed my father outside. I had no idea what was so important that I needed to be awake at the crack of dawn, but he sure was excited about it. When I looked down the driveway I couldn’t believe my eyes. There sat a brand new Audi A6. I sprinted over to it and ran my hands over the glassy smooth hood. “Jordan, you earned this car,” my father said. “You’ve been busting your ass off in school and around the house, and your mother and I want to show you how proud we are of you. ” “Thank you so much Dad! ” “Your welcome, son.
I know you’re excited, but this is not a toy, and I’ll take it from you if you mistreat it. ” “I know, Dad,” I said. I honestly wasn’t listening to anything he said. My mind was focused on the car. “No Jordan, look at me,” he said. I peered up at him, struggling to take my eyes off of the beautiful car. “Consider this car a privilege that will be taken from you if you do not respect it,” he said. “Alright, I got it,” I said. “Can I take it for a drive? ” “Yeah go on, have fun,” he said. At the age of seventeen, freedom was rare for me. My parents treated me like a little child, always watching my every move, and telling me what to do.
Of course all of the protection was because they “loved me so much,” but a little space would have been nice. Unlike my friends, I had a weekend curfew of 11:00 and going out on weeknights was never an option. These were rules that I strictly adhered to in order to appease my father. He was a large man, standing tall at 6’1” and weighing nearly 250 pounds. My friends joke that when he puts on his black pinstriped suit with his slicked back hair he looks like the head of the mafia. We told these jokes about my father, but at the end of the day we all feared him. It wasn’t just his appearance that was intimidating, but it was his ersonality as well. My father was a man of principle. He doesn’t steal, he holds to all of his promises, and he believes in a good work ethic. All of the miniscule daily decisions that i made were influenced by him. Right before he gets home from work, I quickly turn off the video games and pretend to be doing homework as if I had been solving algebraic equations for hours. My posture quickly gets much better when he enters the room. I even tend to walk the dogs a couple more blocks then usual when he is around. The pressure I had to earn his approval was a little overwhelming. Sometimes I needed a break from it.
One of the few chances I had to escape from my dad’s overbearing watch came one week after I was given my new car. It was my parents’ twenty-fourth anniversary and they were out at their favorite restaurant. With the distraction of their anniversary night. I was free to do whatever I wanted. I decided to take my new car out for a drive. It was a metallic blue, Audi A6. This car was uncommon among high school kids. In the school parking lot it’s sleek design and shiny finish made it stand out like the moon amongst the stars on a clear night. But I didn’t care about the cars looks. I loved it for the speed!
The car was fast and it seemed to float on the road. This night was the perfect chance for me to really test it’s limits. I drove to my friend Mike’s house to pick him up and show off my car. He was the center of my high school’s basketball team and his big body sat very uncomfortably in the passenger seat of my tiny car. With Mike hunched over in the front seat we went speeding through town with little regard for the speed limit. I made a turn into Burgundy Hills, which was very familiar to me. I knew this neighborhood well, so I had no problem blowing stop signs and racing around blind turns.
My car was fast, and it handled like no other car either of us have ever driven. “Punch it,” mike said. I pushed the gas pedal to the ground, and the force of the car’s acceleration held me and mike tight into our seats. As I made a quick decision to whip my car around a turn, I realized I had seriously misjudged it. Before I could hit the breaks my car hopped over the curb and smashed into a fire hydrant. The force of the impact ripped the fire hydrant from the ground. There was a sharp screeching sound as it scraped the undercarriage of the car. My immediate reaction was to drive away, but the car disagreed with that inclination.
No amount of swearing and pounding on the steering wheel could convince the car to budge. I looked at Mike for assistance, but the fear in his cold blue eyes just made the situation worse. When I opened the door and stepped out of the car, I immediately felt the stares of the neighbors pressing against my body. The crash must have sounded like a bomb exploded because I had the attention of every person in the neighborhood. As I walked around to the front of the car, I tried convincing myself that it was fine. The car was only going to have a tiny scratch on it. I was wrong.
The front was bashed in and oil was pouring out from underneath the hood. I couldn’t believe it. I had managed to destroy the car in less then a week. A lady approached me and asked me if I was ok. Choking back my tears, I told her I was fine. I asked her what I should do, but I knew what she was going to say. “Call your parents,” she said. How could I tell my father that I just wrecked this amazing car? He had trusted me and I blew it. I told her I couldn’t do it. She tried comforting me by telling me that my parents would be happy that I was ok. She was wrong. She didn’t know my father.
Delaying the phone call to my parents, I instead called my older sister, who was at home. When she answered I told her what had happened. I waited for a response, but there was only silence. The next voice I heard was my father’s. “What the hell did you do! ” my dad yelled. He was supposed to be out to dinner. “I crashed the car,” I said. “Is it drivable? ” he asked. “No. ” “Where are you? ” “I’m in Burgundy Hills. ” “Where in Burgundy Hills? ” “On Cushmore Road, right off of Street Road. ” “Alright I’m coming now. ” I put down the phone and sat on the curb. Mike sat next to me and we waited.
Neither of us spoke. I didn’t want to, and I could tell he didn’t know what to say. The wait felt like hours. With the sound of every approaching car my heart would begin to race, and it wasn’t until the cars passed that my heart returned to its normal pace. This next car, however, did not pass. It was my dad. The sound of his door opening was followed by it slamming. I immediately stood up along with the hairs on the back of my neck. I looked up at him and only saw anger in his face. “Look what you did, you jerk,” he said. I didn’t say anything. I just stared down at the ground while he approached the car.
He walked over to the driver side and he entered the car. I watched him furiously turn the key in the ignition, hoping that the car would come back to life, but the car would not start. It was dead. He cursed at the car as if it was the cars fault, but all of the blame was mine. He got out of the car and I once again heard the slam of the car door. He walked over to me and continued to yell. “Not only did you ruin this car, but you also put Mike’s life in danger. Do you realize how stupid you are? ” I went back to staring at the ground. He told me and Mike to get into his car.
He then proceeded to take out his phone and call the towing company. We walked over to his car. Through the headlights it was hard to tell, but I saw a figure in passenger seat. It was my mother. This was disheartening because I thought that I would have to deal with her disappointment as well, but to my surprise she was much less upset. When we climbed into the backseat of the car, she took my hand and told me she was relieved that we were ok. I told her I was sorry that I ruined her anniversary, and she said it was fine. My mom was much more sympathetic then my dad, and I always had a much easier time talking to her.
She always seemed to know what to say and when to say it. But when my dad climbed back into the car, she became silent. She wasn’t going to say anything to anger my dad anymore. He immediately started dishing out punishments. “You are never driving again. You are grounded for a year. You will pay for all of the damages. You will apologize to mike and all of the people you disturbed in this neighborhood. ” “I’m sorry, Dad,” I said. That was all I could say. There was no need for an excuse. I knew that I screwed up and he did as well. That may be why he never even asked me how the accident happened.
All of the trust that I spent most of my life trying to earn was lost that night. After the accident, my outlook on my life became pessimistic for a little while. But eventually things returned to normal. After a couple months of boring weeks filled with intense chore work, I slowly earned back my privileges. My grounding of a year, was reduced to three months. I was allowed to drive my parents’ cars to go pick up groceries for them. I even got another car in the spring. The Audi was totaled because of the crash, but when my grandmother passed away five months later, her 1994 Toyota Corolla was handed down to me.
This car was not as luxurious as the Audi was, but I appreciated it much more. My appreciation for the shitty car, however, didn’t dictate my actions very well. I managed to crash the car two times in the next two years which resulted in $1,600 of damages. The punishments were not nearly as severe because my parents decided that having to pay for the damages was enough. After every accident the fear of my fathers reaction diminished greatly. I always knew that he would get upset, but like the last accidents, he would get over it. In a weird way, my car crashes opened up me and my fathers relationship.
We suddenly had things to joke about. Our uptight relationship became more friendly and relaxed. I was finally able to talk to him about other aspects of my life, and even his. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one in the family to have been in an accident before. My father had his fair share of car accidents too. After hearing about my father’s mishaps, I realized that I made my childhood to hard on myself. I strived to be perfect, just like him. But he wasn’t perfect, nobody is. Everybody makes mistakes, it just turns out that one of my first real mistakes was a pretty damn big one.