I used to be a lot younger. 30 years ago, like any 18 year old guy who spends thousands of dollars customizing his Camaro, I loved to drive! Even a motorcycle crash leaving me brain damaged and half paralyzed couldn’t keep me from driving.
But Harborview Hospital doesn’t have a driver retraining program, plus my doctors were saying I’d never be able to drive again. So, after my release, I visit a Seattle hospital that does have a driver retraining program.They ask for my records. A doctor examines them and says: “I’m sorry, you won’t be able to drive again.”
Huh? What does he mean, “I’m sorry?” He doesn’t understand. I have to drive! Luckily, Dad believes I can drive again. But He doesn’t believe it strong enough to let me learn how in his car. Because a new emissions standard law would have require me to replace the glass packs with an actual exhaust system, because I’m experiencing a temporary shortage of funds,and because the nobody but me thinks I’ll be able to drive again, before selling my pride and joy, Dad takes me over the pass in it for a long drive on roads with interesting curves and little traffic.
Luckily, my 5th grade music teacher has an old car he lets us use. With Dad in the passenger seat, I drive between and through all the small towns on Seattle’s eastside. One time, as I’m driving out of the small town of Redmond, these blue lights start flashing and a siren wails.
“Oh no! What does he want?”
I start braking as I pull over onto the wide shoulder and coast to a stop as I’m looking in my rear view mirror, This short, stocky cop climbs out of his car and does the John Wayne march up to my car. I roll my window down. He stops beside my car and looks at me through my open window.
“How much have you had to drink?”
“I haven’t had anything,” I blurt.
I don’t know if he understands me or not, but when he hears my speach impairment his expression changes so fast his glasses almost fall off. Dad appropriately jumps into the conversation and explains that I sustained a head injury in a motorcycle crash and I’m currently preparing to get my drivers license back.
Admiration crosses the officer’s face. “I hope you do it,” he says.
I get a pre test manual from the DMV and study it. Chasing the driving dream fills my days, as well as my heart and mind.
I remember leaning on my cane and limping down a hallway I limped down about a million times before. I stop in front of the same old door. Knock, knock, knock.
“Come in.” I turn the knob and hobble in, going straight to the same old chair.
My heart beats wildly. I’ve waited for this moment. I’ve rehearsed it in my head. I know every detail. Slowly, dramatically, I get comfortable, relishing every moment.
“So sir, do you think I’ll ever drive again?”
“Al, we’ve been over this and over this. You will never drive again.”
The time has come. I smile as I reach for my wallet. I smile even wider as I pull out my reacquired drivers’ license and hold it up.
WINNERS Don’t Quit! Winners DON’T Quit!! Winners Don’t QUIT!!!