Learning to Drive

As our daughter’s 15th birthday approaches, so does the excitement about the driver’s learner permit. Yes, it’s exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking at the same time.

It’s a lot more difficult to get a driver’s license now than it was when I was a teenager. Our daughter doesn’t even have her permit yet, and we’ve already had to jump through some hoops.

In North Carolina, there are lots of moving parts to getting a learner’s permit. If no one tells you the different steps, it can be rather confusing. I’ve had to ask multiple people a million questions throughout the process, so hopefully, this will help some of you. This has been our process:

  • Register for Driver’s Education at age 14 1/2, if it isn’t offered in your school. (see bottom of page for contact info for three companies)
  • Send in payment for course.
  • Attend course and pass written driver’s ed test.
  • Go to the DMV for the eye test (if the company doesn’t offer it)
  • Schedule the driving portion of Driver’s Ed.
  • Complete the practice driving (six hours) with instructor.
  • Obtain proof of enrollment form from school.
  • Go to DMV on or after 15th birthday for written test and permit…take birth certificate, form from school, completed Driver’s Ed form, and Social Security card.

If I didn’t have friends who reminded me of things to do throughout the process, my poor daughter probably wouldn’t be on her way to getting her permit in a couple of weeks.

She completed the classroom/written test portion of Driver’s Ed the first week of June, getting it out of the way. She had to be 14 1/2 to enroll in the course. We then had to wait till about a month before her birthday to schedule the driving portion of the course. She had the first of two three-hour sessions this past Saturday, and she said everything went smoothly.

Anyone who has ridden with a new driver knows it can be nerve-wracking, but the only way to learn is through practice.

When the instructor arrived at our house, she told me that she usually stays in the neighborhood for the first two hours, and she never takes anyone on the highway in their first session. I wasn’t worried. I knew our daughter was in good hands, so I was very relaxed while they were gone. Plus, my daughter has practiced driving me around on private roads for months.I knew she would do well driving the instructor in the neighborhood.

When my daughter got home three hours later, she said she thought she had done very well, and she did go on the highway. She said that after they drove around the neighborhood a couple of times, the instructor said she was ready to get out on the open road. First, they practiced some parking skills at a nearby parking lot, and then they got in the interstate! Yikes! I love interstate driving, but some people hate it. I asked my daughter what she thought of it, and she said she liked it. Near the end of the lesson, they drove to pick up the next student driver and came home. She has her next session this weekend.

I’m excited for her, and nervous for us. I remember when I was learning to drive. It was exciting thinking about the freedom that was coming my way! I’m sure she feels the same way, but first, we have to make sure she knows what she’s doing. We have a year to help her practice to get her prepared.

It was a lot easier when I as a teenager. We took Driver’s Ed at school, and then when we turned 15, we could test for our learner’s permit. That was it. I don’t even think we had to show any proof that we had taken Driver’s Ed. But Driver’s Ed at school was fun. We had driving simulators. They were nothing like real driving, but they were fun!

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LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

I remember some of the driving mistakes I made early on when I was learning to drive. My poor Daddy. Our house was at the top of a hill, so if you backed out of our driveway in one direction, you were backing a little downhill on the road. One day, with my daddy in the car, I forgot to put the car into Drive after backing out, and I stepped on the gas pedal, sending us speeding down the hill backward! Somehow, Daddy stayed calm, and I got things under control. He probably never wanted to drive with me again, but he did. Another time, I stepped on the gas instead of the brake as we turned into a street. And somehow, we survived it.

I’m sure when Daddy was teaching my brother to drive, it was much less stressful for him. My parents had caught my brother driving a friend’s car when he was just 14, so there’s no telling how much driving experience he really had when he got his permit. It wasn’t funny at the time, but Daddy laughed about it years later.

Later, after I had my license, he taught me to drive a manual transmission on a Jeep we had…another adventure, but not one my daughter is likely to have, since so few manual transmission cars are made now.

So our adventure in driving is about to begin. It’s difficult to believe. I remember when our daughter first started walking, and we said she didn’t have walking around sense. Will we feel the same way about her driving?

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DRIVING SCHOOLS IN CHARLOTTE (I’m only listing companies my friends have used):

Helms Driving School…Website:   http://www.helmsdrivingschool.com/Services.html

Jordan Driving School…Website:   http://www.jordandrivingschoolcharlotte.com

Faulkner Driving School…Website:   http://faulknersdrivingschool.com/about-us.aspx

 

 

 

 

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Keep The Courtesy Wave Alive

Is it possible there are people out there who don’t know what a courtesy wave is? I guess it’s possible. I grew up thinking everyone knew about it and everyone did it, but as time has passed, I’ve come to realize some folks still don’t know. Are we witnessing the slow death of the courtesy wave?

A courtesy wave is a hand wave or gesture a driver or pedestrian offers as an expression of gratitude for a kindness on the road, or as an expression of apology after a mistake.

When I was growing up, courtesy waves were commonplace. Everybody did it, as far as I knew. I remember both my parents being courtesy wavers, and my brother and I became courtesy wavers, as well. It’s just what we do. Or at least that’s what I thought. It seems fewer people offer the courtesy wave these days.

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Last week, when I was driving to school, a man was trying to back out of his driveway into the street, but traffic made it difficult for him. I stopped so he could get out. He backed out of his driveway and drove away…no courtesy wave. He certainly didn’t owe me anything, since I did it out of the kindness of my heart, but really? I couldn’t believe it! I stopped traffic for him, and he couldn’t just hold up his hand to thank me? That’s like someone holding open a door for you and you don’t say “thank you”! Come on, dude! Just give me the wave!

Another afternoon, I was picking up my child from a crowded place. The car next to me and I allowed a car to pass in front of us, so he could exit. He didn’t even look at us, much less give a courtesy wave. I looked over at the driver of the car next to me and recognized him, so I put down my window and said, “Wow. A courtesy wave would have been nice.” He responded, “I thought the exact same thing!”

But it happens all the time. I think there are way fewer courtesy wavers than there used to be. I don’t get mad, but I often wonder if they know how great the courtesy wave is. Courtesy waves carry a lot of power, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never know. They have the power to make someone feel appreciated; or to apologize; or to offer forgiveness.

I’m an extreme courtesy waver. My courtesy wave is one long continuous wave from different angles…or accompanied by a “thank you” if I’m a pedestrian. I offer that wave in different situations. Here are some examples:

  • If I’m trying to walk into Target, even if I’m in the crosswalk, and you stop to let me cross, I’m giving you a courtesy wave to thank you for your kindness. I’m likely going to smile and actually say, “Thank you!” I appreciate someone letting me cross. That’s how a pedestrian can use the courtesy wave.
  • As a driver, if traffic is backed up in my lane, and you let me over in front of you, you get a giant courtesy wave. In fact, chances are I will roll down my window and hang out the window to give a big wave with a big smile, and I will likely follow up with another wave over my shoulder and a wave out my sunroof. Like I said, I’m an extreme courtesy waver.
  • A courtesy wave can go a long way in bad situations too. If you cut me off in traffic and keep going, I think, “What?!?!” But if you offer a courtesy wave after, I simmer down. That courtesy wave means, to me, that you are apologizing for making that mistake. And I even give the courtesy wave of forgiveness in return. At the same time, if I accidentally cut someone off, I raise my hand for that courtesy wave as quickly as possible.

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I understand frustration in traffic. There are lots of things I dislike about driving: slow drivers in the left lane, drivers who fail to yield the right of way, people who change lanes without looking, and more, but a lot of those things can be forgiven with a courtesy wave. Sometimes slow drivers don’t realize they need to get over, but if they give me a quick wave and move over after I pass them on the right (ugh…if I’m having to pass you on the right, you’re doing it wrong), all is forgiven. I know they don’t care if I forgive them or not, but it’s civility.

Civility is good, and courtesy waves are part of that. I refuse to believe this gesture is dying. I choose to believe it is alive and well, but some folks just don’t know about it yet. Spread the word, friends…courtesy waves are powerful. They aren’t required, but they are appreciated.

***Thank you for reading Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things. If you enjoy my blog, please go “LIKE” it on Facebook.***

 

 

 

 

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Cruisin’ The Highway With The 80s

I love Sirius XM Radio. And I especially love a channel called 80s on 8. It plays the music of my teenage years. Most of the time, when I’m in my car, I have a teenage daughter in the car with me, and she plays her music. Yeah…sometimes I pull rank and tell her she has to listen to my music in my car, but most of the time, I don’t care.

But when I’m in the car alone, it’s all 80s, all the time. Seriously…SiriusXM is one of my favorite things. If you don’t have Sirius XM Radio in your car or in your home, you’re missing out. You can see their website for more information here.

Last week, I drove to Duluth, Georgia, from Charlotte, NC, for a Harry Styles concert. Originally, my friend, Mary Ann, was taking her 8-yr-old daughter, but the daughter decided she had “outgrown” Harry Styles, so I went. I offered to purchase two extra tickets for my 14-yr-old daughter and a friend, but they didn’t want to go. (Now she wishes she had gone.)

That meant I got to drive to Duluth alone. It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive. I’m rarely alone for 3 1/2 hours. I left Charlotte around noon Monday. It took me about 20 minutes to get from my house to I-85 South, but when I hit the interstate, I was ready for some of my tunes…the tunes I never get to listen to in my own car.

I could say I listened calmly all the way to Georgia, but I’d be lying. I was so excited to get to listen to 80s music for a few hours. I pretended I was a teenager again. The songs on the 80s on 8 channel are introduced by the original MTV VJs, so it’s easy to feel like I’m reliving my youth. Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter introduced and gave me the background on songs on my whole drive. Martha Quinn chimed in every now and then with some trivia. I cranked up the tunes and opened the sunroof. In the first two hours, I was transported back in time with tunes from Loverboy, Van Halen, Rick Springfield, Madonna, Def Leppard, and J Geils Band, to name a few.

I’m sure a few truckers were entertained as this crazy 51-yr-old lady drove past with the radio blaring through the open sunroof. Maybe I shouldn’t mention I was singing along as much as I could. That means I was probably singing a lot of “misheard lyrics.” I’ve never been good with lyrics. I’m the person who, at the age of nine in 1976, thought the Eagles sang, “He was two-timing naked; she was too tired to fight about it,” in Life In The Fast Lane. How did a nine-yr-old come up with that?! The actual line is, “He was too tired to make it; she was too tired to fight about it.” Either way makes sense, though. Someone could have been two-timing naked.

There are some song lyrics I definitely know, but I’ve always had trouble with the lyrics to songs by the Gogos. Somehow, they just don’t enunciate clearly in their songs, so I end up making up a lot of lyrics…or humming along. I recently saw a book titled, “Hum If You Don’t Know The Words,” and I loved that title, because I do that a lot with songs. My daughter hates it.

But I knew the words to Lovin’ Every Minute of It (Loverboy), Material Girl (Madonna), Jesse’s Girl (Rick Springfield), Panama (Van Halen), and Love Stinks (J Geils Band), so I sang along, and I sang loudly.

When some of the songs came on, I laughed or smiled, because I remembered some story that went along with the song…something that had happened in high school or college. Any Duran Duran song makes me immediately think of my friend, Jill, from high school. The girl was obsessed with Duran Duran, and for good reason…they were an awesome band. Even my daughter and her friends like them now; in fact, tonight, one friend wanted to hear Union of the Snake while we were going to Target. Duran Duran videos were all the rage on MTV. I remember rushing home to watch the world premier of the video for The Reflex. Ooh…and Michael Jackson videos…we all went crazy over those too. Back in the 80s, Jill and I even had MTV t-shirts before everyone else. Her mother worked at the local cable company, and she had access to MTV paraphernalia when other people didn’t. I wore mine till it was threadbare. And don’t we all remember the slogan, “I want my MTV!” Lots of those t-shirts could be seen all over the US in the 80s.

 

Listening to those VJs also reminded me of how much I wanted to be a VJ when I was a teenager…a funny thought, because I have limited music knowledge. I guess I thought I’d grow up, get an audition, and once I got the gig, I’d meet every rock star who came through the MTV studios. You have to admit, though, it would have been fun. Of course, MTV already had a southern VJ, as Alan Hunter is from Birmingham. But Martha Quinn had it going on…boys wanted to date her, and girls wanted to be her. She seemed like a nice girl who could actually be your friend, and she had the coolest job ever.

As I arrived at the hotel, Milli Vanilli came on. The song? Baby, Don’t Forget My Number. I love that song. In fact, I loved Milli Vanilli. Yes, there was the scandal. I guess those two guys were just pretty faces, but I sure liked watching those pretty faces on the video. Sadly, Milli Vanilli fell apart after the lip-sync scandal broke. I have no idea who was actually singing on those songs, but I like Baby, Don’t Forget My Number; Blame It On The Rain; and Girl You Know It’s True. When I think of Milli Vanilli, I think of my friends, Chris and Susan, from college. I introduced them to each other, and they later married. They really liked Milli Vanilli.

So I got to Duluth safe and sound that afternoon and met Mary Ann at the hotel. We met my other friend, Meredith, and her daughter at the arena, and a good time was had by all. I knew a few of the songs Harry Styles sang, and I faked it on the others. I have to admit it was a good show. It was pretty tame, aside from the screaming, but he is quite the entertainer, and he seems to enjoy what he’s doing. He was also grateful to the fans. I like performers who seem genuinely grateful. Plus, he’s kind of dreamy looking, even if I am old enough to be his mother.

 

After the concert, Mary Ann and I tried to go to Waffle House, but it was too crowded. We ended up, instead, at a place called Georgia Diner on Pleasant Hill Road. We weren’t expecting much, but we were pleasantly surprised. The service was outstanding, and the servers were very personable. The food was really good…Mary Ann had an omelet, and I had the Ste. Marie Chicken…delicious. I strolled over to look in the dessert case, and the cakes looked incredible, but swimsuit season is here, so I didn’t get any cake. You can see their website and menu here.

We went back to the hotel and slept a few hours before I headed back to Charlotte. It was time for some 80s tunes again, and I loved every minute of it. If only they had played some Bobby Brown; then, my 80s journey would have been complete for the day. And maybe some New Kids On The Block. I liked them too, back in the day, even though I was really too old to like them.

The 80s were a great decade. MTV actually played music. We made mix-tapes. We passed notes in class. The Rubix Cube came along. Arcades were awesome gathering places. John Hughes films echoed the lives of teens everywhere.

My daughter said to me the other day, “I wish I had lived in the 80s.” I told her it was certainly a great decade, but then said, “But you are living in a great time. We didn’t have cellphones or laptops back then, and you couldn’t rewind TV shows with the DVR. If you missed a line, you just missed it.” She nodded, but I could tell she still thought the 80s were great.

This decade is great too, but still…I WANT MY MTV!