Stop when you break the mirror

My Dad turned 80 this weekend and in honour of that, I’m pulling out this post from a couple of years ago. It celebrates one of his very best moments. 

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer


I passed my driver’s test on the first try.  This mattered back then because my brother didn’t, and I always wanted to be at least as good as he was. I had taken driver’s training on a small k-car, automatic transmission. The next day Dad and I took the paperwork and I got my license.

It was pretty awesome. No one else was home for reasons I can’t remember, and Dad decided to order an extra-large, fully loaded pizza to celebrate. Just the two of us,  something that seldom happened.

Eons ago, pizza delivery wasn’t free. Well, let’s be honest, it’s still not–the delivery cost is rolled into the price–but back in 1979, it was definitely cheaper to pick it up. Dad was getting his coat, and I was trying not to sulk. He’d already forgotten? How could he forget! I must have looked anxious enough, because as he glanced at me from the porch steps, ready to head out, he said those wonderful words, “That’s right! You’ve got a license now. You go get it.”

I’m sure I squealed. “But,” I said, “I can’t back your truck up like you can.”

Dad, a former truck driver, drove a green Ford pickup truck, standard transmission. He also had this monstrosity he called a Dodge power-wagon–this baby blue immoveable beast that he took on hunting trips sometimes. Both were parked in the driveway, one in front of the other.

“No,” he lectured, “if you’re going to drive my truck, then you’re going to drive by my rules. The reason I always back up into the driveway is so I can scope it out first. I can see if there are kids or dogs or spacemen there. And, when I leave again, I can still see everything around me. It’s safer. If you’re going to drive my truck, then you’ll have to do that.”

“I don’t think I can,” I said, “but I’ll try.”

The trip to the pizza place–on the other side of our community–was delightfully uneventful. I didn’t stall once and I was immensely satisfied with myself. There was a minor incident on the way home, when I stalled at a light, but, considering I’d only driven stick once or twice before, I thought I rocked it.

Then I got to the driveway.

There is a slight incline to this driveway, fronted with a rounded curb.  I inched the truck past the drive, and carefully scanned. No kids. No pets. No spacemen. I put it in reverse, took a deep breath and backed up.

I stalled. Three times.

The incline was impossible, and I was getting frustrated. I’d told him that curb was trouble. I realized I needed to give it more gas, but that was intimidating. So I stalled. And stalled. And stalled again.

Okay, then. More gas it was. This time, I got over the wretched curb–and promptly smashed the passenger-side mirror against the fence.

That was the moment I lost my temper. I stomped on the gas. The pickup truck flew up the curb and buried itself into the bulky power-wagon. The sound of metal on metal trampled my last nerve and I got out of the truck, yelling unkind words at both the new green Ford and the old blue Dodge.

I surveyed the damage. It was bad. The pickup’s tailgate was dented in the middle–so much that it was practically torn in two. The tailgate had been yanked off the hinge in one corner,  and there was a pretty substantial dent in the bumper as well. The green paint had been scraped away. All the evidence Dad would need had transferred to that old blue beast. I was going to have to confess to having a costly accident on my very first day. I was not looking forward to it. Not at all.

When I turned around, I saw my Dad looking at me from the kitchen window. He’d seen the whole thing. I was doomed.

I expected him to be furious. I expected him to yell and scream and tell me I was a complete idiot.

Instead, he said with a calm that probably surprised him too, “Next time, Crystal, stop when you break the mirror.”

Life Lessons. I’ve walked away after “breaking a mirror” more than once.

28 thoughts on “Stop when you break the mirror

  1. This is so wonderfully written and I love the lesson too. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Life is fantastic. Hope all is well with you. I drop by your blog occasionally, but I felt especially moved by this post and had to comment. 🙂

  2. Oh, while I’m sure you weren’t happy while this was happening, the telling of it is wonderful. Wise words indeed. Happy birthday to your dad!

    1. It was fun to reminisce about that this weekend when I took him for a drive. He was understandably a little bit nervous. I passed on your greetings!

  3. It was good the first time, and even better the second time because now I know you!

  4. Crystal, this reminds of the time I broke the passenger mirror on our car and then pretended it never happened by putting the mirror back on and never told anyone, till now. Beautiful story of a great dad.

    1. I wish I had thought of doing that…but then again, he’d watched the entire thing.

    1. Dad has taken every opportunity to tease me about it–that’s for sure!


    This is my new mantra. I’m not pretty when I’m angry, and I do tend to continue past “breaking the mirror.”

  6. What a great story. I think my dad would have had the same response. This brought back memories of a car I once just had to buy, although I had no idea how to drive a stick. My daughter thought I was finally cool—until I stalled at every corner.

    1. I can imagine! Stalling out on a consistent basis can truly affect your cool quotient. I haven’t been brave enough to drive my husband’s car yet. Maybe soon. Maybe.

  7. Oh, I like this! “Stop when you break the mirror.” What awesome advice! My folks (my Mum, actually) wouldn’t let me drive by myself for three months after I got my license. I wonder what would have happened if I’d been handed the keys straight away?

    1. Good question! In my case, no people or animals were harmed, but we did have to get a new truck…and a life long lesson.

  8. LOL! I remember this one. Love that gorgeous red truck. I’m guessing the lesson drove home harder and deeper because he didn’t blow a gasket. What great advice! And for the record, I, too, hate it when the spacemen get in the way of my driving. 😉 P.S. Congrats on the license and driving again.

    1. Yes, that is exactly why it left such an impression on me. And thanks! I am enjoying it immensely.

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