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Ad-hoc driving school

I'm glad no one can hear me in a car.

Whether I'm in my car (like I was on two trips today*) or in some valet customer's car, I've usually got a running commentary going on. Noting interesting or surprising sights along the way, vocalizing random thoughts of mine, singing or reciting, and critiquing the driving I'm seeing. Sometimes I do so in a resigned, Christian Kane-as-Eliot Spencer-on-Leverage way: "Seriously?" Sometimes I'M MOVED TO YELL, because people may drive badly, or like jerks, or like they're clueless and unaware of their surroundings through which they're hurtling in over a ton of metal and plastic.

And sometimes it's me critiquing myself. "I shouldn't have gone through that light." "I followed too close just then." "I'm too near the left side of the lane; move over slightly."

I noticed this on my first car trip after my first full week of being a valet: I had been, mostly, I think, a careful driver most of my life as a driver; I was being more careful. Taking more precautions, being more aware, and working to make sure I didn't myself and any vehicles in harm's way. I'm also slightly more adventurous as a driver, as valet work introduces me to larger and more varied vehicles and I've been able to drive those too; Oh, I can handle a Ford F-350. (An F-350 is near the upper limit of what, for instance, we can fit in the airport valet's main parking area.) Driving other people's stick shifts, as I sometimes do on this job, can be an adventure: those transmissions can have...variations in how easy or hard they are to drive. (This week we valet'ed a really low-slung sports car. I begged off driving it. One of the younger drivers practically jumped at the chance to do so.)

I figure the best attitude for doing my valet job is to be careful with and respectful of other people's cars...and also unimpressed. I've long thought of cars as very large tools, getting you somewhere. I've never been particularly concerned with having pretty cars, or striking ones. I've never really been a Car Guy, despite being raised by a dad whose father and younger brother worked for decades at Cummins Diesel, the engine company. (I do enjoy watching racing: watching, not doing.) I'm guessing this job won't turn me into a Car Guy, though I'll better appreciate different kinds of cars as this job goes on.

Meanwhile, I'll get more experience with more kinds of cars, and, I hope, be pleasantly surprised at what I can handle behind the wheel.



* It would have been one but I'd gotten all the way to the first of two comic book shops I'd wanted to go to before buying groceries when I saw I'd forgotten my notepad with my grocery list, including what I wanted to get with coupons. So, back to the house before getting to the supermarket! You do what you can.

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