Am I There Yet?

Adaora Ede, Editor in Chief

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In light of probably more important social (specifically political events), I am here to bring another issue to light: the terrible plight of the young adults in the midst of learning how to drive.

I’ve already gone through all the steps: I got my permit through a close one-question margin, did a few non-recorded hours, suffered through two very long weeks of driving school but still, I can’t manage to get my license. On the day that I was originally scheduled to complete my license exam, I skipped out without a notice. Might I note, ‘twas for a good cause- I was helping third graders at Homestead-Wakefield with their times tables. You can’t write a license down on extracurriculars on your Common App!

We live in the United States, known of its nationwide disaster of mass transit. There comes a time in nearly every bushy-tailed, bright-eyed teen’s life where dreams come true- or perhaps crushed by the evils of other racing vehicles on the road-through the magical power of a noncommercial driving license. I say nearly every teen because well, the autonomy of New York or Baltimore or Boston or [INSERT ANY HUB OF CIVILIZATION IN THE UNITED STATES] kids is astounding. In all honesty, I’d much rather learn my way through the expanse of a subway because it’s a feat that involves a striking amount of street smarts.

I’d like to believe that I have a natural cleverness about me, but I manage to forget my locker combination on a daily basis. Quite unfortunately, doing decently academically has failed to translate nicely into real world everyday skills for me. Yeah, I’ve learned how to get my way through grocery shopping and talking on the phone with telemarketers, but sharp turns and parking parallel? No sé, je ne suis pas.

My mother recently picked me up after tutoring one day at the elementary school and I, in an act of bravery, requested that she would allow me to yield the all powerful keys and take our humble steed home. It ended up being not as Arthurian as I’m trying to make it sound because I somehow could not figure out how to navigate the steering wheel to back out of the parking lot. It was smooth sailing from there until I hit a light or stop sign (those brakes were SLAMMED), had to make a turn, was forced to change lanes, or nearly ran over every SUV in the roundabout. Shortly thereafter, my mom sat herself down in her comfy chair and ordered a Student Driver decal on Amazon Prime.

Everything I write about ends up becoming at least somewhat politicized, so there is a point that I do have to make about teen driving. Living in Bel Air, it seems that some teenagers have been enabled by I feel embarrassed by the fact that I can’t drive and get anywhere around the town I live in, not only for the fact that most everyone I know already has a car or has someone who goes to our school drive them around. We’ve, in turn, bred a bit of a pseudo-bourgie culture. Capitalist greed is a forever existing quality, of course, but it hurts a little more when it’s being prolonged by kids whose parents will buy them the biggest, shiniest car in the dealership as soon as they hit the big sixteen and six months.  It’s not fun being the only senior on the school bus. I’m baffled by the fact that I even want a car now- I’d feel so guilty knowing that my parents, who won’t let me get a job, will be taking money out of their pockets to fund thousands of dollars of gas money, insurance, repairs, and the car itself. I don’t think I’ve asked for a Christmas gift worth more than two hundred bucks so the guilt (and the side-eyes my mom’s about to be giving me when I park a little lopsided next to her Corolla) will be a little overbearing.

Maybe abject pessimism isn’t exactly the best way to address the everyday thing that everyday people do. I mean, at least I haven’t even inserted nihilism into this yet (although I coooould…did you know that drivers between the ages of 16-19 are 3 times more likely to get into a fatal crash?). My point is that driving isn’t as easy as we think it will be for beginners. Let’s not push unprepared teenagers into one thousand pound death machines- ease ‘em into it, give them that experience. You’ll thank them for staying safe.

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Am I There Yet?