From the backseat of our car the other day my nine-year-old son loudly stated, “You’re becoming your mother.” I knew exactly what he was talking about. We were trying to make a left-hand turn into non-stop traffic as a line of cars behind us became increasingly impatient. “I hate these left-hand turns!” I cried out before my son made his unquestionable statement. These were the words I heard repeatedly from my mother in the 80’s and 90’s, although she said it with a bit more exasperation and defeat. “Oh I HATE these left-hand tuuurns! I’m NEVER gonna get outta heeeeere!” It used to annoy the crap out of me because she was so dramatic and aggravated about it. But now that I’m older and an experienced driver, I completely understand.
My brother and I would make fun of her, and to this day it is an ongoing joke. We mimic that sentence that is still lingering somewhere over the streets of Antioch, Tennessee. Even she laughs about it now. It’s become one of those family inside-jokes that’s still alive with the next generation. So when my son hears me say those exact words in a real-life situation, well he is smart enough to know it resembles the frustrated expression of Grandma.
Another thing that annoyed my mom on the road was the incompetence of drivers from a certain county. Anytime a driver did something idiotic, like pull in front of us, or slam on brakes, or stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, my mom got a good look at the license plate. And lo and behold, they were always from the same county. “Rutherford County, I knew it!” She screamed in annoyed confidence. They did seem to be the worst drivers on the street. That was also the county were my mom was born and raised.
I don’t notice any particular county in The Tampa Bay area of Florida (where I reside now) that fosters incompetent drivers, although if you see a Toyota Camry or Buick Lucerne swerving about, pulling out into oncoming traffic, or going 10 miles an hour, you can bet the driver is at least 75 years old. And when this does happen you will hear me say, “Great-grandma Myrtle—I knew it!”
My grandma (born, raised, and still living in Rutherford County) has never driven a day in her life. My mom won’t drive on interstates. I’ve taken 600 mile road trips by myself on several occasions. So with each generation comes more driving confidence. But when I start getting cocky my mom always reminds me of the time I was just learning to drive and nearly crashed our minivan into a median.
I yelled through hormonal teenage tears, “I’m never driving again!” My mom sternly looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes you will, Jenifer! You have to.” In her own shaky driving self-confidence she knew her daughter could not be scared like her or her own mother. And I’m glad she said that to me that day. Because I might not have had the displeasure of hating left-hand turns just like her.