10 and 2

I came to a jarring conclusion the other day. If I had to take my road test for my driver’s license today I would probably fail. I can’t seem to get this 10 and 2 thing down.

It’s been a long time since I squirmed behind the wheel in my dad’s 1962 Chevy Impala on the closed course the inspection station in Wayne, NJ. In fact it’s been almost 50 years and about a million miles ago. But I can still sense the uneasy feeling I had that summer day as the testing agent climbed aboard. I mean, this was it. This was what  “growing up” was all about. This was a day of freedom … or utter failure.

Back then, we didn’t have to worry about pesky things like seat belts and there were only two mirrors to worry about. Since it was a closed course, I didn’t have to worry about traffic. I don’t recall the 10 and 2 hand position being a requirement, but I’m pretty sure my hands were nowhere near those prescribed locations on the steering wheel. I headed out to the course and easily maneuvered all the tests, including parallel parking and three-point turns, with nary a mishap. Pass. Freedom!

Of course, I owe it all to my dad. He entrusted his 3,500 pound boat to his son … with proper training, of course. After getting my permit, he generally allowed me to get behind the wheel as he took over shotgun. Along with the usual admonitions — “You’re going too fast” “What if that car in front of you stops suddenly?” “Use your turn signals, that’s what you have them for” — he shared other driving nuggets that have stuck with me all these years. “If you’re turning right, turn your wheel to the right. If you’re turning left, turn your wheel to the left.” “Never stop on a railroad track.” “You have to learn how to drive a standard shift.” “Watch the traffic two or three cars in front of you.” “Stop playing with the high beams.” “As you pass a car, watch his front wheels.” “Drive defensively.” “When you’re behind the wheel, you have a lot of responsibility.” “Leave the damn radio alone! You’re driving, not being entertained.” Okay, I didn’t learn everything, but I remembered.

And he taught me well. Over these many years, I have a relatively spotless driving record, mostly a few dings and dents and only one serious accident. Even my brushes with the law have been minimal and generally after getting caught in a speed trap. I never complained when snared because I probably, might of, almost certainly, in all likeliness pushed the vehicular law envelope a time or two … or three .. or …

Still to this day, I check my mirrors often, drive defensively, look two or three cars ahead of me. I don’t stop on railroad tracks, although I don’t really know why except for it being a throwback to my “old” days when cars would stall on tracks as drivers tried to shift. I prefer a standard transmission to automatic. I feel like I’m more in control, even the cars have slimmed down from the ’50s and ’60s.

But I can’t get this 10 and 2 thing to work. It all came about when I was listening to some radio banter {I know, I was supposed to be driving, not being entertained} about the “proper” way to place your hands on the steering wheel.

I intentionally tried to improve, but just couldn’t get comfortable. I felt my upper body tense at 10 and 2. I felt constrained while turning. I was so conscious of my hand position I became unconscious to my surroundings and missed my exit.

So, I’ll hang my left arm out the window with a finger touch around 8 or nine. I’ll drive one-handed, alternating between the right and left hand.  I’ll keep my “home” position at 6 and wherever.

And I’ll thank the Lord for allowing me to take my driver’s road test many, many years ago rather than today.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: No one is a failure who is enjoying life.


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in family, growing up, Memories, relationships and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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