Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Say What? Blowing through the scrapheap of my mind

Cub Scout field trips; like a family outing only you can't threaten them with their very existence if they don't tone down and stop acting like monkeys on crack.

We went to a recycling/landscape materials company. The boys thought the aluminum can crusher was the best. They dumped cans into the hopper and then rushed to the trailer catching the misshapen lumps at the end.

We wandered around with the only employee in the yard that day. He would leave us every once in a while to take care of a customer. We watched a backhoe scoop broken wooden pallets into a huge shredder. The resulting chips are later dyed different colors to be sold as landscaping mulch.

On our own we passed by piles of army vehicle rollbars, vaccuums, computer monitors, bicycles, plastic flower pots, electric meters, chrome bumpers and.....huge consoles with steering wheels, seats, gear shifters and pedals but no video screens. All seven of them climbed into the seats to pretend to drive. Little did they know that once upon a time, I had done the same thing but it was a serious business - yup - they were old driver's ed simulators.

I remember sitting at one of those things and trying to get the shifting right while watching a film play out on a wall. Stop. Left turn. Accelerate. Slow down. Stop. Wait for the light to change. Turn right. Parallel park. It was the most frustrating thing because the film would keep on going even if I made a mistake, so I never realized when the "engine" stalled until the instructor would tap me on the shoulder and show me the "gauges" that showed I had to "start" the car again.

After wandering around a bit and reminding each scout umpteen times, "whatever you find here, stays here", we got back to the building where our errant tour guide was sorting through more scrap. I told him the boys loved the driver's ed simulators out back.

He looked at me like he didn't know what I was talking about.

"You know, the boxes with the steering wheels and bucket seats and side mirrors?"

He says, "Oh. Is THAT what they are?"

I suddenly felt like Rip Van Winkle. I mean come ON! It's only been a quarter century since I used one of those things. Most kids can tell a rotary phone IS a phone even if they've only used push button ones or cell phones, right? Right?!

Oh dear.


Andy said...

I know what you're talking about. I went through old simulators too. However, instead of a television monitor, ours were in a movable trailer that had a movie screen at one end. The thing I didn't get while I was there was the mirrors behind the bucket seats. It took me about the third day to realize I had to look back at the mirrors to simulate looking over my shoulder. Sheesh, I felt dumber in a simulator than in a real car.

The Mom said...

Um, I'm 38 and I never used a simulator. We used the real thing.

Ruth Ann said...

I remember the trailer with the movie at one end!! I 'drove' through the whole movie the first day and at the end discovered I'd never turned the "car" on. Something about "push in the clutch and step on the gas at the same time"...

Lourie said...

We didn't use those. We got in real cars. I scared the crap out of my classmates more than once. Haha.