Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who Needs Garmin when there is Tom-Tom

Last night we had dinner over at my Dad and Evil Stepmother’s (ESM) place and while we were hanging out digesting our yummy Thanksgiving in May dinner, the conversation turned toward driving in the city. ESM recently purchased a Garmin GPS for her car and was really excited to begin using it as she is a Real Estate Broker and constantly on the go; getting lost on the way to show a house does not bode well for financial gain after all. The purchase was made after they had attended a wedding reception in New Hampshire and got lost on the way out of the state. My Dad was upset because he was always known as the back road king with a perfect sense of direction.

My Dad was the first person to really teach me how to drive. We went to the parking lot of the now defunct Aku-Aku restaurant in Cambridge one cloudy day and I learned what it meant to drive a vehicle without power anything -- windows, steering or brakes. We rode around in circles in his navy blue Chevy S-10; or rather I attempted to drive he coolly reminded me that the brake was a best friend when approaching something I could not steer around. Luckily for me he had at one time been a driving instructor so he had the calmness of a saint on that day.

Years before that is when I really learned to drive however, sitting on my Dad’s lap at about age five behind the wheel of his blue and white striped van. He was probably only doing two miles per hour but I felt like we were flying as I attempted to steer a wheel that was even bigger than me while he worked the pedals. I do not remember a whole lot from the experience, other than my Dad saying stuff like “Good now turn a little to the right. No honey, this way.” These days while people like Britney Spears are condemned to hell forever for taking part in such an activity I remember it as one of the best bonding moments with my Dad.

Driving was a popular theme for making memories with my Dad. He picked us up in the van or the little blue truck every other Sunday after the divorce so either my sister or I got to sit in the middle. Unfortunately in the van that meant a milk crate, among lots of construction equipment, but the truck had a bench seat. We would go the five blocks from Mom’s house to Dad’s and in that short time he would end up seeing at least three people he knew; of course he would beep and wave but when we pulled over to chat with them he always called them “Guy” because just like my Grampa before him remembering names was not his strong suit. Luckily patience was.

Years later when I got The Apollo I was invited to go up to see some family in New Hampshire but that meant getting on the highway which I had yet to do and was petrified of (hey I grew up in Boston, the rumors of crazy drivers here are in fact all true). He told me we could go out and practice a couple days in advance. I definitely got up to speed on that on ramp and figured gunning it was the best, most appropriate way to fit right into the lane. I do not recall if anyone beeped or if we just happened to be lucky enough to escape near death, but even my Dad, the un-phased driving instructor, turned ghost white. In the most even tone he said words I will never forget “OK, honey you should always look in your mirror when you merge onto a highway to avoid an accident.” I do not think he could form any words other than that as he tried his best to hide his hyperventilating and we may not have spoken again until the car was safely parked back at the curb in front of his house. Now that I think back, I am not sure we took the highway home.

Last night we all talked about short cuts and back roads and the best ways to avoid traffic lights and laughed over the fact that we are so similar in the way we drive. I do like to avoid lights and traffic as much as possible and gladly accept him passing the back road crown on to me. Although neither of us are the lead foot types anymore we both still believe it is possible to get anywhere in Boston in just fifteen minutes. And it is, as long as Tom-Tom, not Garmin, is leading the way.


Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Just a note on the ESM thing for new readers -- this is what she calls herself, I love her to death & because she refers to herself in this way you can probably understand why, and how, we get along so well :-)

Bridgete said...

My mom taught me how to drive. But...I drive like my dad. Probably because once I learned how to actually operate the vehicle my dad was the one who took me out driving to get practice before going for the license test.

Regarding highways, I was actually really comfortable on them from the beginning. There was one time when my dad and I were out driving and we weren't planning on having me do highway driving, but his directions accidentally got me stuck in a lane that was going to spit me out on the highway. There was nothing I could do, so I just started speeding up when it was time to do it. He said, "Don't speed up!" and I calmly replied, "Dad, we're getting on the highway, there's nothing we can do about it right now, and I have to get up to speed." And he said, "'re right." From then on, I never had a problem with them.

However...I am glad that the first time I was ever on a BOSTON highway, I had a few years of highway driving under my belt. I agree, those drivers would be terrifying for anyone new to the game. =)

pastrywitch said...

That was a great read - my dad tried one time to teach me to drive - then he handed me over to driver's ed and a professional instructor.....

ginger said... mom tried to teach me how to drive, but we drove each other insane and i couldn't take it anymore so a friend of mine taught me how to drive in her old, school bus yellow F150. i'm also lucky because i lived in the mountains and owned a 1974 bug and now know how to drive in any weather, in any car...those bugs go anywhere in the snow though.

Chris said...

I've got GPS on my Blackberry and I'm stunned by how quickly I've become dependent on it. I have literally been driving to a location in SoCal with NO IDEA where it was or where I was going. I was at the mercy of "Tele-nag", as I call her.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Bridgete that is hilarious, just like that scene in Clueless but without the screaming haha. Have you goten on the highways here yet? Route 1 is fun for steeling your nerve, 128 at rush hour is good too :-) But although they are bad I challenge anyone to "learn to drive" by getting on Long Island parkways -- now that is some scary driving!

Driver's ed taught me how to drive on Mass Ave in heavy traffic & I got my license driving their car because both Mom & Dad's vehicles were stick shift & I never mastered it. Sometimes its nice to be passed off to someone else lol. I think I can safely say that I will never get a GPS unit though, Matt is my GPS haha.

Karen said...

When we were kids we'd take turns each Sunday driving home from church. We'd sit next to Dad and steer... we thought it was great! Nice story... I really enjoyed reading this :)

Bridgete said...

Yeah, I've been on the highways here. I've been on 93 between Quincy and various places south of Quincy quite a bit, which really isn't bad...although getting back into Quincy is sometimes entertaining if it's the wrong time of day. But, when heading to my interview at Raytheon my iPhone sent me on an oddly roundabout way...instead of sending me down 93 to 95, it sent me up to the Mass pike then to 95. This was at about 9 am. That was

During the interview someone asked me where I lived and I told them and they said, "oh, so you would go down 93 to 95, that's not bad." and I just kind of nodded and said, "sure..." then decided to try the reverse on the way home. Much better. Especially since there are no tolls that way. =)

Anyway, I don't find the highway driving all that bad least, being used to highway driving. It's a lot like in Washington (state), which I'm used to since my best friend went to school near Seattle. Washington drivers have pretty terrible highway etiquette, at least compared to the generally polite highway driving in Oregon. Anyway, it's actually the in-town driving that is a bit more terrifying as compared to Portland...people make a lot of sudden moves around here. And run a lot of lights. I've had to retrain myself to do a quick check when the light turns green. That was not necessary in Portland, you could just go.