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Mom and Tag - Olivia Newport

Photo by Larry Mohr

I was 16 and learning to drive. This was the era—all of my childhood, really—when my dad rode a commuter train from our Chicago suburb to downtown Chicago.

It was a rare thing for him to leave a car at the train station—we didn’t have an extra car to sit idle all day. Someone dropped him at the station in the morning, then went on to school or whatever. Then we fetched him in the evening. Several of my siblings and I essentially learned to drive on these ritual twice-daily outings.

We only had to go through one sort of major intersection, meaning it had a light. We had the right of way going straight, but I would get unnerved by people eager to turn left in front of me. I always hesitated. So the other driver would start to go. Then I would remember that I was supposed to go. Inch by inch.

Yikes. My mom, in the passenger seat (probably with her foot going through the floor like all self-respecting parents) once said,

“Just decide what you’re going to do and then do it.”

Best driving advice I ever got.

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