I found the journal I kept during my Driver's Ed class the summer of 1996 and have transcribed it here.
Let me set the stage:
Heather is 15 years-old. She wears her hair in a ponytail everyday. Everyday. She is shy, awkward and has bad acne. She has had very little driving experience. There are many farm kids in this Driver's Ed class who have been driving tractors since birth. There are also some of the cool kids, who Heather feels insecure around.
Driver’s Ed was structured into three parts:
Classroom-where classroom learning happened, books, reading, stuff like that
Range-The fenced are with fake streets and cones behind the school. Range was like circuit training for driving with exercises spaced all around in which a student rotated what skill they were on. Some of the exercises were; Serpentine (forward and back), Parallel Parking, Three Point Turn, Offset Street, Right Back In Turn, Angle Parking
Behind the Wheel-Three students and a teacher hit the streets of Jamestown, ND in a car with a break both the driver’s and the passenger’s side. And the big yellow triangle ‘STUDENT DRIVER” sign on top.
Here we go!
June 24, 1996
Driver’s Ed starts tomorrow. I am so nervous, I want to go but I do not want to be embarrassed. I wish I could just get my license and not go to Driver’s Ed. I wish I knew everything about driving so I can get an A.
June 25, 1996
Well after driving on the wrong side of the road and forgetting to turn my range car off, all went pretty well. My range car is so cool; it is a white Grand Prix with the handle on the side of the window. My group for range is pretty stupid but this girl Angie is really nice.
June 26, 1996
Today was worse. I ran my range car into the fence and dented the car. I am never going to pass Driver’s Ed and I will never get my license. Behind the Wheel was ok, but why did I have to hit the fence? Why? I am the worst driver in the world.
June 27, 1996
I hate Driver’s Ed. I suck, Range was fine except I backed out of the Angle Parking the wrong way and got in trouble. When we went Behind the Wheel, we were working on multi-lanes and changing lanes. I am good at changing but when I was turning on to the multi-lanes, I was turning left and Mr. Bertcsh kept saying ‘Inside lane, inside lane,” and I thought he meant on the LEFT side inside lane so I kind of went there and he grabbed the wheel. I was so embarrassed. I almost hit a car door I didn’t see and he grabbed the wheel again. Then when I turned I accidentally jumped lanes on the turn. I was happy because I thought I was in the correct lane but I wasn’t.
Before Range today a guy said, “Are you going to hit any fences today?’ That was so mean so I said, “No, maybe you will.” I hate driving. I just want my license. I am very afraid that if I do something wrong again they will not let me drive.
June 28, 1996
Well, Driver’s Ed wasn’t so bad today, probably because today we did not drive. I felt that everyone kept looking at me because I am such a bad driver. I hope someone else is worse than me and I improve, I hope.
July 1, 1996
Okay, Driver’s Ed is getting better, but I almost hit the fence again. When I almost hit the fence there were like four cards around so now everyone makes fun of me behind my back. Behind the Wheel was okay, Mr. Bertcsh was gone so we had Mrs. Nold.
July 2, 1996
Today Driver’s Ed was okay but I went to the Offset Street wrong and the Right Back In Turn wrong. I almost hit Natalie. Nathan said to Natalie, “Hurry up, you’re slow,” and she said, “No, I’m not. I am behind Heather. She is slow.” I felt like screaming, “Well, I’m sorry, Natalie if I am not a know-it-all driver and do not meet your driving standards!” I smashed two cones and Mrs. Sunderland had to move two more cones so I would not hit them. But I did do the Serpentine well. And in Behind the Wheel, my parallel parking was okay but I hit the curb and ran the car up on it. But the other than that it was okay. All Mr. Bertcsh does is talk to his little pet Natalie. I hate her, she is a suck-up.
July 3, 1996
Today wasn’t too bad I only smashed one cone but on the Serpentine, I kept hitting one. Otherwise it was OK. Behind the Wheel was all right but it was raining. When I got in the car I forgot the shift gears and tired to go with the car in park. I think someone scratched their car on the fence. I got a headache in Range. Three days left, good.
July 8, 1996
Driving sucks. Today we had a Defensive Driving course, talk about boring. Range was OK. I only nicked one cone. Corey had to run around the range because he was talking. It was funny. We were Interstate driving today and Mr. Bertcsh got mad at me and kept saying, “Maintain your speed.” I was trying to and then he said, “That was the third time you need to maintain your speed.” Then He told me to speed up and I was going 73mph. I said, “Well, now I am speeding.” Two days left.
July 9, 1996
Today wasn’t too bad. We tested in Range. I got an 87% I think it was the lowest grade. Oh well. We did the stupid team question thing and my team is stupid. I could not remember my information so no one knew the answer and Natalie was like, “Who’s information was that yours, didn’t you read?” I hate her. In Range we had to wait before we could leave each skill and Rick Stockton was at one of mine. He was trying to teach me to peel out. Then when I was done backing through the Serpentine he said, “You are the master backer.” He talked to me a few more times, he is kind of cute. Dave Gardner is kind of cute too. Behind the Wheel was ok. I parallel parked all by myself! Lots of tests tomorrow, that is okay!
July 10, 1996
I passed! My Behind the Wheel test I got a 96%. One point off for turning my wheels in parallel parking. One point off for looking only straight ahead and two points off for having bumpy stops. On the tests in classroom today, I got A's on them all. I got a B for the course…
July 12, 1996
I passed my Driving Test! I got a 96% on it. I was so nervous but I passed. I only had to parallel park behind one car. So easy. I have a license!
July 16, 1996
Guess what I heard yesterday at Volleyball Camp! Natalie failed her driving test. She told me that she ran a red light. I told her, “Oh, I got a 96%” That’ll show her!
July 18, 1996
Natalie failed her test again. She turned in front of a car. Ha! Ha!
August 26, 1996
School starts tomorrow; I hope no one says anything about Driver’s Ed. That is the only thing I am worried about. I hope no one remembers.
August 27, 1996
No one said anything but it is only the first day so someone might say something. I hope not.
August 31, 1996
No one has said anything. I hope everyone has forgotten.