If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, you need my scientifically proven method of social ice-breaking.
The secret: Tell people you used to be a driving instructor. That's what I do. Of course, it helps that I actually did, at one time, teach people how to drive.
Then again, I could be making it up, just as a way of starting a column. I guess you'll never know!
Anyway, once you tell people you were once a driving instructor, they will become instantly fascinated and have all sorts of questions. You'll need to answer these, ideally without giving out bad information, which could cause a fatal accident. No pressure!
Fortunately, I have compiled here a list of the most common questions posed to driving instructors by the general public, along with the correct answers. Jot these down:
“I can never remember who's supposed to have the right of way at a four-way stop.”
The largest vehicle always has the right of way. If you have trouble remembering this rule, think of school bus drivers, who routinely pullout into traffic at random moments.
“What if there are two vehicles the exact same size?”
In the event of a tie, the vehicle with the largest driver goes first.
“Sometimes, when I go to make a left turn, an oncoming driver will stop and give up the right of way. Should I take it, even though doing so would violate traffic laws?”
The correct procedure is for both drivers to begin a series of spastic hand gestures that would convince any visiting alien race that humans have no communication abilities whatsoever. Continue to escalate the intensity of the gestures – open your window, if necessary -- until a) one of you gets plowed into from behind, or b) both drivers proceed simultaneously and collide head-on.
“One time, this guy came up behind me on the interstate and stayed about two feet from my bumper for, like, five miles. There was no traffic, and I was ahead of the speed limit by ten miles an hour. No reason not to pass. What should I have done?”
Lob a few rotten cantaloupes out your window. (If you'd rather not cart around rotten cantaloupes because you're one of these superficial people who treats your car better than most hospitals treat newborns, water balloons will also do the trick)
“A gas station in my neighborhood had been slashing prices. I managed to get a pump after waiting about 10 minutes, but as soon as I pulled up next to it, a Johnny-come-lately driver approached my front bumper, and started waving her finger and yelling at me to back up. What would you do?”
This would be a great time to move your pet shrunken head to a visible spot on the dash board and reverently ask its sage advice.
That's how I got this column started.