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Monday, October 6, 2008

People From Manhattan Should Have to Retake Drivers’ Exams

Here’s a philosophical question for you: if a person has had a driver’s license since she was 17, yet hasn’t driven regularly since she graduated from high school, should the state of Pennsylvania really keep renewing her license unquestioned? Because they do. And for the past dozen years or so, my license has been decorative. It fills that little photo-spot in my wallet and is used for identification purposes only. Until now.

Oh, that’s right—watch out Philadelphia, because I am back on the road! Philly Car Share has happily added me as a member based on an unblemished driving record from the past 12 years of non-driving. And on Sunday, they let me borrow a brand new Mini Cooper.



Um, anyone else see the flaw in this plan?

If you live outside of Philly, let me explain. Philly Car Share is similar to other programs, like Zip Car, where residents join in order to have the ease of renting a car without having to fill out paperwork or go to a rental office. You sign up once, become a member, and from then on you can drive off in any of the cars conveniently parked in your urban neighborhood. Great, right?

Well, what this ingenious little company fails to recognize is that if someone’s living IN a city, and doesn’t have their own car, that probably means they don’t drive much. Take a person who moved to Boston for college and took the T to class everyday for four years; then she graduated and moved to Manhattan where parking spots cost as much as rent thus no one actually drives themselves; and then this person moves back to Philadelphia where she gets a job 15 blocks from her house and just takes the bus because it’s not like there’s a parking lot at her office or anything. And so here she sits at 30 years old with less driving experience than most 16 year olds with a learner’s permit, but no biggie. If you’ve got $9.90, then you’ve got yourself a Mini Cooper for an hour!

So that was me on Sunday driving on 1-95—yup, that multi-lane mega highway that goes from Maine to Florida! Though I only went from Philly to Springfield (about 20 minutes).



You see, I’ve been setting up school events throughout the area. And unfortunately taking a taxi to these suburban locations doesn’t seem financially responsible. And there isn’t exactly public transportation (trains, buses, or subways—oh, subways, how I miss you!) that takes me from door-to-door. So if I’m going to get from my house to these schools, I’m going to have to drive myself. Thus, I needed some practice.

Hey, remember that Ludacris song from 2001? “Move! Get out the way; Get out the way; Get out the way!” (This is obviously the radio-edited version for those more familiar with the dirtier one). Anyway, that was me on I-95.

I really should’ve been driving with my flashers on as a warning. However, the big white “Philly Car Share” logo is prominently displayed on both doors, which might as well be a blinking “Student Driver” sign because that would be a more accurate description. (Take note of these drivers if you live in the area. You don’t want to get near them.)




And to make things more challenging, these car shares have funky “key fobs” that unlock the doors by waving a magic wand on the windshield. Then you have to stick this plastic disk into a computer slot and press a “start” button to get the engine going. I’m not kidding. There’s no metal key. It’s like a spaceship in there.

My only saving grace was that I was familiar with the route we were traveling—from my house to where my parents used to live. But that didn’t stop the panic attack of having to merge onto the highway. I completely forgot about the sideview mirrors. Talk about blind trust—I made that first merge based purely on my husband’s say-so. (All the other drivers on 95 that day can send my husband a thank you card.)

I did get better by the end of the trip. My confidence boosted when I safely got to the Borders in Springfield. (Of course, I was going to a bookstore. Where else?) And I was able to merge onto the highway all by myself on the way home (I even treated myself with Starbucks afterwards as a reward). I think I did rather well, though my husband never stopped biting his nails, and when we got out he wondered out loud whether it might be a good idea for him to take off work and drive me to those high schools. Man, no faith!

I mean, if I can learn how to write a book, I can lean how to drive (again). Or I can hope to strike it rich on my next advance, and get one of those fancy Maybach cars that are meant to be driven by drivers with little hats for people named “Trump.” A girl can dream, right?



POP-CULTURE RANT: Phillies!

So the Eagles are sucking it up big time as of late, and I’m doing what any good Philadelphian would do in this situation—I’m jumping on the nearest bandwagon! Go Phillies! You realize that this is the first time they’ve made it to the NLCS since 1993. You know where I was in 1993? In tenth grade. So come join me on the wagon! Because if the country can get behind Red Sox Nation and the curse of the Big Bambino, then they can get behind the Phils and the Curse of William Penn. It’s not like we’re swimming in championships, here folks. Let’s Go Phillies!

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