Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Home for the Holiday

The Nephew just arrived home from college for Thanksgiving, after scoring exceedingly well on his GREs. We’re very proud of him. Engineering is a tough curriculum and I give him credit for making it to his senior year. It hasn’t always been an easy track and he hasn’t aced every test and course but he’s stuck to it and done quite well on the whole.

He did not drive home from school as I’d hoped but his father and our mother say that the whole curriculum is so stressful and since it is a holiday it was better just to let him sit back and take it easy. I’ve been hollering at him about not driving, but truth be told, it’s really not his fault.

By the time he got his driver’s license, he was already at school and the college wouldn’t allow freshmen to have cars. I wonder if these colleges realize just how dangerous this policy really is. I don’t know what it is they have in mind – keeping kids from driving drunk, keeping them on the campus so they’ll study, having fewer cars so they “save the planet.” However, preventing those young drivers from driving sets back from gaining the driving experience they need to eventually be good drives, and erodes their confidence when they do get behind the wheel.

We also happen to live in a terribly congested area with amazingly aggressive drivers. I don’t blame my nephew for being terrified. I’M terrified of these drivers! I leave for work very early in the morning just so I can avoid them. In any case, my nephew has been working as intern at my brother’s company during the summers, so they drive in together anyway, and my brother is a backseat driver. He has no patience, which doesn’t do my nephew any good in learning to drive.

Finally, the nephew has my old car. It’s a small, girlish, two-door coupe with a manual transmission. My nephew is six foot three, or something like that. When he gets into the car, he has to squish up like an accordion. My younger brother had the same problem driving that car: it was like trying to fit Chewbacca into one of those carnival photo booths. The reason I bought a bigger car was because of my brothers’ complaints, but then Number One Brother turned around, bought my car, and squished his son into it.

It’s not so much that my nephew is driving us crazy, as we’re probably driving HIM crazy. I’ve told Big Brother, sell the little car, I will NOT be offended. Get the nephew a car that he can fit into! But BB is a cheapskate and insists the little car is fine.

Still, the Nephew has to gird his loins if he’s to get along in the world. It is a tough world and there’s not much we can do about. Bad drivers are just going to go on tailgating, speeding, cutting other cars off, blaring their horns, and causing accidents. The best we can do is just keep to the right as much as possible and let the sail by.

He’s thinking about CalTech as a grad school or another school in California. I’m thinking of going out to visit my friend in the San Francisco Bay area and bringing my nephew with me to let him see what it’s like to drive on California’s freeways. And people think New Yorkers are bad (he can also meet some of my friend’s beautiful granddaughters and their pals – no wait, if he does that, he’ll really want to go to California). Or my brother can take him along on his next business trip out there. If he thinks driving in the Northeast is hair-raising, wait till he gets on I-5.

But at least he’s home now for the holiday. For my nephew, there’s really no place like home, even though he says he wants to travel internationally. He says when he gets rich enough, he’ll hire a chauffeur. Until then, his father will have to ferry him around, which is kind of nuts.

Speaking of nuts, on this holiday weekend, try not to go nuts out on the road. Practice a little of the charity we’re supposed to be exhibiting at this time of year. Give the other driver a break. Slow down, be polite, and be careful, so you can be home for the holidays.


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