IPSBS (Invisible Passenger Side Braking System)

I can remember when my parents were teaching me how to drive. This process around the age of fifteen for most kids back then. When I say “back then”, I am referring to the early 1980’s. One of my friends reminded me that this was part of the Paleolithic Era when he and I attended Pangea High School. At any rate, this training process started to prepare a young Pangean teen to acquire his driver’s license at the age of sixteen. This also allowed parents a full year of therapeutic counseling to prepare them for the emotional transition of this great milestone of childhood. It also allowed parents to obtain a years worth of supplemental employment to financially prepare them for the rise in their auto insurance premiums.
At the time, we lived in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood on the south side of Savannah, Georgia. There were a lot of nice little side roads to go down with little to no traffic on the weekend. My mother worked for a bank in the area. There was an occasional perk to her job. We lived some distance from the bank where my mother worked. Due to this distance, she would occasionally be provided with a vehicle that the bank had recently repossessed. This usually happened for a weekend until the paperwork on the vehicle could be processed the following Monday.There is an important reason why I am given you this little snippet about my mother’s occupation. I had asked my mother if I could practice driving around the neighborhood one Saturday. I was expecting to use our family’s 1967 Ford Falcon. However, my brother had the use of that car. This meant that I got to have my first driving experience in a repossessed car. I was initially less than thrilled about this. This was until I realized that this same vehicle was a 1975 Cadillac Sedan De Ville. That’s right, folks. I got to drive around my neighborhood in a CADDY.
I sat in the Caddy while I waited for my Mom to get in the car. I decided use this time to work on the proper way to lean my arm on the back of the seat and complete my cool look. After all, it’s a Cadillac. You MUST lean. The best way to complete the look is to wear some cool sunglasses and let them hang down on your nose a bit. My mom got in the car. She started off by telling me to fix my sunglasses. She said she had no desire to ride with Marlon Brando. I asked if she was talking about the old dude in “Superman”. I knew who Marlon Brando was but I couldn’t resist taking a poke at my Mom’s age (who was younger than I am now). She then told me to put BOTH hands on the steering wheel and dispense with the lean. I tried to explain the need to look cool. She wouldn’t budge on the issue. She firmly replied: “You can look cool when it’s YOUR car. Until then, put your hands at 10 o’ clock and 2 o’ clock.” I asked her if that meant I had four hours to drive the car. “You know what, boy? I COULD just go back inside right about now.” I decided this was a good time to put my sense of humor aside.
I backed out of the driveway and drove down the side streets as my mother instructed me. Overall, things seem to be going well. My mother decided to up the ante a bit at this point. She directed me to take my main street out of our neighborhood. Check it out, people. I was driving down White Bluff Road in Savannah, Georgia. You couldn’t have gotten rid of the grin on my face with a belt sander. It was around this point that I discovered something about driving that I did not know previously. As we were moving down the road, my mother noticed a car backing out of the driveway into the street. My mother apparently did not think that I noticed this vehicle as quickly as she felt appropriate. My mother then very quickly pressed her right foot down to the floorboard. The car had been equipped with an invisible passenger side braking system. I knew that it worked because when she did this, I firmly and quickly pressed on the brake pedal on the driver’s side (producing a very audible and visible skid). This prompted a very brief exchange between me and Momma. “Shane, WHY did you slam on the brakes like that?” BECAUSE, you slammed on YOUR brakes, Momma. “Well, I didn’t think you saw that fella backing out.”  Momma, it’s a Ford pickup. Did you think I suddenly went blind? “Boy, if you keep talking to me like that, you’re gonna be blind for a couple of days.” At this point, the gentleman in the pickup drove by and gave my mother a sympathetic smile as he shook his head at me. At this point, my mother offered to take the wheel. When I say she offered, I mean she said “How about I drive now?” and got out of the passenger side before I could respond.
There would be other driving lessons over the months that followed. I would discover that there were other parts of the car to engage the passenger side braking system. Sometimes my mother would just use the floorboard. Other times, she would also put her hands on the dashboard or on the roof (or both). She even once used a unique braking system by using the floorboard, one hand on the dashboard, and the other hand over her mouth. I take pleasure in telling you all that a few short months later. I acquired my first drivers license at the age of sixteen. I couldn’t help but notice that the instructor had BOTH of his feet pressed into the floorboard for the entire test.

The Wild Kingdom of Study

From the moment that I decided that I was going to advance by higher education and attend college again, I knew that I was going to face a concurrent task that would be the bane of my academic existence – homework. Due to the fact that, out of a family of six, five of us are attending college and the sixth is a high school senior (as of this writing), I occasionally have to relocate an area outside of the house to minimize interruption. So, with my laptop computer and text books in tow, I retreat to the great sanctuary of silent study – the library.

When I get to the library, I walk toward a sign that designates an area for me (and others like me) to do my studies. The library calls this the Quiet Study Area. I cannot help but be amused by the irony of a library that apparently needs to designate an area for quiet study. Since I have already had my cathartic rant about that particular subject (an essay entitled “I Can’t Hear You (I’m in a Library)”), I will not belabor that issue any further. I find an empty table and begin setting things up. Once I get my laptop computer plugged in and get comfortable in my chair, I devote a few extra minutes to what I consider to be a brief but necessary amount of lollygagging. I talk to my wife for a few minutes online and do some internet surfing. After all, a marathon runner doesn’t just start a 5 mile sprint without doing some warm ups.

It was during this time that I began observing some of the other people using the quiet study area with me. There was one interesting commonality, we were all wearing corrective eyewear. This is understandable to me. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore goggles to play some serious basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. It was clear that everyone in the room was preparing for some serious study (and I had already performed the proper warm up). I also noticed that the women in the room all had their hair pulled back. Quiet study is serious business where one should not be impeded by their tresses. I haven’t suffered such impedance in a long time. When my hair WAS long enough to have such an issue, I spent less time in libraries.

I also noticed some very distinct differences. One lady in the room appear somewhat matronly. She wore earrings that dangled like wind chimes to be strummed. I thought it better not to do so. This particular lady also had another distinction. She was the only one among us NOT using a computer. She was using (GASP) pen and paper. I have always admired people with legible handwriting. The last time I attempted writing anything other than my signature, I got three scholarships for pharmacy school. I also noticed another younger lady in the room. This young lady did not actually sit in her chair. She was perched upon her chair and seated more upon the heels of her feet. Her posture is almost feline in nature as if she is about to pounce upon whatever appears on her computer screen. Two more women arrive. Both, of course had their hair pulled back. However, instead of wearing eyeglasses they have sunglasses pulled atop their heads as a makeshift hair band. This is an interesting twist of the use of eye wear for function AND fashion. After all, they have no need for sunglasses in the library. Corey Hart wore his sunglasses at night but I am unsure if he wore them in the library. Should I ever meet Mr. Hart, I will be sure to ask him. It was shortly after this that two other ladies arrived (as I felt somewhat hormonally outnumbered). These two ladies were one adult and a girl about 12 years old. They are clearly rebelling against societal norms. Neither have eye wear. I did not verify the presence of contact lenses. For some reason, people are put off by that kind of behavior (once bitten, twice shy).  Also, both had their hair down. I must say that I was truly taken aback by such a brazen display of anarchism.

After all this observation, I decided that it was time to get down to business and crack open the textbooks. I took one last look around and said to myself: I have three homework assignments, I have three textbooks, a laptop computer, and I’m wearing bifocals. HIT IT!