Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

Driving back from a lesson I noticed a hot-air balloon flying quite low over the city. It was swinging back and forth quite significantly like a pendulum.

Seeing how windy it is today I don’t envy those onboard when they come to land!

You know, I’ve never wanted to go up in one of those things. The idea of landing – even on a warm, still day – doesn’t exactly appeal to me. From what I understand, landing is pretty much hit and miss at the best of times. With weather like today’s I can fairly say that going up in one is well down my list of priorities.

Share

In a previous post about the downside to this job I mentioned a pupil who had an unexplained strop on her lesson last week.

Well, her next lesson was on 9th (Sunday). On 3rd Nov I texted her and asked if she was all right (her lesson on 2nd Nov was where she’d had the strop). No reply . I texted again on 6th Nov and asked if we were still on for Sunday. No reply . I texted again on 8th Nov and asked if were still on for the following day. I get the reply: ‘ I think so ‘.

Bearing in mind her lesson is at 8pm on the Sunday, I get a text message at 4pm Sunday afternoon saying: ‘ I can’t make my driving lesson later. Sorry ‘.

I decided to have a look back over her record for the last few months. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Sun, 9/11 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled at 4pm)
  • Sun, 2/11 – 8pm lesson (has a strop near the end)
  • Sun, 26/10 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 10 hours notice due to hangover)
  • Sun 19/10 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 12/10 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 5/10 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 3 hours notice due to hangover, I think)
  • Sun 28/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 21/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 14/9 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)
  • Sun 7/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Fri 29/8 – 12pm lesson OK
  • Sun 24/8 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)
  • Sun 17/8 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 20/7 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 6 hours notice – no reason)
  • Sun 13/7 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 6/7 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Tue 24/6 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Thu 19/6 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 15/6 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)

If I go further back there are more cancellations. There was at least one other strop in there somewhere, too, where she got in the car already upset. There were a couple where she could hardly keep her eyes open (on one, she had the remnants of a hangover at 8pm). I asked her repeatedly to give me more notice, and I warned her several times about the dangers of being tired or drinking before driving.

I’ve been tolerant because her late lesson isn’t usually required by anyone else, although it has lost me work a couple of times. But in all, her behaviour has cost me a total of more than £160 in income alone, plus the lost work and fuel – not to mention the inconvenience.

She has nothing pre-booked in my diary now, and if she calls next week to ask where I am I’m afraid I’m going to politely tell her to find another instructor. Enough is enough.

Share

I’m messing with the templates again, trying to find one I really like. Nothing too gaudy, but that last one was just too minimal for what I really want (after a while, anyway).

I still like ‘minimal’, so I’m going with this one for a while to see how it goes.

I noticed when I was searching through the available WordPress templates that they are rated with up to 5 stars. ‘Ah. This should help find a good one’, I thought. No such luck!

You can see what kind of person rates these things. Templates like this one, or any professional-looking ones with no pretty pictures or gaudy colours? Three stars tops. Any template mentioning Hallowe’en, Christmas, puppies and kittens, or which has ugly, distracting pictures – pumpkins, Santa, etc. – in the background (and which obscure the text in many cases)? Five stars. I can feel my screen almost exploding as thousands of sad people are hammering away on the ‘rate it’ button!

Share

Well, I’m back into football again after our excellent win over Manchester Utd yesterday.

I can’t believe some of the rubbish being printed about Arsene Wenger. It isn’t his fault the team sometimes plays like a bunch of morons. We know what they’re capable of, so when they don’t match up to that it is their fault – not Wenger’s.

If only they can now stop boasting about how they’re going to tear a new orifice for teams they’re going to play, only to get humiliated. Far better to let the football do the talking: it’s a lot more eloquent than the players.

Share

I wonder if it is too much to hope for, that tonight is the last night of bonfires and fireworks?

Every night since November 1st (that was last Saturday) there have been fireworks going off in large numbers. On November 5th itself, they were still going off at 3am in sufficient numbers to suggest it was organised. I mean, what kind of person is still letting fireworks off at that time in the morning? Other than hoodies, of course.

EDIT: I guess not. Even in Sunday’s torrential rain there were some idiots having bonfire shows.

Share

Well, I went to see MGMT last night. Musically, very good, but couldn’t hear a damned word he was singing. Couldn’t even hear a word he was saying on the (very) rare occasions he spoke to the audience. The sound was a bit muddy and the vocals had way too much echo on them.

I was surprised by the performance. The band has almost no stage presence at all. It’s just five people, each doing their own thing in their own little space. The singer looks like a sulky teenager and behaves like that all the way through. The keyboards player at least made an effort: he was wearing large and ridiculously dark sunglasses. The lead guitar looks the part and is quite accomplished, and since much of MGMT’s repertoire involves fairly long guitar riffs this was welcome. I don’t think the bass player looked at the audience all night. You definitely got the impression that they didn’t really want to be there.

The thing we noticed on the way in was the age of the crowd. It was full of students doing what students do best: being annoying. I’ve never seen so many people in one place all trying to take their own photographs.

In the venue there is a flight of stairs which leads up to a first floor. I’m pretty sure there is a bar up there, and I’d be surprised if there are no toilets (but there might not be). Well, we stood quite near these stairs, and also near the two or three steps which lead down to the floor in front of the stage. As the time neared for the main band to appear there was a constant two-way flow of people up and down the stairs and up and down from the main floor. I have never seen it that way before. Even when the band came on, it triggered a further flow of people – away from the stage, it seems.

I suppose that since students are only technically not children, and certainly at this precise moment they were children up until about a month ago, the presence of a flight of stairs to keep walking up an down simply because it is there has to be accepted by those who were genuinely there as adults. (Incidentally, at a Rush gig last year someone had brought their son – he only looked about 9 or 10. He must have walked from his seat at one end of the row, past me to go somewhere, then come back 5 minutes later at least a dozen times. It’s just what kids do, even if it IS extremely irritating.)

Oh, and the other people-watching thing involved the two girls in front of me. After they’d taken a few pictures of themselves on the camera phone, heads together, laughing hysterically, arm outstretched, they then spent the whole gig yak-yak-yakking to each other. I don’t think they looked towards the stage once.

Finally, we went for a curry in a local restaurant which has featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. It was absolutely crap – like the chef had forgotten to put any curry powder at all in the dishes when he was making them. There was literally no curry taste of any kind.

Share

Monday this week, another test. The pupil is dyslexic and has been unsuccessful with her driving previously – people just didn’t understand that she learns differently as a result of her dyslexia (as an aside, all dyslexics are different and you have to find the right buttons to press).

She passed with 9 driver faults (that’s seven in a row now) and was over the moon. She never thought she’d pass her test. So well done PL, and enjoy your driving (I got a text from her today warning me she was going to be out and about!)

Share

On a lesson tonight with a pupil. She’s only taking 1 hour at a time and not every week (a lot of late nights and hangovers resulting in cancellations). She’s been a slow learner, mainly because she is so negative about everything.

Today we were covering roundabouts (she hates doing manoeuvres), and we had to do a reverse around a corner to turn around and go back the opposite way. I asked her to do it, and she said “I don’t know what I’m doing”. After a few questions it became clear she knew exactly what to do. She got round perfectly, and then said “that’s the worst one I’ve ever done.”

The thing was, I’d just got goosepimples down my neck because it was the best one she’d ever done. It would easily have passed on the test. I told her so.

So we’re back on the roundabouts and everything is going pretty well. While we were stopped she said “I get worried when I’m on them and don’t know what I’m doing”. So I pointed out this is part of learning, and that she’s handling them better than many pupils, who often can’t stay in lane to begin with (all the correct confidence building stuff as well).

Now, I haven’t got a clue what happened, but all of a sudden – about 15 minutes before the end of the lesson, and ages after what I’ve described above – she went quiet. By now we’re just driving normally, having finished with the roundabouts, and she’d been chatting away happily. She’d done absolutely nothing wrong. I asked her what was the matter and she said “I’m concentrating”. This didn’t make sense – difficult to put into words, but knowing her and her tendency to just ‘fall asleep’, as the saying goes, it just didn’t. As we drove further I knew something was seriously the matter. I ended up having to change gears and brake at lights/junctions for her. The lesson was effectively over and I just had to make sure we didn’t hit anything: at one point near to her house I thought she was deliberately trying to!

When we got close to home she said she wanted to stop short to go to a friend’s house. She couldn’t get out of the car quick enough because she was nearly in tears.

She’s done this once before (something had happened in her private life but she wouldn’t say what), but it just ruins your day. You start wondering if it is something you’ve said or done! She assured me it wasn’t (last time, and this one) but she won’t tell me what it was that just triggered it without anything obvious taking place.

Share

Another test today, and another pass – that’s six on the trot – with just 4 driver faults. Well done to CP, and I hope you get that car by Christmas as you said.

Share

I also heard on the radio that they’re holding a world-record attempt in the City’s Market Square this afternoon to get as many people dressed up as zombies together in one place as possible.

They should have thought this one through better. If they’d have held it in Stapleford (classy: lots of pairs of trainers thrown over the phone lines) they’d have been guaranteed to smash the record just by announcing it – and it would have been real zombies, not just fancy dress.

I was driving through Stapleford town centre last week with a pupil when we had to stop. Someone had cleverly removed a set of barriers around building work on the pavement and reassembled them in the middle of the road. Oh, how funny it was. How we all laughed… especially the Police car which came roaring through on a call, where the Policeman had to get out and throw them out of the way before they could continue.

This is in addition to the time a few months ago when the same birth defects were running into the middle of the road to force cars to stop. Or the time a few weeks later when other defects – about 18 years old, so probably the parents of the younger defects responsible for the barriers – were having a fight outside the pub to impress the girls (and they did seem to be impressed, it must be said).

Share