Learning the Hard Way

bike

I recently saw an ad for an insurance company. In the clip a parent ran behind a young boy, who was learning to ride a bicycle. The parent let the grinning, helmeted tyke go and he pedaled away with a huge smile on his face.

I’ve got a pretty good idea where they came up with this idea — from the experience of people like me. I was an eager young tot when my sister “taught” me to ride a bike. She took me to the top of the incline in our driveway that ran beside our house. I sat on the bike and ignored her suggestions the way you ignore the safety instructions delivered by an airline attendant.

How hard could it be? I was ready to rock.

My sister ran alongside me, holding one half of the handlebars. Then she let go. I zipped down the hill, shot past our house, and headed for the street.

From the back by the garage I heard my sister shout, “Brake!” I wasn’t paying attention during the safety instructions, so I didn’t know how to perform this task. There were no brakes on the handlebars, and the idea that the pedals could spin in reverse to slow the bike never occurred to me.

Years later I found myself teaching teenagers how to drive cars. Trust me, we covered braking on Day One.

I shot into the street and executed a shaky turn to the left. This put me on a direct collision course with the sole car parked on our suburban street. But I lucked out — the rear bumper and then the rear windshield prevented me from running into the telephone pole behind the car.

Following a trip to the ER and a few stitches in my lip, I was ready to try again. My sister was a good teacher because I learned to jump right in with any new endeavor. But there was no way I was going to let her teach me how to swim. We left that one to the professionals.

Postscript: Years later, I found myself teaching teenagers how to drive cars. Trust me. We covered braking on Day One.

(photo courtesy of Arztsumai/Freedigitalphotos.net)

About Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of "So Much Time, So Little Change" (a collection of humor essays). He also writes short posts for the humor website HumorOutcasts.com . Please visit his author website at: www.thomassullivanhumor.com

About Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of "So Much Time, So Little Change" (a collection of humor essays). He also writes short posts for the humor website HumorOutcasts.com . Please visit his author website at: www.thomassullivanhumor.com

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