My wife thinks I drive too fast. Our younger daughter thinks I drive too slow. Since I am neither a white-knuckled NASCAR wannabe nor a little old man who tootles along in the passing lane with his left blinker on, this means I drive just right.
And I recently proved it by getting an A in an AARP Smart Driver Course.
I took the six-hour online class for one of the following reasons:
(a) To prove my wife and daughter wrong.
(b) To be a safe driver.
(c) To get a discount on my auto insurance.
If you guessed (c), you would be correct, although the first two were factors as well.
I was correct on 94% of the test questions in the course, which fortunately did not require me to get behind the wheel of a used sedan with a driver’s-ed instructor who would probably go into cardiac arrest if he knew I flunked the same road test my older daughter, then 16, passed with flying colors.
But that was an anomaly, which sounds like a foreign car, because I have gotten only two tickets and had just one accident (the other guy’s fault) in more than five decades of driving.
Still, I thought it was a good idea, as an “older driver,” to take a refresher course. This allowed me to sit at my computer and proceed at a leisurely pace, which would have infuriated the driver behind me if I had been in an actual car.
It also allowed me to do things I am not supposed to do while driving — eat, drink and talk on the phone — but which I see plenty of other drivers do, usually while cutting me off and giving me a one-digit salute if I honk my horn at them.
This is the kind of dangerous stuff that Joe and Maria, the hosts of the AARP Smart Driver Course, warn against. And they go to great lengths to emphasize the right and wrong ways to operate a motor vehicle. They also review such basics as wearing a seatbelt, adjusting the mirrors and inspecting the tires.
“Check your fluids,” they add. I think it’s a good idea to check your car’s fluids, too.
But Joe and Maria, who do voiceovers while their photos appear on the screen, aren’t the only people participating in the course. Real-life seniors, including a married couple who argue while trying to figure out a map, appear in several videos.
One guy says, “The last thing I want to do is be a burden to my family, so I am going to keep driving for as long as I can.”
It’s a good thing I’m not in that video because I would have said that being a burden is my goal. And if you ask my family, I achieved it long ago. That’s why I am still driving.
I must say, however, that I got a lot out of the course. Yes, there’s plenty of stuff I already knew, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded about such important things as how to depress the brake. (My guess: Insult it.)
People change as they get older (I changed my socks last week) and not everyone is at the same skill level when it comes to operating a motor vehicle.
Some people shouldn’t be driving at all, especially the idiots who routinely blow through the stop sign in front of my house.
That’s why I’m glad I paid attention through all six hours of the course. It helped me get 117 out of 125 questions right. That’s a score of 94. In other words, I aced it. And I graduated — with a certificate — motor cum laude.
This will impress my wife and daughter. They’re the best backseat drivers I know.
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of seven books. His latest is “The Good Humor Man: Tales of Life, Laughter and, for Dessert, Ice Cream.” Reach him at [email protected] or via jerryzezima.blogspot.com.