As a kid, I was in a car accident. In true Texas fashion, my brother, sister and I were all piled in the cab of my Dad’s truck, headed to the department store where my Mom worked to visit her on her break. All I remember is tires screeching, metal crunching, and all of us being thrown over to the driver’s side as we skidded off into a ditch. We only had some minor bumps and bruises, but as a result, I was terrified of learning to drive.
I was almost eighteen when my older brother and sister took it upon themselves to have a heart to heart with me—the gist of which was that I needed to cut this crap out and get behind the wheel. Where I grew up, being able to drive was a necessity since there were miles of hills and highways between everything and no public transportation.
That’s how it came to be that my siblings spent their weekends home from college teaching me to drive.
My sister, now a cop, was focused on making sure I knew the rules of the road. We spent many hours perfecting turns, pulling into and out of parking places, and studying the driver’s handbook. (As a result, I can parallel park any car, anywhere. Thanks, Sis!)
My brother, David, on the other hand, wasn’t so interested in the rules. He wanted me to be confident, independent, and able to think on my feet (or, in this case, behind the wheel). His approach was all about problem solving and scenarios. He would say, “What if the road was slick and you needed to stop? What if you had to make a U-turn? If you needed to pass a large truck, what would you need to do first? What if you wanted to make a left turn? What if a school bus stopped in front of you?”
One day, David took me out on a remote stretch of road. The county was building a loop around the city we lived in, but it hadn’t yet connected this piece of newly asphalted road with anything else. It was practically deserted.
David was patiently giving me instructions, asking me questions and critiquing my performance. As I drove down the road, a small plane landed right in front of us. My knuckles turned white as I gripped the wheel. He quietly told me to pull over. I blurted out, “But that plane doesn’t belong here!”
He reassured me that since the plane was bigger than we were, it had the right-of-way. The plane doubled back, turning right in front of us, until it came to an awkward, screeching stop.
We sat there, partly because we were blocked by the plane, partly because we were so surprised. Emergency lights came on and the local Sheriff came up to the driver’s side window of our car. He told us the plane was short on fuel and had radioed in distress. He told us to go on home so they could “figure out how to get that thing out of here.” My brother leaned forward and said, “Yes, sir.”
David just looked at me and said, “You don’t have to worry about practicing this particular procedure, because this will probably never happen to you again.”
Thankfully, he was right.
Yet, while I never have experienced this particular scenario again, I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I continue to use almost every day:
- There are many types of people in the world, even in our own family. I am truly thankful for that,
- Some things in life, like a plane landing on a rural road in the middle of a driving lesson, just can’t be planned for.
- Some things should be planned for, like having enough fuel to reach your destination.
- It’s important to know when you need to call for help, like when you are out of fuel.
- Sometimes fear can stop you in your tracks, but when you have a goal, it is important to keep after it. It doesn’t hurt to have people you trust and who believe in you by your side.
Yes, I had more lessons and I learned to drive, but not that day…That day we went home with a great story to tell and with a new perspective on the fear that had stopped me before. After all, a plane landed right in front of me, so parallel parking would be a breeze, right?!
If you’re currently experiencing a situation where you’re wondering if you have enough gas to get to where you want to go or you feel your hands are gripping the steering wheel so tightly you can’t discern your next move, let’s talk. I save room in my schedule each week for free 20-minute sample sessions, and I’d be honored to play a role in helping you get to your destination.