Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Going the Extra Mile

"Men are respectable only as they respect."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had my first driving lesson in a place where my instructor- a California friend- was certain that I would harm nobody.
We went to an old cemetery.
I did a number of laps in relative peace and safety. Of course I was still terrified and no doubt my friend was nervous.
I admire people who are brave enough to teach somebody to drive at the risk of their own car. Not so Spouse I am afraid, who preferred to purchase old Mrs. Doyle for me so that I could have my own car to practice in.
Spouse has protected our car since the day he bought it ten years ago. He arrived in the United States unable to drive, with almost no experience even travelling in cars, and decided that he needed to learn. So he did, and so he passed his test and bought a brand new car a few weeks later.
Always careful and respectful, Spouse has never taken chances with it and never exceeded a reasonable speed.
Once, we drove to the most Northern part of California, and meandered among the Redwood trees in the Avenue of the Giants. There was a magnificent tree so large that one could drive right through its trunk. Many tourists did, and still do. We went there and admired the tree, whereupon Spouse declined to manouever the car through the enormous body.
There was minimal danger to the paintwork of the car but Spouse did not wish to test fate. Not so much as a scratch would he gamble on- and not for any material reason but simply for being aware that everything has its limits and that even machines demand our appreciative care and respect.
This week, after our trip to Maine, Spouse did a calculation and noted to both our surprise that the car's mileage was good. Very good in fact and far better than we had imagined.
Our expected rate was 24 miles per gallon given the common standard, the car's age, its recent trouble, and having studied others of the same model.
Instead, our result was 34 miles per gallon- and how proud Spouse was, how glad then that he perpetually treated the car like new.
That attitude has repaid him in kind.


Pappy said...

Smart man that Spouse. Was this a recent happening? The driving lessons, I mean. My rule is never teach family members to drive or play golf. Go ahead and pay the big bucks to save your family. I applaud your efforts behind the wheel. Not an easy task.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Texican, it happened about three years ago, before we left California. In fact, the lessons only ended because we moved. That was a good friend.
Thanks for your comment- I wholeheartedly agree about the driving. My mother and brother are still not quite over his driving lesson with her ;) and that was years ago.

Jaime said...

I've been to that tree! Aren't those forests incredible?

My dad gave me my first driving lesson...and then after that, he sent me to a driving school..hehe. I don't think I was a bad student..I think he was a very impatient teacher!

julochka said...

ooo, i feel a bit guilty about how we treat our old car. we can't actually remember how old it is. it's either a '94 or a '96. it's served us well, has nearly 400,000km on it, but we aren't particularly loving towards it. it's perpetually in need of a wash and at the moment, it's so dusty on the inside, i should feel more ashamed when i'm on the inside of it.

we stubbornly keep it since the taxes on cars are 150% in DK, so we don't want to replace it.

maybe i'll go give it a wash today after reading your post. perhaps it will make it feel better.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, I miss tall trees. Where I live is beautiful but it's a different kind. Spouse and I love mountains and Redwoods... I'll never forget our long drives among those trees.
Impatient teacher :) you're too funny. But I'm sure you're right. It's never the learner's fault! Ever!

Julie, go and hug your car ;)
I know about those taxes- it's supposed to be a real incentive to either not have a car or to keep the one you have.

polona said...

strange though it may sond, inanimate objects do respond to loving care.
well done all! :)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Polona, they really do! I know they do, somehow. It feels good, like the car is actively giving back after so many years of careful driving...

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.