The Invisible Brake

I am sure that as every teenager passes into that realm of being a responsible adult by learning how to drive every last one of us….we have driven with our parents.

I am unsure if when a father teaches his daughter or son that the same things occur when a mother teaches the same children to drive. I will actually never know. My mom taught me how to drive. Kinda. I mean, because of her, I learned how to drive a standard. The rest of it, I learned in an automatic. Most cars I drove were automatics because well my mom did not trust me enough to let me drive her car.

When I was 14 we took a trip down to Texas. My mom allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat in a McDonald’s parking lot and practice shifting gears. Totally awesome right. I am one of those summer babies. So while all my friends hit their landmarks in school, I hit them all before the next school year started. (Try being the only 17 year old in your group of friends graduating, sober, boring and watching everyone else have a grand time) PSA Drinking does not lead one to have a good time. But in moderation and with good friends, it can enliven an evening and make for good memories.

So while all my friends were getting their driver’s license’s I was held back by my age restraint. And than the fact that the first time I went for my driver’s test, my brake lights did not work, second time I failed everything but the parallel parking aspect and third time is the charm. Got my license.

Alright, I have my license. Hey I even had a job. I was well on my way to becoming a responsible and active adult member of society. But mom, well mom had some issues.

The first time we drove together after I got my beginner’s was in the Kmart parking lot near our home. There was a lot of shouting. It was a Sunday. (This was before Sunday shopping was a thing, so the parking lot was empty.) I stalled a lot. Do you know, that really to shift gears is so easy, 20, 40, 60 and 80 and 100. Learned that from a boyfriend. Prob only good thing cause I don’t recall his name.

Mom yelled. I slammed on brakes. A lot. Not the invisible one. The real one. I stalled. She drove home.

Which leads me to this recollection.

One Friday evening mom is going out with the girl friends. I am going to babysit for one of them. Mom decides that I should drive from one end of the city to the other. Back in my day it would take about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending on how I hit the lights. Today, it would take us close to an hour and a half.

Hyundai Pony. A blondish gold color. Very basic. Had the radio on to my station. Yes, mom allowed me to have my radio station on. She sat in the passenger seat which underneath the glove box had a shelf that held the interior warmer. This is an item that you have when you live in Manitoba.  One plugs it in along side their regular block heater. This one though kinds takes the chill outta getting into a car in -40 degree celsisus weather.

The drive from home to the downtown area of Winnipeg is uneventful. It is twilight and I have made most of the lights so it has been clear sailing. Part of my route is a known route for it is the way we drive to my grandparents every week. Mom and me we are talking. Laughing. Having one of those really rare mother daughter (when she is a teenager) moments. Where all the animosity, the ‘you know nothing attitude’ the exasperation because well how do you understand a daughter who is nothing like you? That night mom and me, we were in a groove.

We are driving up Donald Avenue. This area is center downtown Winnipeg. It is a bus route. It is Friday night approximately 7ish in the evening. Traffic is enough to make mom a little nervous. So we are cruising along. I am doing all the right things. I am, for one, in the damn lane I need to be in. Two, I am watching all angles of traffic…..including the buses to the right of me. And yes, I am aware that the bus has it’s flasher on. Yes mother I am aware, I am watching.

Well mom had very little faith in my ability to gauge traffic. To this day she still grabs the door handle if she thinks I might be about to kill us all. First she says ‘Jay, watch out.’ I look at her and say nothing. (From the corner of my eye) ‘Jay-lyn do you see that bus?’ I glance at her and return my concentration to the road. Please note, the bus is 50 feet in front of me, edging out and I have already taken my foot off the gas because a) my depth perception is a little off and would rather be safe than sorry b) mom is starting to panic.

The bus swings out into my lane. There is more than enough room to spare. I am no where near crashing into and killing not only ourselves but the bus riders. Mom shrieks. I look at her in dismay. Radio is playing Bon Jovi. And mom slams on her invisible brake.

Her invisible brake? The shelf that held the interior warmer. She slammed her foot into that shelf like it was going to bring the car to a complete and utter halt. My head whips around and in a split second I gape at her than return my attention to the road. The bus soars off into the distance and four cars are able to slide into the gap.

I glide to a stop at the red light. And my head swivels to look at mom. Mom stares back at me. I cannot even ask the question. But I do. ‘Mom what do you not trust me?’

Mom looks at the the shelf. She looks at me. (and this is poetic license)

‘Onward Jeeves.’

**If memory serves I think there was a lot of giggling and accusations shouted in fun. I demanding to know if she didn’t trust my driving skills or what? And her defending her actions……’but that bus was soooooo close.’**

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Author: Jay-lyn Doerksen

I am a single hard working mom in her early 40's. I have always written poetry and I love words. A self confessed obsessive book worm I live for my son and my down time to read. I have a vast array of friends and cohorts who I will be writing about. I hope I can make people laugh or cry; be thoughtful and understanding. And I need to write so this will be my voice.

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