Today was my very last day as a driving instructor, which is something I’ve done off and on since 1992 and during the times Yumiko and I have lived in America. Teaching teens to drive has been very rewarding for the journey I’ve shared with hundreds of young people taking on some of their first adult responsibility in learning to become safe, competent, and courteous behind-the-wheel members of our community. The process takes six months, during which time I usually spent six or more hours with each teen, as well as time getting to know their families, who are an ￼￼integral part of the driver’s ed process. I’ve taught entire households (including grandma in one case!) and entire neighborhoods even, where driving by in my little blue Fiat elicits friendly waves from moms and dads who know me; their grown children independently driving themselves down the street on outings; and young boys and girls playing on the sidewalk who watch me go by, recognize me, and know their turn is next in just a couple of years.
My very last student today was Chloe (pictured with her mom and dad) who finished her training with me today, and who will take her DMV test later this month. Chloe’s family were the model of caring: meeting with me always before and after each lesson in order to discuss Chloe’s progress, as well as putting in the many hours of practice necessary to ready their daughter for driving without them; which in turn will allow mom and dad to rest easy at home when Chloe is soon out in the world driving alone.
And for anyone curious about what it’s like to actually teach teens to drive, I’ve included (with permission) a short clip of today’s second lesson with Ben, who did great, but who struggled a bit with awareness of other vehicles at one of San Clemente’s more challenging intersections.
It’s been great being a driving instructor - a job which always reminded me that each generation is chock full of wonderful young men and women ready to learn, succeed, and go out and make the world a better place. I’m so glad that I could have a part in that process - on and off - for almost thirty years.
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.