“It wasn’t my fault!”

Posted by Danny

Today’s text message to Dad:

Can you pick me up two hours late from Driver’s Ed?


We’re running late.

Did you get into a wreck?


Maybe the first clue that this Driver’s Ed stuff was going to  be a challenge was when the instructor emailed DJ:

I’ll be in the front circle of your school at 4:00 on Thursday.  Look for a blonde wearing sunglasses

Or, DJ, you could just look for the car with the enormous ‘Driver’s Ed’ sign on the top.

The two novice drivers got to the car and our wise instructor asked, “Either of you ever driven before?”

Driver 1:  “Never.”

DJ:  “A couple of times.”

Kicking her shoes off and bracing her bare feet on the dashboard, the instructor tossed the keys to DJ.  “You’re on.” 

And out to Hillsborough Street, in rush hour traffic, she went – straight toward the newest asphalt edition in town, our first double roundabout.   Had I been the instructor, I would have driven her to a dirt road in rural Chatham County.  But then, I’ve seen her drive before.

Now I love the roundabout – it’s the most efficient way to get down the street – with no stop signs or lights.  I like it so much, sometimes I take an extra loop around just for fun.  But it’s no place for a newby or for about half of the women in my life who tell me they just don’t get the circle of traffic.  They approach a roundabout like I approach a crystal glass, with timidness and care. 

Instead of tapping the breaks and speeding on through, they come to a complete stop – looking in both directions (although it’s a one way circle), and pondering from which direction the next car might approach.  Break dancing doesn’t come naturally to me, roundabouts don’t come naturally to them.

After making it down Hillsborough Street, the instructor had the girls drive by her house four times to ensure that her children were getting the yard work finished.

“Slow down DJ,” the window goes down. 

“John, John, get ALL the weeds in the driveway!  And Sarah, go get dinner started, I’ll be back in an hour!”

I was surprised she made that prediction with DJ behind the wheel.

But indeed she did make it home and DJ did too – on day 1.

Day 2 brought a different instructor.  And a half mile from the gates of the school, DJ came across a car in front of her that was, surprisingly, coming to a stop.  She claims she saw it and was slowing down, but apparently her instructor felt she could have perhaps shown a bit more urgency with her right foot.  So, he slammed on brakes from the passenger side of the vehicle missing DJ’s target.  The person behind him, also a little slow on the draw, and the next two cars behind him not so lucky.

It was around 5:30 pm, and I was in my car headed home and listening to Mix 101.5 when the traffic report came on. 

Traffic is slow on The Beltline and stop-and-go on I 40 East.  And there is gridlock on Hillsborough Street at the Oberlin Road intersection due to a four car pileup.

Little did I know that my daughter was driving the first of the four.

It is true that the accident was not her fault.  It is also true that I am in search of an older model vehicle with a passenger side brake.

Leave a comment


  1. Holly

     /  May 9, 2012

    Everyone. Ok ?

  2. Fran Yohman

     /  May 9, 2012

    And my husband asked DJ if she wanted to drive our car full of teens on Sunday. What was he thinking?

  3. Mom

     /  May 9, 2012

    And the fun begins, Dad. I remember when you and your brother, Chad, ran straight into each other in our driveway. Since it was a steep hill and you were going down and he was going up and there was a blind spot on the hill, you guys did a good job of it. And I laughed uncontrollably as I stood watching through the window. Bad reaction but it just hit me in a funny way. It was as if you were playing with cars when you were little boys and doing one of those pretend “pileups” that you sometimes did with your toy cars. Chad didn’t think it was a bit funny. That car was his precious Z28 and he loved it more than roses and Pepsi Colas at the time. He still doesn’t see the humor in it because he had no insurance on it. Oh the stories you will have from three girls learning to drive!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 9, 2012

      you always do laugh at the most inopportune times.

  4. I remember my instructor slamming on the brakes too, but I was lucky of course. He actually stopped the car in time to prevent the car in front of us from cutting in front and hitting us. His poor driving, not mine! It’s scary when the car stops by itself though.

  5. Cynthia

     /  May 9, 2012

    there should be an exception to the open container law when we have to ride with our newly licensed teen drivers! I feel certain that a little vodka would make me a calmer passenger.

  6. Love your blog! I just did a corporate training for a driving instruction school. They’re rather somber, those driving instructors. My son has been driving for two years now, I still don’t get in the car with him.

  7. Pam Daniels

     /  May 9, 2012

    Glad she is okay. I have 2 teen drivers…all I can say is I am better as a passenger after a glass of wine…

  8. Aunt Susan

     /  May 9, 2012

    Boy I remember my drivers ed, I ran off the road! and it wasn’t my fault. The instructor brought his little yappy dog alone and it barked! I CANNOT believe that DJ is taking Drivers Ed, is Pops ready to give up the cooper? that was his reasoning for buying it!

  9. The first time our son drove, he almost overshot a 90 degree turn…and then informed me that this was nothing like driving a car in a video game!

  10. Scott E.

     /  May 11, 2012

    Love your mom’s sharing of you and Chad. I can see her laughing at that. I remember one weekend coming to your house when your parents lived on Rolling Hill Rd. (i think that was the road name). Your house was at the top of the hill and the street was below. I parked at the house, forgot to put on the parking brake, and my car rolled all the way down the driveway, across the street and into the yard across the street while we were inside the house. No one was hit by my car fortunately. I guess we get smarter as we get older.

    I’m glad DJ is OK and you will be too.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 12, 2012

      Same driveway! And yours was not the first car to roll backward down that driveway. Its amazing someone didn’t get hurt.

  11. Mom

     /  May 14, 2012

    I remember those college weekends well! What a mound of clothes you boys brought home. It took the whole family, including you, to get them washed! Those were fun times. I remember the organized way Scott ate. We did love him and Andy when she came too.


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