Summer has rolled up on us once again, and with it comes a dire threat. Like shark fins slicing through a sea of metal roofs, the plastic cheese wedges of inexperience are becoming a common sight on the roads. That’s right, a fresh new batch of teenz are taking the wheel of their driver’s ed blandmobiles and shakily maneuvering them through your neighborhood, and Yr. Teen Kolumnist is among them! Terrifying, innit? But don’t worry, we are put through extensive training before we are even allowed to touch a car. Aww, who am I kidding: "mandatory safety" is about as American as socialized medicine and cricket.

Rest assured slightly less paranoid, we do have to sit through some boring-ass classes. The structure of each class is exactly the same: We are quizzed on what we were shown the previous day, told to take notes on a powerpoint about rules of the road, traffic laws, etc, and then shown videos about all the ways that we can die. The powerpoints have Actual Helpful Facts in them, and would be much more effective if they weren’t so boring. The one thing about them that isn’t marinated in ennui is the portion when we have to spot all the hazards in pictures. The rest of the slides struggle to hold our interest with fun little text animations. So fun! However, once we’ve reached the last agonizing slide, we must prepare ourselves, for guilt trips are coming.

“Why don’t they look?” videos have always been mocked, so the creators of safety and training films decided to take a page out of the GOP’s book.  They wrapped their tired old strategy in shiny new HD packaging and hoped that someone might buy it. Your average driver’s ed video delivers 4 messages. A) look at these happy folks, who are just like you and not paid actors at all. B) look at what they did so, so very wrong. C) watch them die horribly. D) THIS WILL BE YOU. And while these videos definitely get the point across, most teenz ignore the shit out of them. The only people actually paying attention to the videos are those who already know to wear their seatbelts, not text, watch the road, etc. These people are treated to the deluxe package of over the top blood, screaming, tears, and guilt trips. We were shown, without warning, pictures of a woman's bloody, gory face immediately after an accident, adorable British children asking for "mummy to wake up," etc. The only videos that might have an effect are the ones that actually have real people in them, and the peoples speech is, like, not really fluid, or, you know, like grammatically correct, kinda? The documentary "The Last Text" is one of these. However, as soon as you put real people on script, the whole damn thing crumbles.

Actually, most of what we do is a “You’re going to die” warning. The “projects” emphasize this heavily. First of all, we have to keep a crash log of all crashes that happen in Idaho during the month of driver’d ed. It depends on everyone remembering to bring rews reports to class, so we don’t actually get all of them, but we also have to read the entire news story and keep track of injuries and fatalities, whether people were wearing their seatbelts, and so on. Secondly, we have to write a hand written thank-you letter to our parents for putting us through driver’s ed. The purpose of this is so that when we die in a horrible crash from our stoopid teen behaviors, our parents will have something to remember us by. And finally, I shit you not, we had to write our own obituaries. We had to make up the circumstances of our death, write a three paragraph obituary on it, and then hand it in for a grade. And while some people just converted stories from our Guilt Trips R Us videos -- rolled the car 50 times, killed their whole family, that kind of thing -- I took the project as seriously as it deserved. Kid Zoom died in a crash with a drunk albino in a Rolls Royce, but was ultimately  at fault because he'd been staring at his phone, where he'd just gotten consecutive royal flushes in every suit. Also, he'd been temporarily blinded by identical snowflakes, one in each eye. My obituary got 100%, and the only comment on the paper was "Wow!"

So what does the great state of Idaho want me to learn about driving? It wants me to know that I will die a horrible, horrible death if I am not perfect. Next week: Kid Zoom takes to the road, expecting to die horribly, but finds that the classes never warned him about old people in RV's.

Kid Zoom is a high school student in the wilds of Idaho. He is about to make Doktor Zoom's insurance rates go through the roof. We pay him in gasoline and guilt trips. Doktor Zoom likes this sticker from Japan, which must be displayed on a new driver's car for a full year after they get their license. Kid Zoom is not going to drive Vlad The Impala, ever.


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