Learning to Drive

My Dad was an excellent driver. The best. He drove public transport buses in Sydney, then Canberra, for 40 years and never once in that time did he have an accident.

He never scratched another vehicle, never received a parking ticket or a speeding ticket. He was a cautious and courteous driver who was well respected amongst his peers.

He kept every car during his life (and he had a few…) in pristine condition. Inside, outside and under the hood. He was a perfectionist.

I remember when I was a kid, my Dad was giving my older brother driving lessons. Needless to say, he imposed extremely high standards.  He expected us all to be impeccable drivers, and learning to drive an automatic was not an option, we had to learn on a manual gearbox.

Dad expected my brother to change gears so smoothly that his passengers didn’t even feel it. To test this, during the driving lessons, my Dad would ride in the backseat and put our black kelpie dog named Snoopy on the front passenger seat.

kelpie

Snoopy would never sit when he rode in a car, he always stood up looking out the window. So Dad would sit in the backseat and watch Snoopy as my brother changed gear.

If Snoopy stumbled, or worse, fell at the gear change, Dad considered that a massive fail and the two men would be cranky with each other for the rest of the day.

If Snoopy stood comfortably during gear changes, Dad was satisfied. Not happy, not proud, just satisfied.  This might sound harsh, but if a perfectionist is satisfied with what you have achieved, you know you’re doing pretty well!

As for Snoopy, he just enjoyed going for a ride in the car!

Stuart Maxwell.

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