Gen X then and now: driving
This is a weekly column every Monday. Read last week’s Gen X then and now here.
Some things have improved, certainly in terms of safety but some things seem a little nutty.
Then: You and a bunch of friends want to go to the mall, so you all pile into the back of your dad’s pickup truck and it’s like a party with 10 of you hanging out the back interacting with people driving cars and causing general mayhem. The ride there was half the fun.
Now: Your daughter wants to go to the mall with her friends. You tell her she has to limit the number to the number of seatbelts you have in your SUV.
Then: You only had an am radio so you carried your boom box with a tape deck with you at all times for music.
Now: You can still easily listen to the music of your high school years on satellite radio.
Then: You got your driver’s license the day you turned 16. You had taken driver’s ed and had maybe two hours with the instructor and four other kids.
Now: You kids’ can’t get their license until they’ve taken the course, the test, and had 180 verified hours of driving. Plus, they are not eligible to drive at night until they’ve held their license for a year.
Then: You take a pic, sign your license and leave. Your parents aren’t involved.
Now: You have to go with your kids to sign off on their license. Speaking of signing, standing there at the DMV window you realize your child doesn’t know how to sign their full name in cursive. You wonder how they function sometimes…
Then: You used to panic at stoplights because it took a minute to get the stick shift to snap into gear and you were really worried you might roll backwards into the guy behind you who almost routinely seemed to be some dude who would start honking like crazy the minute the light changed.
Now: Your kids got bumper stickers that say “Be patient, student driver”. You think this is brilliant. Maybe you could also get one that says “If you see me on my phone while driving, text a pic to my mom”. You could then rest easy your kids isn’t doing anything stupid. You start to remember some of the dumbass stuff you used to do as a teen driver and shudder.
Then: Your car battery dies. It’s way too much money to replace it, so you make sure to always park on a hill and pop the clutch to start the car. Your friends all help by giving it a running push when there is no hill available.
Now: Your car battery is dead. You have no choice but to fork over $380 to replace it. What ever happened to stick shifts?
Then: If you were short on gas money you would scrounge up change from around the house and stick 85 cents in the tank. It was enough to get you to your friend’s house. If you were lucky enough to live in a state that paid to recycle cans, you could collect a bunch and have enough to go cruising around from fast food joints to 7/11 looking for other teens.
Now: It costs $50 to fill the tank. Your kids need to get a job because you can’t afford to keep giving them gas money.