Brak prawa jazdy

slow route home

More about never having a driver’s license. Brak prawa jazdy means no driver’s license in Polish, according to the translator. There are a lot of Slavic folks where I grew up.

In 1975/76, I was in the car of my friend LaMBS. We were going straight. The car was stopped at the top of the hill facing us. Suddenly, he makes a left turn in front of us. I was unharmed, other than some aches and pains. LaMBS, though, was in a neck brace for six weeks. The other driver said he didn’t see us, but he was stopped for over five seconds before he turned. Oh, and his insurance had lapsed; it was a legal pain for a time.

In early 1977, I ended up living at my parents’ house in Charlotte, NC for about four months. I hated being in Charlotte for a lot of reasons, such as being afraid to use three-syllable words, lest I appear snooty. (And I certainly wouldn’t use words such as “lest.”)

But it was also the case that, at the time, their mass transit service was Terrible. Almost all of the buses ran through the main intersection of Trade and Tryon. It’d be like going from Paris to Rome via London. (It’s much better now.)

My father intimated that he’d teach me to drive, so I got a driver’s permit. If we went out at all, it was just once. So I felt really trapped and actually hitchhiked from Charlotte to Binghamton just to get out of there.


My next living situation was at my sister’s apartment in Jamaica, Queens, NYC. It was a block from the #7 line. Very quickly, I became quite adept at navigating the subway. I’d even ride to the end of various lines just to see different parts of the city.

After a few months back in New Paltz, I crashed with Uthaclena and his then-spouse. Sometimes, I’d take the bus to Albany and buy comic books at FantaCo. Usually, I actually liked the bus, though people were often “losing” the zone pass, which cost more. Route 155 was the dividing line. Thank goodness they’ve long abandoned that system.

My girlfriend Shazrak had a car, so if I needed to go somewhere off the bus lines, she’d usually take me. But I was resistant to being dependent on a car.

I remember that we were housesitting on this little farmhouse in Quaker Street. Irrationally, I really hated it, because I didn’t feel in control of getting back to a place I knew.

Route 5

The farthest I ever drove was from Schenectady to Albany c 1981. I was with a friend who had taken us to her friends’ house. At the end of the night, she handed me the keys, as she knew she was too drunk to drive.

Since I didn’t drive often, I ran through the checklist that experienced motorists probably don’t think about. Things like remembering which pedal is the brake and which is the accelerator.

I took State Street in Schenectady, which turns into Central Avenue when it hits the Albany County line. It’s the slow route home because I didn’t want to go through the Thruway toll booth. Or maybe accidentally HIT the toll booth to the Interstate. Did I have an active driver’s permit at that moment? I’m not sure, but I think not.

Since it was well after midnight, there wasn’t much traffic, thank Allah. I think I did OK except taking a right turn from Central Avenue onto Lark Street very widely.

My girlfriend in the mid-1980s did not drive, but this just wasn’t particularly problematic. We lived on the bus lines, so we were fine in that regard. If we needed a ride, we asked friends, but we weren’t dependent on them.

More in a week or so.

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