Flash Friday: If All Else Fails, Fake It…Then Run it Over While No One’s Looking.
Did you ever read the fable about the father, son, and their donkey on the way to market? It tells of how they get criticized as they walk along no matter how they arrange themselves–father riding, son riding, both riding, and finally donkey being carried. And in the end they slip (while carrying the donkey) and the poor beast goes into the river and drowns. Which answers the question of why donkeys kick. They’ve heard the story, too!
I first heard (and loved) that story when I was quite young, and it’s stuck with me throughout my life. It’s so easy for us to be this way, you know? Because no matter what you do, someone will have a better idea, and if you grab that idea and run with it, you’re sure to trip over the bit you didn’t notice which turns your better idea into nothing but splat. Of course, we could learn wisdom, and wisely refrain from running after sparkly ideas. We could also learn discipline, and firmly refrain from the running with ideas at all. But if that sounds entirely too grown up and boring–faking it will also work.
So in honor of National Backwards Day and the spirit of faking it, I give you a truly inspired and enlightened Flash Friday piece!
Janine took a deep breath, flipped her ponytail back over her shoulder, and slid into the driver’s seat. Above all else, she wanted to appear competent and mature. The Driver’s Ed teacher, Mr. Gardner, had unfortunately been her P.E. teacher last year when she and Stephanie had that screaming meltdown, so proving to him she was responsible enough to drive wouldn’t be easy.
She smoothly slid the door shut, pulled out the key, and started the car. So far, so good. Glancing first at Mr. Gardner, beside her, then at the admin building’s big windows where the judging panel observed, she slid the car into gear.
“Ding, ding, ding, ding!” the car’s alarm warned her that she’d forgotten to buckle up. Groaning inside, Janine slipped a hand up and gave the seat belt a jerk. Unfortunately, the seat belt was stuck in the door–so much for being smooth when she shut it–and her jerk had more impact on the steering wheel than the seat belt.
“Fa-loomp!” She ran over the orange cone that was supposed to represent a street sign. “Thump, thump.” It bumped beneath the car’s tires.
Janine slammed on the brakes. Keeping her scream bottled up inside, she calmly opened the door, pulled the seat belt free, and buckled up. She turned to face Mr. Gardner, and projected her voice so the confident words would reach through the two-way speaker to her observers. “The driver’s handbook tells us we should always buckle up before putting the car into gear. This demonstration illustrates why that is so important.”
Mr. Gardner nodded gravely, and Janine turned back to the wheel. She put the car back into drive, but snuck a glance at Mr. Gardner as she drove. Why did he just nod? She’d expected him to order her out of the car and flunk her on the spot. Was he making fun of her?
She snuck another glance at him. Was that a smile turning up the corners of his mouth?
“Plip! Plip!” She’d wobbled her turn and run over the plastic bubbles marking the edges of what was supposed to be her parking space. She paused, feeling sick. Pushing back the nausea, she backed the car and took a second aim at the spot. What was it Nanna used to say? In for a penny, in for a pound? She swung the car wide and lined the tires up with the plastic bubbles she’d missed the first time.
“Plip! Plip!” They popped beneath the tires.
When she’d popped them all she gave a satisfied nod and once again spoke with calm authority. “When selecting a parking space, it is important to allow adequate space for the car to turn. A turn that is too sharp or too wide can result in damage to property or individuals.”
A murmur of approval came from the cars speakers–at least she hoped it was approval–and Mr. Gardner nodded again.
Putting the car back into drive, Janine felt a giddy rush fill her. No way could they really be falling for this, but at the same time, what did she have to lose? They couldn’t fail her any more at this point than they would anyway. And what if she really pulled this over on them?
Swerving right, then left, and back again, she took out the orange cones lining her supposed road, all the while maintaining a running monologue of all the rules she could remember from the handbook.
“Driver’s should maintain an adequate speed and keep control of their vehicle at all times.” Down went an orange cone. “If a driver is experiencing strong emotions, they may need to give themselves time before operating their vehicle. Strong emotions can impair an individuals ability to safely handle their vehicle.” Flip! Another cone went rolling.
The final stretch was before her, with a little yellow plastic man at the end, smiling as he held his red flag. Could she do it? Would it be going too far?
Oh, what the heck. “Remember that regardless of a crosswalk, driver’s must yield to pedestrians,” Janine said. She revved the car, and zoomed right over the smiling plastic man.
She jerked the car to a stop, and put it in park. “Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege. Each driver must demonstrate their understanding of the rules of the road, and ability to drive according to those rules of the road.”
Mr. Gardner smiled at her as he handed her a paper, covered with notes and little checked boxes. “Thank you, Janine. Take this into the admin building, where the judging panel is waiting.”
Janine nodded, and took the paper with one hand while popping her seat belt with the other. All across the long walk to the admin building she resisted the temptation to look at Mr. Gardner’s notes. He’d been a good sport, but no way had she passed. She’d broken pretty much every rule of the road.
The cool air of the admin lobby rushed to greet her, and the sound of applause followed it. Standing at the window, the observing judges clapped, and smiled as she entered.
Janine laughed, and smiled back. She handed the paper off to the secretary, and took a little bow. So what if she didn’t get her license? She never stood a chance once she made that first mistake, and she’d had fun.
“Here you go, Sweetie,” the secretary said. She held out Janine’s completed paperwork, and motioned her toward the photo booth. “Now smile big. You’ve earned it!”
Janine stumbled to the booth, but the smile she gave the camera was weak and uncertain. Two minutes later the secretary handed her the hard plastic rectangle of her temporary license. So…was this a nightmare? Or a daydream? She rubbed her fingers along the sharp plastic edge of the license, and felt it dig into her skin. No, this was real. She was awake.
“Congratulaions!” the secretary said. Impulsively, she gave Janine a hug. “That was just so amazing–a truly superior performance. I’m pleased to know I’ll be sharing the road with you!”
Janine smiled, and nodded. She waved bye to the judges, and pulled out her phone as she headed out the door. She’d really gotten her license! She couldn’t wait to tell her friends. But, would they believe her story?
You know, on second thought, I think I’ll refrain from sharing this flash piece with my soon-to-take-his-driver’s-test son. No need to give him ideas. 😉
Find other flash pieces on our Flash Friday page, and feel free to join us in the blog hop!