Since getting her beginner's licence almost two years ago, most of Annyong's driving has been in the pickup truck. The big Mother Trucker. The Honey Badger. She can drive it quite well. She's learned to use her trailer mirrors to back it into a parking spot. She understands why it can't be driven into a spot between two cars. She can get around a right turn without jumping the curb.
It's easy. You sit up high and can see everything; you know where the front is, you know where the rear end is. Even if both ends of the truck are several feet away from where you're sitting, you know it's there. You can see everything around you. It's got lovely power steering. I mean, maybe it takes three times as long to park the thing, and a very cool head, but it can be done.
Besides it's automatic. Pretty simple.
But Grandma's little Pontiac Vibe doesn't make any sense to her. And we have to decide what she'll be driving for her road test. She won't take the Jetta because even though she has learned to drive standard shift, she's not totally smooth with it yet. Grandma generously offered her car. She just didn't think it would be fair to ask a kid to drive that monster for a test. Understandably so. I can brag about how well Annyong can manage the truck but let's face it. It's a handful.
I talked to the examiner. I explained how Annyong is used to the big heavy slow build of acceleration in the truck, not the quick jackrabbit start of the small car, and that while driving the car, the hood is not visible. It's opposite. She's been putting in time in the car, borrowing it as much as possible, and yet it just doesn't feel right.
I guess I'd forgotten temporarily where I live.
There are a lot of pickup trucks around here, and many of them have farm plates.
"She should drive what's she learned in, and what she's comfortable in," the examiner said.
"Really? I mean... you won't laugh? It's pretty rough looking."
She shrugged. "I've seen it all."
I leaned on the desk, pointing out the list of flaws that will get a vehicle disqualified for use in a road test. "The left signal doesn't cancel. I thought that might be a problem."
"Does it work?"
"Yeah, you just have to turn it off after you go around the corner."
"That's fine. As long as it works," she said, leaning back in her chair. I started to see the kind of deep calm and nerves of steel this woman has to have to do her job.
"And the driver's side door has a sticky latch."
"Does it open and close from both inside and outside?"
"Yeah... you really gotta reef on it though..." I really need to get that fixed, I thought. Again.
"As long as it opens and closes it's fine."
"Well okay then. I'll vacuum all the dog hair and horse hair out of it."
"Oh that'd be nice, since I have to wear a navy uniform." She smiled a little. I got the feeling she's been in some nasty vehicles. Coffee spills and cigarette butts and ashes - the very worst of automotive abuses! - and it's okay because this isn't a beauty contest. It just has to meet the safety requirements. Which it does. Barely, but it's safe. It runs beautifully. All eight cylinders! I'll do without a stereo (sad) and without air conditioning (that's what windows are for) but the what little money I have gets spent on things like brakes and new belts and filters, and tires. Boring things like that.
We made another appointment for a test. Back in Grandma's car, Annyong asked me if the emergency brake works in the truck. "I don't even know where it is," she admitted. Well that's because I have a bad habit of not really using it much.
"Yeah, it works." Thought about if for a second. "I'm pretty sure it does."
A few minutes down the road it occurred to Annyong, "So... we'll probably have to put the rear view mirror back on the inside of the windshield."
Oh yeah, that! I don't think the examiner would find the humour in our family joke. "Yes there is a rear view mirror. It's right there under the seat."
It's cool. A little blob of super glue and we're off to go get a driver's licence.
The parallel parking is going to be EPIC.