I am studying to get my Learner’s Permit.
From the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
For the second time.
In 50 years.
Because I have not had a license of any kind for two decades, they are making me start all over.
I am trying to figure out the road signs for the test.
This one means: “Surely you jest!”
In the Bay State, that is.
My love affair with Boston really started in the Bicentennial summer of 1976.
When I got a job at Avis Rent-a-Car in Park Square.
Our main task: To go back and forth to Logan Airport to bring cars to waiting customers downtown.
Which meant fighting traffic on the Southeast Expressway.
In recent years, they covered over this wacky road and created the Greenway.
So I can walk to the North End without risking my life.
Going through the Callahan Tunnel was a real treat.
A few dozen times a day.
This is a Boston Globe photo from that time.
Note the Avis office in Park Square on the left.
And check out our next-door neighbor.
But the bunnies didn’t really didn’t thrill me at all.
(I mean, Uncle Rick had brought one to my 13th birthday party.)
Instead, I would take my lunch break in the Public Garden, just across Boylston Street.
As I enjoyed a respite from motorist mayhem, I fell in love with the place.
As you all know by now.
Hurry! While we’re young!!
Our boss at Avis was a guy named Mohamed Hussein.
He yelled a lot.
GETCAHS! GETCAHS! NODELAYS! PENETRATE! GETCAHS!
Or when there were a lot of angry customers waiting:
This meant we had the green light to do whatever it took to get back to Park Square.
Stag Party Ahead
The first person back from the airport got a glaring nod of approval.
The last person back – well, you wouldn’t want to be that person.
If you got stopped by the police? Or sent to jail?
That would be a DELAY.
Wrap your car around a pole? That would definitely put you in last place.
Or, as the racing report would put it, DNF.
Time for tea!
Needless to say, this encouraged a lot of very illegal and very dangerous driving activity.
I remember once having to break in a new employee.
By showing her how to get to Logan real fast.
Guys getting paid to fuck up traffic
She lasted about an hour.
When we got back to Park Square, she jumped out of the car to run into the office and quit.
I couldn’t help but notice that she had left the seat wet.
A few years later, I went on a trip to Europe with these miscreants, my buddies from high school.
From left: Mike Krone, The Author, Don DeAmicis, our late teacher Freeman Frank, and Mike Festa.
Who is now the state director for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Which means he has finally made himself useful!
Well, the four of us went to Europe.
They rented a car, and they wanted me to share the driving duties.
“If you stop in front of me, you are going to the Moon!”
While I was behind the wheel on a mountain road in Spain, pieces of rubber started flying in the passenger-side window.
“Falz, slow down!”
”Probably just the tire, Big D.”
I didn’t have to drive after that.
I never get nervous in the passenger seat of a car.
Because if I were going to go that way, I would have done myself in a long time ago.
I did not drive once in all the time I was in London.
The Brits have no idea how lucky they were.
Driving in a city is something I would never do again.
Hey, I’m just glad I’m still alive!
But if I want to see the real America, I will have to rent a car.
To get my license the second time, I will need adult supervision.
When I got my first learner’s permit, that duty fell to my father.
I can still see him stomping his foot on the passenger-side floor.
“Hey, Dad! The brake is over here!”
Turn right. If you have the balls!
This time, my friend Bobby has agreed to help me hone my skillz.
We will go to the cemetery to practice my driving.
That way, I can’t hurt anybody.
I’m sure it will all be fine.
I mean, what could go wrong?