Living in Fear of Parked Cars

Dear Will:

Consider yourself warned: My son Luke (15) has started to drive. Like any rational being, I face this prospect with dread and foreboding. And with good reason:

  1. I was 15 once. I remember what a good driver I was when I had a learner’s permit . . . or even a year later when I had a driver’s license for that matter. I vaguely recall running over curbs and bashing in some guy’s passenger side door. (All right, I admit it: I vividly recall those humiliations.) After failing my first driver test, I passed the second time by the thinnest of margins—and the evaluator told me he regretted that he had to give me a passing score. I was a danger to anyone near a paved road in the San Gabriel Valley. You should feel lucky to have lived through it.
  2. I’ve spoken to my insurance company. My premiums are going to go up a couple of grand about six months from now. The alternative is to buy an old junker, cover it for liability only, and put Luke on the vehicle instead. Know anybody with a $2,000 car that runs great?

I now find myself a passenger in my own car, which I hate. It takes much longer to get anywhere now that the driver is often going below the speed limit. And don’t get me wrong: Luke is turning out to be a genuinely OK driver, but there’s something about his tendency to drift to the right (where all of the cars are parked) that for some reason makes it hard for me to relax and enjoy the ride. He also hasn’t yet mastered the art of checking his mirrors and blind-spot before switching lanes—let’s just say it keeps me alert.

I’m sure that the day will come when I am thrilled that he can drive himself to jiu-jitsu and early morning Seminary (hooray!), but in the interim my beard is growing grayer by the day. I would anticipate my hair falling out in clumps had it not all fallen out in clumps on its own several years ago.

I can’t help but wonder if my state of unease (and occasional terror) is in any way akin to what our Heavenly Father must feel as He watches us career through life with little regard for the basic rules of the road. Wouldn’t we all just love for Him to simply take the wheel and deliver us where He wants us to go? But alas, it doesn’t work that way, does it? We must find our own way, mastering the skills required to navigate the roads of life on our own—come what may.

Perhaps that analogy is a bit hokey, but you can’t blame me for having a heightened awareness of an imminent afterlife. After all, now that I’m in the passenger seat there isn’t much separating me from those parked cars over on Hewes Avenue!


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