La vie est belle !

SoCS — Expect the unexpected!

EXPECT…(dun-dun-dun)…the UN (dun-dun-dun) EXPECTED!

I learned to drive a car when I was 16 years old, and that summer I took the local “Drivers Ed” course from a teacher named Mr. Ray. I was in the class with a handful of other students, and at the beginning, we met in a classroom to learn the driving laws and safety rules in order to pass the written portion of the written test.  That is the first time I ever heard of Richard Petty. We walked into the classroom, and the first day, Mr. Ray walked over to a cassette player — you know, the old kind that the top popped up and you put the cassette in and pushed it down, the typical “school classroom” cassette player. Like THIS <–click– gah, can’t believe they still make these! And they’re pricey!! And from that small, poor quality speaker came this booming voice saying “EXPECT…the UN…EXPECTED!”  Then after that dramatic introduction, we heard, with a twangy accent, the voice of Richard Petty, saying something like, “Hi! I’m Richard Petty. Now, I know that not everyone can be a famous stock car driver like I am, but I believe everyone can be a safe driver. I am going to give you some tips for staying safe on the roads…” This would be followed with a lesson about safe driving. Out of curiosity I looked for these recordings online and found this on WorldCat:

“Expect the Unexpected: the life-saver series on driving emergencies with Richard Petty”

Author: Richard Petty
Publisher: New York : Classroom World Productions, ©1974.
Edition/Format:   Audiobook on Cassette : Cassette recording : English
Database: WorldCat
Helps meet the very real need for minimizing driving emergencies and provides basic what-to-do information.

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This series is no longer available in any library anywhere. Can you imagine? I guess the drivers education department at the school I went to was a little “behind the times” even then because this series was published in 1974 and I took the class in 1986. Anyway, in doing my internet search I discovered that Richard Petty’s family is still interested in teaching people to drive safely, because I found this website for the “Petty Safe Driving Program” with his son in a video saying many of the same things that I learned from these cassettes. Good for them! I think it speaks well of these racing legends that they have done these things. I’ve seen ads for the “Richard Petty Driving Experience” where you get to have a taste of driving a real race car on a track for a few hundred bucks. Looks like it might be fun. Anyway, back to the old school tapes; apparently there were twenty-four cassettes and we listened to one per day for nearly a month. I mostly remember the intro, but I guess I must have absorbed some of it because I have a great driving record 🙂

I think the course was four weeks long plus “practical experience.”  This meant that for several mornings we split up into groups of three, got into a car with dual controls and we drove Mr. Ray to the 7-11 to get his coffee. Then we proceeded to learn basic control of the car, parking (straight in and parallel), driving in town and on the highway, obeying traffic signals, using turn indicators, all of those sort of things that we needed to pass the state driving test.

My group consisted of myself, my friend Christy, and a boy from another school. Mr. Ray called me and Christy “you two” and the boy, he called “Boy.” If we made a mistake, Mr. Ray would lick his index finger and make an invisible mark in the air. Boy asked how many marks we were allowed per day. Mr. Ray said, “Three.” Boy asked, “Then what?”  Mr. Ray said “Then you get a wet willy.”  (note: according to Wiki, In elementary schools and elsewhere, an assailant licks his or her finger, then gets behind a victim and inserts the finger into an ear canal.) Boy was quiet after that, and maybe that is why the three of us are very very safe drivers despite the fact that we learned to drive in New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment”, yes indeed, but also the “Land of the worst drivers you’ll see anywhere in this country and perhaps in the world.”  It’s even a joke, ” Q: Why do the residents of Colorado avoid highway 550 in the winter? A: To avoid the New Mexicans sliding sideways down it when it snows.” Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I do notice a serious lack of turn signals, driving at safe and consistent speeds, and general situational awareness in “other drivers” when I cross that state line as I go to visit my parents. I believe that both Mr. Ray and Richard Petty would be appalled.

Et vous, chers lecteurs? Am I the only one in the universe who remembers this cassette series? I can’t believe it’s stuck with me all these years. The brain is truly a strange animal, n’est-ce pas ? 


This post is part of Linda G Hill’s “Stream of Consciousness Saturday”  — Click and read, click and join in! Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “expect/unexpected.” Use either or both words in your post, or simply base your idea on them. Have fun!








6 Responses to “SoCS — Expect the unexpected!”

  1. John Holton

    Your Driver’s Ed teacher (at least the one you had in the car) was much better than mine. But that’s a story for another day.

    My guess is all of the copies of the tape stretched out, got twisted around a capstan, or broke, and no one thought to preserve #43’s words of wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Le génie

    Hum difficile pour moi de le savoir !!!
    Mais est-ce à cause de ces mauvais conducteurs que certains ont pris, pour éviter le danger, la route des airs ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LindaGHill

    I took private lessons, so no tapes for me. 😛 I’m still a pretty good driver – having a best friend who’s a driving instructor keeps me in line pretty well. 😉

    Liked by 1 person


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