It was a hot summer afternoon, and my little brother and I were playing a game we termed “vacation.” On this particular day, we were pretending that I was a tourist and he was my chauffeur. As we sat on our porch swing contemplating our destinations—mostly tropical—we decided to get into the family minivan to make the game more real.
After getting into the car, my brother promptly locked the door for safety. We were both pretty small, so we figured it would be easier if we sat in the same seat: the driver’s seat. As the game began, we pretended to buckle in but didn’t find it necessary to put on the actual seatbelt. My brother began turning the wheel. This is fun and safe, I thought as we pretended to drive on the beach. Then my brother shifted the van into neutral. My stomach dropped to the floor as the car began to roll forward. I panicked, seizing the wheel from my brother. I tried to press the brake, but my legs were too short. I tried to shift the gear back into park, but it was hopeless—I had never driven a car before.
Fifteen feet until impact …
The van rolled down our sloped driveway and picked up speed. We looked at each other in panic: We were headed straight for the garage.
Ten feet until impact …
My hands tightly gripped the steering wheel as I stared down my fate. We were going to hit the garage.
Five feet until impact …
I had no clue what I was doing, but desperately trying to avoid damaging the garage and potentially the van, I jerked the wheel to the right and shut my eyes in fear.
My brother and I had only hit the basketball hoop right next to our garage. We looked at each other in relief and scrambled out of the van. We rushed into the house to our parents and told them what had happened. My dad ran outside to shift the van back into park and made sure there was no damage while my mom checked on my brother and me. They weren’t mad, only worried about us. My mom told us how dangerous it is to get into a hot car and that we should never shift a vehicle out of gear when it is off or without pressing down the brake first.
Although my brother and I were not hurt, I had decided I would never drive again.
Fast forward eight years.
I had stuck to my decision about driving. Nonetheless, the decision was always on my mind. As I entered high school, it seemed like the topic of driving was always being discussed. More of my friends were getting either their license or their learner’s permit. I remained stubborn and wanted nothing to do with it. But one day changed all those years of stubbornness. It was a hectic day after school. My dad was traveling, my mom had choir, my older brother had dance, my younger brother had soccer, and my little sister had dance and a piano lesson. Means of transportation were stretched thin. All that day, I thought if only I had my license, all these extracurricular activities wouldn’t be such a strain on my mom.
My whole outlook was changed by that one day. I saw that driving isn’t something to be afraid of or avoid; it’s a responsibility and a service. The stubbornness I had about not driving faded into remorse that I hadn’t looked into getting my license as soon as I was old enough. I didn’t realize that by refusing to drive, I was also refusing my family—my parents more importantly—a service. Six months later, I passed my driver’s test and received my license. Since getting my license, I’ve helped take some of the burden off my parents by taking myself or my siblings to various extracurricular activities. I’ll never forget that one hot afternoon when my little brother and I almost drove into the garage. It has driven me to drive safely and responsibly.