Driving Lesson on a Boat Ramp

I scanned a photo of my Grandfather today and it brought back so many great memories of him. One that I thought I would share was when I was about eleven or twelve years old, my grandfather took me fishing early in the morning like he loved to do.

My Grandfather

 Had you put all of his Grandkids on a school bus, they would have had to sit three to a seat, but somehow he managed to find time for all of us. We spent the day fishing and when it was time to put the boat back on the trailer, he backed his old Dodge pickup down the boat ramp while I held the rope to the boat.

Upon his return, he told me that he wanted me to go get in the truck and after he had the boat on the trailer, he wanted me to simply pull him out of the water.

I had never driven before and he knew this, but he gave me some simple instructions concerning how to put the truck in gear, holding the clutch, while applying some gas, etc…

I hopped into his truck and waited anxiously for him to give me the signal to pull him out of the water. Finally, I heard him give me the affirmative and I pushed in the clutch and started the truck. A couple of tugs on the gear shift on the column and I am now in first gear. I started to give a little gas and let out the clutch too quickly and the truck jumped and stalled.

As I was trying to get the engine restarted, I realized that this whole time, I do not have a third foot to put on the brake pedal, so I am slowly creeping backwards into the water. Panic set in about the time that water started to enter the floorboard of the truck.

I got the truck started and again, I stalled it. Thinking that my Grandfather might be upset, I just stomped on the brake and yelled for help.

I kept trying to find my Grandfather in one of the mirrors, but I could not see him in the boat. The old camper on the bed of the truck did not help the situation either.

Finally, I spotted him drifting sideways in the boat. He was laughing so hard that he could hardly breathe. He coached me through pulling the boat off the ramp one more time and this time, I mounted the top of the boat ramp like a NASCAR driver. I gave it way too much gas and let out the clutch too hard, so the wheels were spinning in the water and launched us up the boat ramp.

When we finally came to a screeching stop, I got out still feeling like I had committed a grave sin and I was surprised to see my Grandfather still laughing in the boat.

He commented that I would have to learn to drive stick and asked if I was hungry. Now that I am older, I see much wisdom in the way he responded to me submerging his truck off the boat ramp. He knew full well that at my age, I had never driven before and that it would take an somewhat experienced driver to perform that task, but he still allowed me to try and fail a couple of time before I pulled it off.

He never showed any anger over the fact that his seats were wet form the lake and instead, took me to Waffle House and laughed about the whole day.

Needless to say, that experience taught me that when teaching someone something, when they fail, it is not something to get angry about. Just stand back and let them learn.

I do think it is worthy to note that the next driving lesson with my Grandfather was on level ground. I learned a lot from that man.