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The freedom of your first car

It’s strange how sometimes a casual comment can evoke memories.

On the weekend, I was doing some shopping and I heard a young lady enthusing to a couple of friends about her first solo drive in her first car.

She was not talking about ripping through the downtown streets at 120 or anything like that. She was just talking about how good it felt to be by herself, no driving instructor or examiner, no parent beside her giving tips.

One of her friends had obviously already had the same experience, since she was smiling a bit listening to her friend. The other one seemed a little more taken by the description of the experience, so I suspect she had not had that feeling of freedom.

As I drove home a few minutes later, my mind went back to that conversation. I hadn’t been eavesdropping and the young woman hadn’t been talking overly loud, but it was just one of those conversations you happen to catch every day.

When I got home, I thought back to my first experience driving my own first vehicle by myself.

It was a used Plymouth Arrow which I had bought used from a salesperson who was a friend of the family. I liked the car when I took it for a test drive, and Dad and Mom and I decided we would make an offer on it. Dad suggested a price to offer, and the salesman accepted it.

As we signed the papers, he said with a smile, “I bet that offer was your Dad’s idea.”

I had to agree. Dad had come with me, but I did all the ‘negotiating’. We drove home, with me enjoying the feel of my first vehicle.

After being at home for a while, the need to take it for a real drive was too much. I hopped in and drove east on Fifth Avenue towards Highway 16, feeling like the king of the world in my new chariot.

I came to the lights at the highway and stopped. A semi-trailer unit pulled up on my right, and then a chip truck pulled up on my left.

The Plymouth Arrow was not a large car, to put it mildly, and the large trucks on each side meant the sun sort of disappeared from my view.

All of a sudden I felt less like a king in his chariot and more like a young man in a small car, hoping there wouldn’t be a big wind knocking one of the trucks over.

It reminded me, on my very first trip in my own vehicle, that I was not the owner of the world, and that I shouldn’t drive as if I was.

It wasn’t a bad lesson to learn early in my driving career.