2018-03-29 / Viewpoint

Driving woes and advice


Paula Schmidt — Staff Paula Schmidt — Staff Writer’s note: Hopefully haven’t repeated too much from a previous driving column. This was a last minute replacement due to technical difficulties. PKS

Many, many moons ago, when I was in Army Basic Training, I had a drill sergeant, whose name I don’t remember, had a way of telling recruits they were bad at whatever it was they were doing.

For instance, if you didn’t pass the driving test, he would say, “Schmidt!! You are one non-driving individual!” Actually, I was that, because my dad would never take me driving, and driver’s training was nowhere near enough preparation for the real thing.

One of the first things I had to do was pass the driving test—not only in a sedan, but a manual transmission Jeep!! That was a laugh.

But on the other hand, I took to the sedan real well, knocking down only one cone on a pretty difficult course. The instructor was impressed when I told him it was my first time. Following that I finally obtained my license a couple years later, during my second tour of duty as a Combat Medic, assigned to an ambulance unit in Germany.

It was our job was to go out with other units to field exercises and oversee first aid and kitchen set-up. I am not sure what they drive these days, but what we drove those WW II style ambulances, affectionately known as ‘cracker boxes’.

Luckily, a mechanic at the motor pool who had a small crush on me taught me to drive that, and a jeep. As a young adult, I also used to drive in the high sierras of California during winter—snow chains and tires required. Driving is fun when there are no street poles to show you the edge of the road and it’s all just one mass of white.

Far be it from me to assume or imply that I am God’s gift to driving or perfect behind the wheel, but the way some people drive certainly can make you feel good about your own skills—because those morons prove how good you really are.

Driving means you occasionally have to pay attention to more than one thing, like your rearview mirror Writer and the driver coming off the ramp on your right. Even backing up can be a challenge because unlike chameleons, we can only look in one direction at a time.

The thing that annoys me most about other drivers, boils down to one simple mantra: “Pass and Merge”. If you’re not doing one (passing), you should be doing the other.

It’s really annoying to drive behind someone for two miles while they pass a semi at one-half mile an hour faster than the semitruck is going.

Nowadays we also have those handy-dandy left turn lanes. A little advice, if you are about to use one and there is NO oncoming traffic for it, DON’T wait to the last second to get out of the driving lane and into the turn lane. Yes, I know that’s not what the law says— don’t lecture me. Think about the flow of traffic for the love of Mike, people!

Paula Schmidt is a reporter for the View Newspapers. Contact her at 810-452-2647 or email at pschmidt@mihomepaper.com.

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