Image source: UKCPD

It felt like 3 to 4 minutes.  It was probably only 30 seconds.  Either way, I was completely flummoxed.  Why wouldn’t the parking brake release?  Had my daughter broken it?  Was that even possible?

My daughter is turning 16 in seven weeks.  She’s very excited about getting her Learner’s Permit and learning to drive.  She recently asked if she could reverse the car out of the driveway.  Sounded low risk to me.  She’s safety conscious by nature and it would be low speed.

She jumped into the driver’s seat, a huge smile on her face.  I sat in the front passenger seat, next to her.  We both put our seat belts on.

Step 1 – Turn the key in the ignition.  The car started just fine.

Step 2 – Ummm…. what should step 2 be?  Only just struck me writing this blog that I didn’t advise her to adjust the rear vision and side mirrors.

Next Step – whatever number it should have been or was … Release the park brake.

She pulled the lever up.  Nothing happened.

“Try it again,” I said.  Still nothing.

“Why isn’t it working?” she asked, a tense note in her voice.

“I’m not sure.  Let me think.”  I thought, trying to recall what I do when I get into the driver’s seat and prepare to reverse the car.

“Did I break it?”

“Try putting it into reverse,” I suggested.

It wouldn’t go into reverse.  Now I’m on edge.  What is going on here?  Slow down: go through it in your mind, feel it in your muscle memory.

I literally moved my body through the motions I would normally take on getting into the car.

“Ah!  Try putting your foot on the brake.” I was both relieved and a little triumphant when the park brake released.

Can you see why I really want her to take lessons with a professional driving instructor before I take her under my wing on the open road?  This is a classic example of unconscious competence.  When you have mastered a skill it can be very difficult to break it down into small steps to instruct someone else in how to do it.  This is one of the reasons to be careful when asking an experienced person to instruct a novice in skills on the job.  It’s so easy to skip the little things that an expert does automatically.

Wish me luck with the driving lessons.

Day 5 – November 2021 Daily Dispatch goal


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