Friday, March 22, 2013

Maxine Overdrive: Sequel

Today I think I will continue some of the stories of Maxine's adventures in driving. Maxine Overdrive  It seems a lot of my Facebook friends, especially those who knew her, have enjoyed Maxine stories, so I will do a few more.

Maxine and car...but looks like she was not the driver.

By the time we moved to Ohio when I was thirteen...Maxine had given up driving (after getting the car stuck on the big rock).   She did not drive for many years.  After my father's first heart attack he  encouraged mother to get a learner's permit.  He knew she needed to be able to drive if something happened to him.  She had many learner's permits.  Each time the real driver's test came, Maxine would freeze and refuse to do it.  She took a driver's lesson course and prided herself that her reflexes were better than the teenagers in her class.  She always got 100% on the written tests, but when it came to getting in the car for the driving part...she just couldn't do it.

 Since I had a small VW Dasher that was the right size for her to maneuver the city streets I would often take her on her practice drives.  It made me a bit nervous that she liked to drive the freeways.... "Because there were not stop lights . Stop lights are too confusing. Especially when they have arrows," she would say.

 Once, driving down Kenwood Blvd in Toledo...going a little too fast for my comfort level...she turned to me and said, "Did you see that bird on that sidewalk just sitting there?  It had a huge yellow beak and its tail looked way too long for its body, and I have never seen such colors of red, black and white in that size of a bird..."

"Watch the road, watch the road," was all I could squeak out as my grip on the handhold was stopping my circulation and my right foot searched for the nonexistent  brake.  How could she see all those details on a bird?  She wasn't the passenger...she was the driver!!!

My father was known for his patience.  He was determined that Maxine would get her driver's license.  He had made poles for parallel parking practice...just like the kind they would use for her test.  We decided to practice in the parking lot of a school one Sunday.  He would drive in his car carrying the poles and Maxine and I would follow in the Dasher...she would drive...and then use my car for parking practice.  We were following my dad...Maxine was doing great...not too close...I was feeling good.  Dad put on his turning signal to turn left and slowed down.  Maxine kept driving...did not slow down. 

"Slow down, he's turning...slow down...slow...STOP!"  (It is really difficult to calmly tell someone to stop in fear of getting her upset....I voice was....BOOM!!! )  We smacked into my dad's car pushing it into the parking lot as Maxine took the corner on what felt like two wheels.  She did an abrupt stop inches from his car.

He jumps out of his car, checks for damage. I'm out of the car before she puts it in park...shaking, but glad there was no big damage and we all survived.  What I could not believe was listening to my dad.

"Maxine, it's was my fault...I should have turned faster."   So, the lesson of when you ram into the back of the car in front of you it is your fault lesson was lost.

Once she got brave and tried the driving part of the test.  I knew when she stormed from the parking lot ahead of the officer that she had failed it.  "He knew all along I was not going to pass," she said. "When I hit the curb trying to parallel park I asked him if I could go around the block and try again....and he said to me, 'ma'm, it's not going to help, you failed it back at the first light.'"

There are many more incidents...but she finally got her license after my father died.  She was 67.  It took a few times...but with the help of family and friends she finally succeeded.

Maxine and Mort (I don't have a picture of her driving)


  1. This piece is too funny! The way you tell the story about the bird and about running into the back of your dad's car had me rolling. I didn't think anything could be worse than teaching my teenage sons to drive, but maybe… Hilarious! And really well told!

  2. In spite of her difficulties, Maxine showed such courage in finally getting her license. I suspect reading this story is much funnier than having experienced it firsthand. I hope I survive my teenager's learning to drive.

  3. This story reminds me of my grandmother, who didn't get her license until late in life, either! I'm amazed how long Maxine stuck with it. Gives me hope that one day, I'll get my license for that pretty little motorcycle hubby gave me almost a decade ago. If I could only remember where to put the key...

  4. You are such a great writer....and the love and sense of humor that got you through all those driving lessons with Maxine shines through. I got my license at 32... And I still don't drive the highway! Sigh....

    1. Thank you, Tara. I wish I could write in my mother's voice though...but I guess I need to be satisfied with mine.

  5. Teaching teenagers to drive comes with many challenges, but I'm guessing teaching an adult comes with even more! Once again, I felt like I was right there in the backseat as you gave your mom tips and suggestions. I could see her looking at the bird instead of the road and failing to slow down as your dad turned. I'm glad she finally accomplished her goal. What a story!