underestimation

I should have known. I should have seen it coming. But I was mislead, tricked by the cute little cars strung together.

I had underestimated it, snickered at the sign that told me to rest my head against the headrest back while the ride “launched” me.

Launched. Yeah right.

I rolled my eyes at the people on the ride in front of me who screamed as it took off. Lightweights.

I thought it was going to be a fun, kiddish ride.

I was so very wrong.

It wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion. I mean, it was a roller coaster ride with baby Mini Coopers strung together. You don’t look at a Mini Cooper ride and think “oh yeah, this is going to be intense.”

But they weren’t kidding when they said “launched.” That ride rocketed us like projectile vomit. And it only got worse.

This theme park rated their rides on a scale from 1 (aka merry-go-round) to 5. If I had checked the brochure, it would have told me these cute little cars had earned a 5, ie “extreme thrill ride.”

Whoops.

I had taken it at what I presumed was face value. I looked at the little cars and thought “how cute; this will be a nice, easy-going ride.”

I should have known. I’ve been underestimated too. People look at me and make assumptions about who I am and what I can do. (Of course, that’s assuming they see me at all. I’m quite good at being invisible.)

I’m getting better, though, at letting people see who I am from the start, at being unafraid to show my personality.

But I underestimate more than just rides; I underestimate people too, sometimes. I rely too much on what I can see and not enough on potential. And other times I overestimate people, but I’d rather assume good than bad. Sure, if you assume the worst, you’ll be protected against disappointment, but what kind of life is that? It might be a risk, but I’d rather think well of people.

Maybe not of roller coasters, though. I’m going to be suspicious of them for the rest of my life.

 

drive on

I saw a student driver today. It’s been a while. The roads are so insane around here, they’re probably only allowed around the neighborhoods until they have their official licenses. I felt bad for the kid, driving in evening traffic, even if it was just around the suburbs.

And it reminded me of my first driving lesson. When I finally got scheduled for the driving portion of driver’s ed, I was thrilled. I was so ready to drive. The moment I sat behind that wheel and let my foot off the brake (never mind the gas, we just rolled the car first), all I could think was “I’m in charge of something that can kill people.”

No lie. I’d never had that much power before, and I seriously felt the weight of it. It’s a wonder I made it through driver’s ed at all, since every time I drove I thought about the immense responsibility it is to operate a car.

But it wasn’t all seriousness. Somehow humor invades my life constantly. In this case, it was in the form of my driving instructor.

When I first got in the car, I noticed something curious. He had two half-full bottles of Diet Coke.

How funny, I thought. Maybe he’s really forgetful or something.

Until I found out… one of them wasn’t really Diet Coke. See, my driving instructor liked chewing tobacco. As in the dried stuff that people put in their mouths and chew, for some reason that is completely beyond me. But when you’re in a vehicle and you’re chewing tobacco, there are limited spaces to spit.

Yep.

So there I was, driving, trying not to think about how I could easily kill someone if I were distracted for just one moment when the guy to my right starts spitting tobacco juice into a Diet Coke bottle.

“Turn right up here.” *ptt* “Watch that stop sign.” *ptt*

You know what I want to watch, sir? I want to watch you not get oral cancer, how bout that? How bout we save your life right now?

As if that wasn’t enough humor, there was one of the other students I drove with. A sweet girl who had trouble going with traffic. I mean, it really doesn’t matter which ramp you take onto the highway, right?

Now I lay me down to dieinahorribleaccidentonthehighway.

But she did fine sometimes. So she’d congratulate herself. Out loud.

And I congratulated myself silently for still being alive.

Fun times.

Bottom line? I’m still alive. I’m still a responsible driver. And I can’t even look at Diet Coke.