An American Coming of Age Tradition: Right or Privilege?

(Wonderful readers, oh dear, dear, lovely and beautiful readers, I had meant to post this Saturday, but some things came up and I haven’t had access to my laptop since about Friday. I may or may not post a brilliant detailing of my adventures with a camera and a best friend and just how much money I can blow through simply because I cannot enter one of the following without buying something I don’t really need: Any book store on this frickin’ planet and Old Navy (and most recently, American Eagle. Take that fat! Watch me eat my way to skinnier sizes!). Also, the sunburn. I hate being so fair-skinned. Period.)

Growing up, I remember both my parents, especially my mother, talking about how they had begun driving at a fairly young age. My mother, because she was my grandpa’s little helper (my uncle was too busy being my grandma’s favorite and later on, becoming a drug addict. He’s a fairly nice guy, really! He’s just had drug issues for the past 40 or so years), had begun driving around age eight, simply because of hay and horses. When she got older, she would drive on the road — without her parents knowing. This really doesn’t surprise me. My mom is… One of those people who can get away with doing crap like that. I can totally tell another story about something I said when I was around the age of ten (evidently, I seriously don’t recall this) that involved my mother and my paternal grandmother and how I expected my mom doing something rather… Undignified in that case. But that’s for another time, should anyone actually be interested. Which I doubt.

Back to my main point: When I was younger, I was excited about driving and couldn’t wait to do it. I was even allowed a few times to drive the truck around my maternal grandfather’s field helping pick up hay. That is, until I was finally of age to get my permit. For about a year, the mantra my parents parroted at me was “Driving is a privilege, not a right!”. Something clicked in my teenaged brain and I immediately decided that hey, if that’s the game they wanted to play, I would play it. So I threw any driving manual they handed me as far away from me as I could, ignored that they continuously told me to read it, and by the time I hit the sweet age of fifteen, I didn’t go get my permit. I was determined to undermine my parents’ expectations of me being on the road and learning how to drive.

Because my lack of want and ambition, the mantra became that I needed to do this, that I didn’t have a choice in the matter. But how I fought! If I could punch, I could have been a boxer with all the moxie I put into denying my parents their only daughter driving herself to the movies or the mall (like that ever really happened).

Well, now I was just confused. I could have sworn that driving was a privilege, and doesn’t privilege mean that I don’t technically have to do it if I don’t want to? Time to visit the dictionary! Privilege is: basically a special right or benefit someone has been granted. Hmm, so I suppose I’m sort of right, bordering on wrong.  But you get my drift (I hope).

One tact they tried on me was “Do you really want your mother to drive you around? Doesn’t that embarrass you?” To be completely honest, the only time my parents embarrass me is when they feel like they have to actually try to be embarrassing. Since the two main people who I went out with often enough to not really care, I didn’t mind the rather random stories my mom told about me. Some of them are funny. But that’s not just it. After a while, people who had to hang out around my mom for a reasonable length of time would later say, “Hey, your mom is awesome. I wish mine was as cool as yours.” So, no, I really didn’t mind not having my permit, and later my license, because it seemed that whenever my friends were around, the hilarious stories about both my childhood and my mother’s life before meeting my father. (The really juicy stuff I hadn’t found out till I asked why my parents got married in October 1992 when I was born in March 1993. That’s part of another story, really.)

Well, their constant nagging, as well as being tired of having my friends tell me to get my license (with more than a few f-bombs on one’s part) made me decide that this so-called privilege might be a good idea to invest in. Right before graduation, I finally got my permit. I had highlighted every single frickin’ sentence in that manual, trying to make sure I memorized the right stuff to pass. Which I did. So I finally made the first step into adulthood. Not that anything truly interesting happened.

Oh, hold on. December 2011. Floater. One of my best friends absolutely had to come out for a concert put on by her favorite band (click the link; I honestly have no idea what genre they are, but if you aren’t into rock/metal, don’t listen to them). I experienced my first mosh pit and I did the most illegal thing I’ve ever done. My parents still don’t know, but they had decided that since I couldn’t drive, my friend would drive my car. I did not feel comfortable with her driving and I also knew how to get around town better than she did. So when we got so far from my home, we would do the Chinese Fire Drill and switch seats, and off we sped, me being awesome for once and doing the only thing I’ve ever done that my parents would have whooped my ass had they found out (they still don’t know). Yup, and of course, she totally had to freak out because we were driving next to a police officer for a while.

But that is totally remedied. I have finally proven my worth to the world and gotten my license as of July 20th. Only four years after the time I should have gotten my act together in the first off. And to conclude, other than telling the entire world what a piss-poor teenager I am, I think that driving is a right. We just don’t want to realize that’s what it is, but really. If it was a privilege, I think there would be a lot more to it than “Hey, we want you to drive around a block and if you can, you pass! Yay, have a prize for being so cool!”. Like an IQ test or something.

Especially in California. Sorry, if anyone is from California, I don’t mean to offend. Your drivers are the butt of any and all driving jokes in Oregon. Seriously, pull it together. You drive like crap. Most of the idiots on the road that we see have Californian license plates. It’s like, you have to come to Oregon and try to run us off our own roads. Go back to your overcrowded state and do it there! You make me nervous and I shrink down like a little old lady, glaring over the steering wheel (which is hard to do, being average height and not at all shriveled), trying not to die because you think you can merge wherever you willy-nilly please. You can’t. There are other people. In large, incredibly fast-moving metal death traps. You may think you’re safe in whatever vehicle you’re in, that you spent a crap load of money on, but guess what: you are not. So stop endangering the rest of us. We appreciate it. Our insurance companies appreciate it. Our pockets appreciate it. Thanks.

Please enjoy my crappy paint skills:

NOT. GOOD. FOR. ANYBODY.

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5 thoughts on “An American Coming of Age Tradition: Right or Privilege?

  1. I see your point about it being a right as opposed to a privilege, but when I meet crazy teenage drivers on the road, I really want to tell them that for they’re totally abusing that right. As to California drivers, I’m sorry so many of us suck but for the record, it gets better if you head away from the cities. I lived in suburbia where anyone going over 50 was likely to be ticketed. In LA though, that’s a whole other beast. I would know since I went to school there for 4 years and unfortunately picked up some habits– it was that, or get killed by other people.

      • I know all about the can’t type dealio. “Visibly”, “actually”, and “you” have all been problem words that I can think of in the past six months.
        Well now I know why we have crazy Californian drivers in Oregon. Thank you for enlightening me!
        This is probably why most countries evidently don’t allow their citizens to drive till around 18, just for maturity purposes. Though we all know that just because we’re eighteen or older doesn’t necessarily mean we’re any more mature than our sixteen year old selves… Right?

      • Very true but at least at 18, most of us have to be slightly more independent for better or for worse so I’d like to think that allows us a bit more maturity than at 16.
        I promise if I’m ever in the Oregon area, I’ll show everyone that not ALL Californian drivers are such road rage maniacs. 🙂

      • Yup, that’s for sure. There’s bound to be quite a few experiences between sixteen and eighteen anyway.
        I’m sure that not ALL Californian drivers are horrible, but it just seems that way. Don’t worry, there’s the occasional Oregonian that sucks and more than a few Washingtonians as well that can’t keep it in their lane. It just seems like we mostly notice the Californians that are horrible. xD

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