My weekends

I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I are coaching our wise son in driving on the weekends. He’s wise because he wasn’t at all interested in driving, still isn’t, but only needs the instruction to make getting to work more manageable in a place with poor mass transit (he and I will both be happy in the next decade when smart self-driving cars become available). Anyway, here’s a taste of what being a driving instructor is like.

Not really, I’m lying. If anything, he’s extremely cautious, treating the car as a necessary tool that must be used carefully. It’s good to drive with someone who takes a mature attitude towards the vehicle!


  1. says

    Isn’t it just awesome to see women excel in typical “male” endeavors? I didn’t find the joke all that funny, but this girl made my day just the same.

  2. grumpyoldfart says

    If anyone pranked me like that I’d punch their fucken head in when we finally stopped.

  3. Becca Stareyes says

    My parents decided to just send us kids to driving school. After all, the instructors have brakes on the sides of their cars, have probably seen some shit AND could advise on the driving test.

  4. says

    I didn’t learn how to drive until I was 24. I lived in Phoenix for 8+ years without a car. A job I had forced me to learn, so I paid $350 for a professional instructor to teach me. I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I never allowed my mom or dad to teach me. My dad is great but man that would have been awful. He is not the most patient man lol.

    I’m still not a fan of driving. Moved to the east coast when the car I had for 5 years died, because it’s far more “normal” to not have a car in the east coast. I like my feet and my bike far more than being behind the wheel.

  5. drowner says

    @Erlend Meyer:

    It was not necessarily “part of the joke” that the student was a young-looking Asian girl. But it certainly took advantage of existing stereotypes to prime the instructors (all but one being male) for maximum nervousness. I think the white male instructor acted particularly boorish from the start. Hopefully he learned a little something about gender equality? (LOL right…)

  6. azhael says

    Isn’t it just awesome to see women excel in typical “male” endeavors?

    If by that you mean putting people in distressing situations that they haven’t consented to, no, it really, really isn’t…..

  7. Moggie says

    Just… no. An employer deliberately making employees fear for their lives, as a “joke”? They should be an ex-employer.

    Also, commenters? She’s not a fucking “girl”, you patronising shitlords.

  8. John Horstman says

    As a person who travels almost entirely by bicycle, I, too, look forward to a world with a substantial number of self-driving cars, as they will actually do things like signal turns and lane changes, check for traffic (including bicycles) before leaving a parking space, and just generally avoid running into me far more consistently than human drivers.

    @Moggie #7: If Leona Chin – or, more importantly, the character she is playing, as she is being intentionally costumed to appear to be younger – is a feminine-identified person under the age of thirty, the odds are overwhelmingly likely that she self-identifies as a “girl”. Indeed, her official Facebook page (verified by Facebook) is titled “Girl Drifter Leona Chin”, so she does indeed appear to self-identify that way.

    I actually got into an argument with my boss one time about this, becasue I referred to one of my classmates (in a Women’s Studies class, no less) as a “girl”, and my boss was very active in the Second Wave, during which getting people to substitute “woman” for what were considered to be infantilizing uses of “girl” when referring to adult women was a very big deal for many activists. I had to explain that my classmate (as well as nearly all of the young women in my peer group) self-identified by the term “girl” (and men below thirty or so in my social group tended to identify as “guys” rather than “men”), and this wasn’t considered by any of us to be infantilizing, but rather a means of generational differentiation from older people, serving a similar purpose to the popular 1960s slogan “Don’t trust anyone over 30”). For a widely-known example of this phenomenon, consider the television show Girls.

  9. Christopher says

    Also, commenters? She’s not a fucking “girl”, you patronising shitlords.

    While 30 is far from being a ‘girl’, she does self identify as such:

    “Girl Drifter Leona Chin”

    As far as drivers ed stories, my father required me to learn to drive and take the test using a totally stock 1952 Chevrolet pickup because, “if you can drive this, you can drive anything.” I think it was the only time the DMV tester was in a car without seatbelts. I passed with only one bullshit point deduction that I still contest.

  10. comfychair says

    ‘Distressing situations’… ‘fear for their lives'(!)

    Right. They may have initially thought they were about to die, but hey whaddayaknow, turns out she is an actual real-life professional driver. They were in fact in a less dangerous situation than if they’d been in the car with an actual real-life first time driver. FFS.

  11. unclefrogy says

    @10 while they were not in reality in as much danger as they would have been with a real first time driver the whole point of the “prank” was to make it appear that they were in imminent danger, to in fact scare the crap out of them without their knowledge or consent or at least to appear to do that.
    I personally do not find that sort of thing very funny.
    uncle frogy

  12. Fetchez la Vache says

    Didn’t watch. Pranks suck. Pranks that terrify people suck to the end of the universe. Consent: not that difficult a concept.

    @comfychair: “They were in fact in a less dangerous situation than if they’d been in the car with an actual real-life first time driver. FFS.”

    So if, as a prank, a complete stranger walks up to me on the street, pulls a gun out of their pocket, places it against my forehead, and pulls the trigger, it’s perfectly ok – FFS, no less – because I was actually in less danger than if I’d wandered into the “wrong neighborhood”, perhaps. And if I was terrified for my life, fuck me for not being able to take a joke; at least some other strangers got to laugh at my terror on YouTube.

  13. unclefrogy says

    I can appreciate the humor of saying that teaching your kid to drive may feel like that.
    I find that the actual prank is exploitative and inconsiderate. It walks a thin line for mere entertainment. Is it bulling and disrespectful?
    uncle frogy

  14. gillyc says

    Yeah, while she is clearly an amazing driver, I can’t imagine why anyone would think this is a good way to treat their new employees ….
    I did once have a colleague who was forever making ‘jokes’ about ‘women drivers’ (I don’t think he actually even thought women are bad at driving, he just liked pissing people off) – it would be funny if it was done to him, or someone like him.

  15. Alaric says

    I think I might have to try a few of those moves this next weekend. When are you adding those to the lesson plan?

  16. AlexanderZ says

    “Women racing”? Why is there even a divide? What, did our hunter-gatherer male ancestors chased mammoths on their Dodges?

  17. David Schilling says

    As one who has to pay for his own track tires… I find drifting a serious waste of resources. I’d love to have some of that skill throwing the car around… but the waste of rubber and fenders keeps that form happening.

  18. moarscienceplz says

    Everybody in my high school who wanted it (which was everybody) got free driving instruction. Of course, that was before Ronald Raygun made us all realize that government can’t do anything right.

  19. says

    (What I mean is we don’t know if they are referencing one movie, “Tokyo Drift”, form the franchise, or just generally referencing the entire franchise… either fit.)

  20. says

    “Germany court orders measles sceptic to pay 100,000 euros”

    Not on topic but I thought you guys would enjoy this:

    “A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that measles is a virus has been ordered by a court to pay up.
    Stefan Lanka, who believes the illness is psychosomatic, made the pledge four years ago on his website.
    The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings.
    But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient.

  21. says

    I am lucky to live in a country where this particular stupidity of a joke would mostly not be possible. Because trainee cars are mostly specially modified cars – the instructor has extra brake and clutch pedals installed on their side in order to be able to stop the car in dangerous situations.

    I do not find such pranks funny. They maybe funny in a movie or somesuch, when everything is just ana act, a pretence. But to wilfully scare someone out of their wits… Not funny. Not funny at all. But assholish? Definitively.

  22. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Ah, the illusion of a dangerous situation to psychologically terrify some people is torture. Whether the purpose is amusement or to gain information, it is still torture.

  23. numerobis says

    I too got sent to a proper driving school. My dad claimed it was because that way he’d get a rebate on car insurance and thus would save money, but in retrospect I’m pretty sure it’s because driving school taught me a lot that people often don’t learn.

    Like how to scan the road so you don’t get surprised by something that happened 30s up the road from you — lots of my friends *accelerate* when there’s a tiny bit of room ahead of them, even though we’re going into a traffic jam, and suddenly they slam on the brakes because surprise! there’s a traffic jam./petpeeve

  24. Christopher says

    Like how to scan the road so you don’t get surprised by something that happened 30s up the road from you — lots of my friends *accelerate* when there’s a tiny bit of room ahead of them, even though we’re going into a traffic jam, and suddenly they slam on the brakes because surprise! there’s a traffic jam./petpeeve

    Hence why you teach them on a 1952 Pickup: with manual drum brakes and bias ply tires trying to stop an excess amount of steel, you better leave a good following distance and always try to read the road as far forward as you can. Oh, and if you do crash, you’ll probably die because in the pre-Nader days it seems cars were intentionally designed to kill their occupants in a crash. No seatbelts, metal dash, non-collapsing steering column aimed at your chest, gas tank in the cab behind the bench seat, even the non-detachable rearview mirror could easily kill you. And if you happen to survive the accident, you’ll wish you were dead due to the shame of destroying a truck your dad spent eight years restoring.

    Hardcore driver training. Drive perfect or die.

  25. says

    comfychair (#29) –

    It reminded me of a story told to me by an Italian medical doctor, Riccardo Ceccarelli, who specializes in working with racing drivers, especially Formula One drivers. As a teenager he had taken a racing course in Italy, as he had wanted to be a driver. There were around 30 students taking part, and before they drove their first laps in a racing car, they split up into groups of five or so and drove the track in a regular car, just to look at the circuit.

    One of the teenage drivers was assigned to drive the car, while the others were passengers, and only one of those 30 drivers was scared at how fast the other driver was taking them around the track.

    “Slow down! Slow down! Be careful!” he yelled, practically in tears, and clearly horrified by being a passenger in the road car.

    Ceccarelli refused to say exactly who the young man was, but he said, “That was the only one of those 30 drivers who made it into Formula One.”

  26. chigau (違う) says

    I hate pranks and practical jokes but if someone tried to punch my fucken head in over one, they’d draw back a bloody stump.

  27. mildlymagnificent says

    I didn’t even watch the vid – I’m another who dislikes “pranks”. However, PZ’s first line reminded me of a classic blog post.

    Anyone who’s ever had to deal with a class of stroppy year nines will recognise the student/s caricatured here. (You will miss out on the experience of one of my daughters dramatic reading of this slumped sideways on an armchair, legs over the arm, with a lot of plaintive – whining – voice work.)

  28. randay says

    My, my, there are a lot of touchy people here. I wonder how many have watched and laughed at stupid hidden camera TV shows. I thought this was funny and a good lesson for future driving instructors.

    As to #20 moarscienceplz, I had the same free driver training in a California high school in the 60’s. For more practice on weekends I drove with my father or mother. Conservatives claim to want schools to teach practical knowledge in schools. What is more practical than learning to drive? That ended, Thank you Reagan. With my school training I got my first license at 16 and my parents bought me a second-hand car. My friends also had driving licenses and we car-pooled to our school because public transportation was terrible in our area. It still is.

    I don’t have a car when I visit my family home and there is only one bus an hour to take me to the trolley line, so my mother drives me to it and then I can get around pretty well.

  29. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    that woman was covering her eyes and screaming.

  30. nichrome says

    Haw! You know what else would be funny to film? Hire a professional masseuse to go into a restaurant on a server’s first day. Then have the masseuse touch the server without his/her consent – rubbing the shoulders, rubbing the small of the back – and record the reaction of the server! Hilarity all around, right! And it’s okay because the masseuse is a trained body-toucher, right?

    As someone up-thread mentioned, what the driver did to these people is psychological abuse – and perhaps even physical abuse. Maybe some of the instructors had neck problems and having their body jerked around will cause them pain or injury. Also what if one of the instructors had reacted by grabbing the steering wheel thus removing the control of the driver?

    I like many a good prank – but this one was stupid, abusive, and dangerous.

  31. David Marjanović says

    Everybody in my high school who wanted it (which was everybody) got free driving instruction.

    It blows my mind that this was a thing in the US of all places. It’s entirely in the hands of private business over here (unless you join the army).

    Makes sense, though: in the US more than anywhere, driving is a basic skill most adults need for a halfway bearable life.

  32. comfychair says

    Hands over eyes and screaming might not be the appropriate reaction you want in a driving instructor where non-fake dangerous situations involving non-fake novice drivers might require the instructors to take control. I think they all failed miserably.

  33. says

    comfychair #38:

    Anybody want to sign my online petition to outlaw rollercoasters?

    Well, since you introduced the analogy, let’s make it actually analogous, shall we?

    I would almost certainly sign one to outlaw the practice of tricking people into enduring rollercoaster rides, by telling them that the vehicle they’re entering is a golf-buggy. I would definitely sign one to outlaw the practice of doing so by first convincing them that the operator is inexperienced to the point where they cannot yet be considered competent to control a golf-boggy safely, let alone a driver-operated rollercoaster module.

  34. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    Anybody want to sign my online petition to outlaw rollercoasters?

    If I ride a roller coaster, I’m pretty much signing up to covering my eyes and screaming.

    I am almost entirely sure that, while theoretically possible, it is not something a driving instructor could reasonably expect to happen (especially as orchestrated by their employer).

    (and I’m writing this as someone whose driving instructor used the word “terrifying” in relation to my driving)

  35. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    David Marjanović,

    On one hand, I am glad that over here you can’t obtain a driver’s license without taking classes, but on the other…. those classes are damned expensive.
    With all the additional expenses and a couple of extra hours I’m taking before the exam, the whole thing will cost me about 1 and a half pay checks. And I have a reasonably good pay for our conditions.
    And that’s if I don’t fail on the first try. If I do, it won’t be cheap since there are more mandatory classes which are quite expensive, as well as the exam itself.

  36. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    He’s wise because he wasn’t at all interested in driving

    And more significantly, he didn’t choose to put his goddamn car in the way despite being disinterested in driving.

  37. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Anybody want to sign my online petition to outlaw rollercoasters?

    People know ahead of time they’re getting on a roller coaster and consent to it, shit for brains.