Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Lesson

“I’ve been learning to drive my whole life.” – Arcade Fire, “In the Back Seat”

I want to obtain a driver’s license before my five-hour class expires for a third time and, since I haven’t practiced the art of driving a vehicle in several months, I set out to find a superior driving instructor. All of the driving schools back home charged $90-120 a lesson, but here I can get a lesson for $50-60. And how many lessons can I possibly need? I’ve been practicing since I was seventeen years old and sometimes I can even parallel park.

I set an appointment at eight in the morning on a Wednesday to ensure that the lesson would not conflict with my work. At six in the morning I dragged myself out of bed, got ready for work, and went outside clad in an over-sized polo and nametag to meet my instructor.

Unless my instructor was a fourteen-year-old boy in a backpack, a middle-aged man with a lawnmower, or a sentient parked vehicle eager to impart its wisdom, there was no driving instructor to be seen. I checked the mail. I gazed into the eyes of the figure of a plastic owl in a nearby tree. I waited. No instructor.

I went back inside and tried to call the driving school to no avail. It seemed safe to assume that there would be no driving lesson and I was free to waste the next hour per usual. I checked my e-mail. I ate a bowl of delicious lentils. I read a passage of Lolita.

Suddenly the phone rang. I picked it up.

“Hi, Brittany? I’m outside of the country club but I can’t seem to find your house.”

It was the instructor. From this first sentence, I believed she might be more neurotic than I am. I wondered if she was like that all the time or only when losing a potential customer.

“I don’t think I live near a country club,” I explained. “I’m near a cluster of Chinese take-out restaurants.”

“Oh, I don’t know where that is. I looked your address up on MapQuest and I just can’t seem to find your house, but I’m really close.”

“You used MapQuest? Actually, I have to leave for work really soon. It’s been forty minutes and I assumed you weren’t coming…”

“No, I’m coming! I’m really close now,” she said.

“I work at nine-thirty…”

“Well, maybe we could go for a half hour?”

I considered.

“Would a shorter lesson cost less than an hour?”

“Oh, yeah, you only pay for how much time we drive. So we’ll just go for forty minutes and I’ll drop you off at wherever you work.”

“I think I’d rather just reschedule.”

“But I’m so close!”

And then the call dropped. Now I’m reconsidering whether I want to reschedule my lesson with this instructor. The last thing I need is another neurotic person in the car. And do I really want to take lessons from someone who talks on their cell phone while driving? Reflecting on this morning, I'm rather happy that I didn't spend the fifty dollars.

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