Being a driving instructor is exciting and fun….seriously
I love my job as a driving instructor. I enjoy meeting people and spending time with people. I enjoy showing others how to improve their ability as a driver. There are many people who have told me they aren’t patient enough to teach someone how to drive. I think it’s fun, but every now and then, something happens that makes me shake my head.
Many years ago I had a student who had never driven before. She was 18 years old and lived her entire life inCanada. On her first lesson when it was her turn to get into the driver’s side of the vehicle, she was a little confused how to enter the vehicle. She was used to putting in her left leg first to sit down on the passenger side. I suggested that she put her butt in the car first and then swing her legs in after. This would also save the twisting of her back. At the conclusion of the lesson while in her driveway, she thought; butt in first, butt out first. She ended up falling out of my car with her legs still in my car! It took all of my strength not to laugh…until I was down the street of course.
While I was teaching in the car one day, my student mistakenly hit the fuse box, which was located near the floor by her left foot. This caused the turn signals to stop working. Since we were on a busy road in the left lane, I asked her to stick her arm straight out the window to indicate to the driver behind that we were making a left turn. Immediately after our turn, we noticed a vehicle directly behind us. I asked my student to signal right so they would know we were pulling to the curb. Instead of bending her left arm upwards and holding it outside her window, she used her right arm straight across the seating area and hit me in the face. Luckily the bruise didn’t last long.
Teaching anything to anyone is all about communicating effectively. Teaching someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you do, or at least as well as you do, can be difficult. I had a student who didn’t speak English very well. She and I were driving along a road that had a “Watch for FALLEN rocks” sign. I had asked her to “watch for FALLING rocks. She immediately started to look up toward her right. Since we tend to go to where we look, the vehicle started to drift toward the rock wall on our right. That was when I learned the lesson to say exactly what I meant; watch for FALLEN rocks, not FALLING rocks.
I also learned to avoid saying things like; “Turn left right here”, “Go ahead and back up” and “Put yourself in reverse”. They were often confusing to someone whose first language was not English.
I’ve also taught some famous people over the years; Steve Smith (The Red Green Show), Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Johnny Miller (professional golfer) and race car driver Jackie Stewart. Okay, the people I taught weren’t the famous ones, but maybe one day they will be famous in their own way.
The longest I had someone as a student was over two years. She spent thousands of dollars on driving lessons, but never got her license. For the first 10 to 15 minutes of each lesson, she had to know how my weekend was, how my day was going and what I was planning for the upcoming weekend. It was more of a social event for her. I didn’t mind after awhile as she brought me cookies from time to time. She was so comfortable with me that she wanted to come to my wedding and since she also lived in the same neighbourhood as my grandmother, she ended up meeting her and having tea with her on occasion.
I also had a few seniors as students. One in particular was 72 years of age and was learning to drive for the first time. Her husband was getting too ill to drive. Since she was so much older than most people who were learning to drive, she felt some peer pressure from her neighbours and friends. To reduce the peer pressure, she met me at the end of her street for every lesson; never her home. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or a windy day, she was always there and on time. When she passed her road test on the first attempt, I offered to take her home. She said she didn’t want anyone to know she learned to drive at this age. I then offered the take off the signs from my vehicle that said “Young Drivers of Canada”. She then agreed.
When we got to her house, her neighbour was outside and had a surprised look on their face as they saw me, a young looking man in his 20’s with someone old enough to be my grandmother. When I saw the embarrassed look on my student’s face, I yelled across the yard to her neighbour; “It’s ok. I’m her boyfriend.” The shock on her neighbour’s face was enough to make both my student and I smile and laugh.
So, whoever said that being a driving instructor was a difficult and scary job was wrong. It can also be a laugh a minute.