safe following distance

On my way to yoga this evening, the driver of a large SUV in the lane to my left swerved over into my lane, overlooking the fact that I was there. Luckily, I had several feet ahead of me, plus the gutter to my right, so I instinctively hit the gas and moved forward and right, avoiding the worst of the collision. We were on a crowded city street, moving only maybe 20-30 miles an hour, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Basically, she clipped off my driver's side mirror, but there was no major body damage. Shook me up, and it's really irritating to have to deal with duct-taping the mirror, etc, and eventually getting it fixed. But it could have been so much worse.

Last Sunday, my mom, who still lives in the town where I grew up, told me the latest from the local obituaries in the newspaper: the guy who had been my driver's ed instructor passed away recently. I hadn't thought about Reggie in a long time. We didn't have driver's ed in school -- it had been cut along with English and History electives for budgetary reasons. So you had to pay some money to one of the 2 driving schools in the town, if you wanted to get your learner's permit before age 16. (You weren't required to take a course to get a license, you just had to wait a year or prove that you were working and needed a license -- I come from a very rural/agricultural state.) So the summer I was 15 I went once a week for 6 weeks or something to sit in a room and watch videos of car crashes. Reggie was a pretty intimidating guy, whose pedagogy involved a mix of trying to scare us, embarrass us, and prove to us that we were not invincible. What I remember most is that he would pick on these two girls, Anitra and Margaret, who were sort of on the edge of the "popular" group. Neither of them had the money to really be in the popular crowd, but they made up for that by being kind of slutty. Anyway, Reggie started calling Anitra "Teflon" -- because, he said, "nothing sticks." There was something incredibly refreshing about a teacher who actually made fun of the popular girls for being dumb. Of course, it's not very nice -- but most of my teachers in high school weren't very nice to us either.

There were rumors that Reggie was also a dealer -- whether he was or not I'll never know. But one time as I was out on a practice drive with him, he asked me several times if I knew someone named "Michael Hash." I couldn't tell if this was code, or if he was really just asking. I just shrugged and said no.

Anyway, thanks to Reggie for teaching me enough about safe following distance to keep me out of harm's way today.