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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

From my Front Porch

Thursday, June 6, 2002

Driving Miss Barbara

While driving an automobile I have been known to make legal and not-so-legal U-turns, to take one-way excursions the wrong way, and to sit at stop signs waiting for them to turn green. I have also occasionally ventured into the "for use by authorized vehicles only" zone. I have one question: just what constitutes an authorized vehicle?

My husband is a former driver education instructor who has patiently taught many unskilled, yet eager teen-agers the fine art of vehicular maneuvering. He taught child number one to drive and is in the process of teaching child number two, but my husband of 22 years absolutely hates to be a passenger anytime his lovely wife is driving. No matter how tired he may become during a long road trip, the moment I'm behind the wheel he's wide awake. In his opinion, my driving skills are more stimulating than any amount of caffeine.

For obvious reasons, I prefer not to have the popular Christian symbol, the Ichthus, on any vehicle I drive on a regular basis. I figure to do so could be grounds for excommunication or, at the very least, intense confusion. The other day I saw an older model car painted bright pink and green. Not only did it have an Ichthus on it, but written all over it were various Biblical references and inspirational sayings such as "Down with sin." On the rear window there was one of those Calvin characters proclaiming, "Praise the Lord."

Because I didn't think anyone would believe how outrageous the car was, I took a picture. Yes, I was driving.

What would really be appropriate for my van's bumper and a real boost for my self-esteem is a sticker that says, "Honk if you love Jesus."

An insurance adjuster once told me that an inordinate amount of claims are made due to accidents in parking lots. If there is anywhere I diligently follow the rules of proper driving etiquette it's in a parking lot. My motivation is that I have no desire to try to explain to my husband a 5-mph fender bender.

It was difficult enough trying to explain the run-in I had with our bank's drive-through window. I simply wanted to cash a $1.49 cereal rebate check. So I pulled into the drive-through lane and patiently waited my turn. As I progressed through the line I heard an awful scraping sound and asked my passenger, "What in the world was that?"

She looked at me and as calmly as possible said, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm afraid you just sideswiped the bank." I got out to look and sure enough, there was a six-inch wide red mark all the way down one side of my 1-month-old white van.

With disbelief I looked at the teller who was sympathetically shaking her head. "You're not the first one to do that," she said, trying to comfort me.

Before I went home with the bad news, I found an auto body repair shop and pleaded my case. They felt so sorry for me that they immediately took the time to help by buffing out most of the damage. They didn't charge me a dime; which more than made up for the fact that I didn't cash the rebate check.

Unfortunately, I recently had another close encounter with a bank drive-through, but I'm pleased to report that those cumbersome vacuum-tube money cylinders used to transport one's banking business back and forth from the teller window are virtually indestructible. I have witnesses.