Saturday, January 26, 2008

ten and two




The only thing worse than having to get up early on a Saturday morning to sit through a five hour class about driving safety is having to do it for the second time. Of course, it's my own fault, I never took my road test after the first five hour class and the certificate elapsed after a year. But still...damn.

However, having now attended more than one of these classes, I am free to make sweeping generalizations. My teacher this time around was an older man named Mr. Cohen, who introduced himself as such and said that we could feel free to call him by his first name, though he never actually elaborated what that first name was. My theory is that it was "Mister."

This city being (as I was told in second grade) a melting pot, my class this time around was largely composed of foreign nationals who for reasons of business have recently relocated to New York and require a New York State driver's license. As with last time, the actual amount of information conveyed in this class (which is universally called "the five hour class," its length apparently being the salient feature above all else) if condensed, would probably only take up about an hour, which further illustrated another requirement for those hoping to teach this course. You have to be able to talk a lot about nothing in particular, and you have to be able to go off on long, winding tangents. Well, you know, mission accomplished. Nothing against this guy, he was a sweet old man, and he meant well, but...

Well, let me just include an excerpt from the "don't drink and drive" portion of the talk. This seems to invite the greatest degree of elaboration from any driving instructor apparently, and turns even the most science-illiterate layman into an internal medicine consult. After being treated to an elaborate and long-winded theory on how alcohol gets "diluted by body fat" and how the liver "absorbs the alcohol from the stomach," Mr. Cohen then elaborated on some of the international laws surrounding DUI.


MR. COHEN
(Pacing in front of his desk)
But here in New York, I think we have it easy. In Bulgaria, I believe if you're caught driving under the influence, you're executed. (Pause) Anyone here from Bulgaria?

(Crickets)


MR. COHEN
Also, in France, or Paris, one of those places, if a man is caught DUI, not only is he thrown in jail,
his wife is also arrested and thrown in jail.

(The two French guys in the front row exchange glances.)

MR. COHEN
Or maybe it's in Japan.

(The Swede sitting by the window looks at MICHELLE.)

MICHELLE
(Whispering)
I'm pretty sure that's not true. But also, I'm not Japanese.


Anyway, it was fine, and everyone in the class, being adult, was exceedingly mature and polite about all of this. No one even complained that we had to watch two videos about The Dangers of Drag Racing and didn't get a chance to watch the video about Driving Tips for the Urban Environment, which, you know, may have been somewhat useful.

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