Periodically, I have the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat of the car while my 23-year-old daughter takes the wheel. This can be an adrenalin-pumping roller-coaster of a ride, wherein I covertly grip the door handle and remind myself to breathe.
Danica isn’t a bad driver. She’s “destination-oriented.” And now that I think about it, I believe the neighbours in the area where I grew up referred to me as “Little Hell on Wheels,” so perhaps she comes by it honestly.
Aggressive driving is certainly not something she inherited from her father. My grandmother drove faster than my ex-husband. At times, he would drive so slowly, I’d have to reach over with my own foot to press his foot down on the gas pedal.
Back in those days, people in B.C. who drove a little over the speed limit often received a souvenir in the mail. When my photo radar ticket arrived, my ex gleefully posted it on the bulletin board for all to admire. He’d often remind us that he’d never received a speeding ticket in his entire life. So I was quite thrilled, I confess, the summer we were driving from Powell River to Lund, when a police officer pulled us over.
“Were you speeding?” I asked innocently.
“Of course not,” he said a bit peevishly as we waited for Mr. Policeman to arrive at the window. Turns out, Mr. Virgin Speeding Ticket was driving 60 km in a 30 km zone!
While I gleefully pictured a copy of his speeding ticket posted alongside my photo radar ticket, Derrick attempted to sweet talk his way out of it. This involved hopping out of the van, checking the cop’s radar for accuracy, telling the officer he was “virgin,” and chatting with him for about 15 minutes. At one point, a car full of youths drove by and someone called out, “Give the cop a donut!”
I eyed the Tim Horton’s bag on the dash and quickly stowed it under my seat – nothing would get him out of this one. The girls sat quietly in the van, apparently cowed by Daddy’s slip into the underworld of traffic crime.
The mighty finally acknowledged he had fallen and we continued our journey in surly silence, turning around after a brief stop in Lund and heading back. As we passed the scene of the crime, we couldn’t see the 30 km speed sign anywhere on the opposite side of the road. With a righteous whoop from the drivers’ seat, Derrick swung the van around and re-traced his route of woe. There it was … the 30 km sign was lying flat on the ground! The avenged driver (a.k.a. a photographer) leapt onto the road and immediately took 21 photographs entitled Sign Lying On Ground. As he tried the shot from different angles, a Highways fellow drove up and began to re-erect the sign. So Derrick photographed him too.
“The police will probably think you kicked it down,” I mumbled as we drove to the RCMP detachment, where Derrick presented his case. A few hours later, an officer attended our campsite and drew the word “void” through the ticket. Once back home, I was forced to view his-and-hers souvenirs: my photo radar ticket grumpily sitting next to his ticket with a great big, self-satisfied “void” written through it.
My daughter’s driving record remains untarnished … but I can’t say the same for the hearts of anyone driving with her.
Susan Lundy is editor of Boulevard Magazine.