There was a parking spot amid the cars. It was parallel but it was close.
I looked over to my passenger seat and imagined Mr. Feely sitting there and saying: “Well, you better grab this spot.”
I went through each step in my head as I pulled up beside the car ahead. There was already a line of cars forming behind me, and my brain was saying to just bag it and park in the lot.
But I heard a voice saying “put it in reverse and don’t cut too sharp.” I did so.
To my amazement, I perfectly placed my car between two others without a pull up and re-do.
As I stepped out of the car, an older gentleman put up his hand in a thumbs up and shouted: “That was as close to perfect as I have ever seen!”
I shouted back “Thanks to Mr. Feely!”
I reflect on this because Mr. Feely was more of a coach than a nurturing teacher. He called us blockheads when we drove over the parking lines on Monroe Boulevard and once, when he told me to turn right, I was sure he wanted me to go to South Beach hill to practice popping the clutch to get up an incline. It was far from a right and he and my driving mates chuckled when I continued to the beach.
When I think of all the things I learned in the summer of Driver’s Training, it was the utter fear that I wouldn’t please him to the level that he required, that inserted those rules deep in my brain. Coaches have a different way of teaching.
While today, we are much more mindful of not causing psychological harm when we teach and coach, the level to which we hold the bar must not be lowered. Students like me knew what the level was when you had Bob Feely for your Training teacher. It was not for the weak of heart, but in the end, that satisfactory grin was the most prized affirmation there was.
Mr. Feely passed away at a ripe old age.
He was a different version of “that” teacher because he demanded excellence or else it was a re-do.
So many years ago and still in my head.
Thanks Mr. Feely.
Thanks for Listening.