This week, Jessica Gould and I took to the mean streets of—-well, of a high school parking lot, where we drove in circles. This may seem like a step down from our conquering of McLean last week, but parking lots are trickier than they sound. For one thing, a father-and-son duo kept tailgating us. They circled the lot, stopped for a 10-minute chat, then did it again. That looked pretty boring to us, but it was a safari adventure compared to the father-and-daughter team who did nothing but sit in a parking space and watch us go around and around.
I have not driven in a high school lot since I “passed” my driving exam ten years ago. There were several elements to the test: a three point turn, the dreaded parallel parking, driving on an actual street, etc. I only completed one—-the “quick stop”—-before my instructor mistakenly signed me off on the entire test. This was a lucky break for me, if not for Florida’s pedestrians, because I had only driven once before. An entire summer of drivers ed, and I completely avoided driving—-opting to stay inside and watch the scary crash videos instead.
Since then, I have scammed friends and relatives into driving me everywhere I wanted to go. Now, I am scamming them into letting me behind the wheel.
This week’s teacher was Beth, who loosed us on the streets of Upper Northwest after our parking-lot antics made her sufficiently dizzy. There, I learned that you should accelerate through curves, because that gives you more control. Drawing upon last week’s lesson, I also made sure to wave to neighbors. But unlike the friendly Virginians, it turns out that D.C. residents don’t wave back. Instead, they avert their eyes—-as if they expect us to roll down the window and ask for spare change.
Additionally, we learned that you don’t have to brake for woodland creatures such as birds. “They get out of your way,” said Beth. “Well, not that one,” she added, as Jessica rolled over a previously-flattened squirrel.
Next week: Jessica spends some time communing with nature while I tackle Mount Pleasant in a Zipcar.
DRIVING LESSON 2
Destination: Upper Northwest
Weather Conditions: Sunny
Lessons Learned: Re-running over roadkill is A-OK.
Sadie: B+. Overcame fear of high schools.
Jessica: B+. Overcame fear of side-mounted car mirrors.