Peter – 1976: Year of the Pinto

1976 was a watershed year for me in many ways. I got married, started my career with the federal government…..and I got my driver’s licence. My girlfriend/fiancée/wife had a baby blue 1972 Ford Pinto hatchback which she called “Bebe Car”. It was a reliable mode of transportation and carried us to many places safely.

She bought it from the sister of a friend of her sister. The woman had sold it on her husband’s direction, because he “didn’t like the colour” a) She went everywhere in it, it was cheap to operate, reliable and easy to drive. We had some adventures with it! Once she came up to Orillia before we were “an item”. I was standing by her door saying goodbye to her when she began to roll up her window while looking at her radio. I wasn’t paying attention, until she trapped the fingers of my right hand. I tapped (;) ) on the window to get her attention, she promptly cranked the window higher! I wound up on my knees in the driveway, with tears in my eyes.

Another time, I was taking a model aircraft to a hobby shop to be displayed. b) I put the model on the passenger’s seat and went back in to get something from the apartment. I came back to the car, but the door was locked. Marg (my wife) opened the door, but then dropped her hand onto the seat. “What’s this?” she asked, while dropping her hand a few more times onto my now ruined model aircraft. Scratch that trip.

So my brother in law taught me to drive. I arranged for my road test, and he would come with me, because you have to have a licenced driver with you in case you fail your road test. Now it happened that I had a unit supervisor who was a bit of a jerk. Two weeks before my road test, he called me to his desk and denied me the time off because he said that I wasn’t pulling my weight in the unit. Crestfallen, I advised my brother in law, but did not have the chance to cancel the road test.

About a week before the road test, the unit supervisor called my immediate supervisor and I to his desk. He now allowed me the time off for my road test c) in a benevolent tone of voice. I said that the person going with me had changed their plans and could no longer come. My immediate supervisor laughed, and the unit supervisor, in an amazing show of compassion to me, told my supervisor that he would go with me.

On the appointed day, I got into my supervisor’s Rabbit and he regaled me with disco music as we journeyed to my place. I opened the garage barn doors to back “Bebe car” out, and a cat’s paw of wind sent a door against my fender. And yes, the “crunch” was audible. I looked at the fender, obviously just damaged, with a medicine ball sized dent and green house paint. Sighing, I jumped in the wounded car and treated my supervisor to rock music all the way to the test centre.

Upon arriving at the centre, an examiner came to the car with me. I rushed ahead to try to shield the obviously recent damage from him. My effort was unsuccessful. My supervisor was relieved to go and sit in the centre to wait for us. I started the car, and it began to rain.

The test was uneventful. I turned too tightly a few times, but he didn’t jump out of the car. He told me that I could go back to the centre, but I said “Wait! I haven’t parallel parked yet!” He looked astounded, but nodded that I could. Not only did I parallel park, but I parallel parked facing uphill, in the rain.

I drove back to the test centre, glowing from a job well done. I pulled in, shut off the car……and the rain stopped!

Se you soon.

  1. a) Even then that sounded strange to me.
  2. b) A Ki-84 Hayate of the 104th Sentai, as used in Manchuria against the Russians in August 1945. (Yes they did!)
  3. c) I learned later that he had misread a report and misinterpreted my production. Typically, he didn’t tell me that he had made a mistake.

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