Teen Driver

Commonwealth Seal










Some of you may have read my post a while ago about Learning to Drive.  If not, go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you can’t be bothered, it is about riding around with my son while he is learning to drive.  But it is also about my father and his early driving experiences.  Here is an excerpt:

When I was 14, I was able to get a driver’s license and began to deliver the milk in bottles door to door in Shenandoah each morning as well as to two grocery stores before school. Floyd had taught me to drive our Model T Ford when I was about 10 years old, so I had no trouble getting a driver’s license. The dairy really saved us during the Depression.

My son is not 14 and has no need to deliver milk.  Although any additional income would obviously be welcome.

No, times have changed.  In the Commonwealth of Virginia – yes, it is a commonwealth, not a state, although there is no difference – anyway, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in order for a minor to get a driver’s license they have to:

  • Pass a multiple choice written test and eye exam.  This gets them their Learner’s Permit.
  • Attend a state-approved driver education program
  • Attend a one hour session with parent or guardian on driving safety.
  • Hold  the Learner’s Permit for 9 months during which time the student must drive a motor vehicle for at least 45 hours, at least 15 of which were after sunset, as certified by his parent or legal guardian.
  • Attend 14 hours of behind the wheel training by a certified official.
  • Pass the on road driving test.
  • This will get them a provisional license which is good for 180 days.
  • They will then get a court summons to go before a Judge for a licensing ceremony.  This usually lasts about 30 minutes, after which they will get their valid driver’s license that will expire when they turn 20.

Whew!  I seriously doubt my father went through any of that.

So we are now waiting for a court date.  And my insurance has tripled.



I figure I’ve been in about 80 airports around the world.  That’s a lot of time spent in airports.  I started out at 7 months and just kept going.  As a typical TCK, I learned to fly before I walked.  By the time I was 11 months old I had been in a car, on a train, on a plane, on a boat and up a funicular.  All those “at what age” questions in my baby book were full in no time.

I know some people feel at home in airports, or love being in airports.  I hate them.  For the most part, they are just boring.  I have spent hours zoned out, jet lagged, and sleep deprived on hard benches waiting for the weather to clear or the congestion to ease up or to make up for a lost connection.

Some of my life’s most terrifying experiences happened at airports.

When I was 14, I was in boarding school in Austin, Texas.  In the fall my parents had moved from Mexico City to Bogota, Colombia.  That winter break I was due to fly to Bogota, someplace I had never been.  My route was Austin, Houston, Miami, Bogota.

I got through Houston okay.  I had never been to Miami airport before and it was a very long way from the gates to the ticket counter.  For some reason I thought I could get my boarding pass at the gate so I just found the gate I was leaving from and hung around there.  When they called for us to board the plane, I showed them my ticket and they told me I did not have a boarding pass.  I didn’t understand the problem.  They told me I would have to go to the ticketing counter to get the pass.

Now, they were already boarding the plane and the ticketing counter was miles away.  I freaked out.  All they said was, “you will need to hurry so you don’t miss the plane”.  I ran as fast as I could down to the ticket counter, I barged to the front of the line in a panic.  They gave me a boarding pass and I ran as fast as I could back to the gate, sure I would miss the plane and wondering what I would do.

It seems that whenever I was in these kinds of situations, I never had much money and I never had needed contact information.  I just got on airplanes and expected everything to go okay and didn’t worry about it.  Had I missed that flight, all I had was my parent’s address in Bogota.  No phone number, no other contact info.  I suppose I could have called my brother but I’m not even sure I had his contact info.  After all I was 14 years old.

But I was lucky, I made the flight and my parents were at the airport to meet me at the other end.  There were times when things didn’t go that well, but somehow I always managed to get where I was going.  Over the years, I learned there were times when you really could depend on the kindness of strangers.

Do you have any airport stories?