Brent Maze: New car owner in the family

Published 10:05 am Sunday, July 7, 2024

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​​On Wednesday as we were preparing for the Fourth of July and being closed for a day, I got a call from my nephew, Samuel.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to answer it right away, but he left me a voicemail and said, “Hey, Uncle Brent. I just wanted to tell you that I got a truck today.”

Samuel, who is 17, has been able to drive since 2022. However, he hasn’t really driven that much on his own because he really hasn’t had too many opportunities. 

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The funny thing is that he might be the safest driver out of all of us from what I’ve seen.

He always buckles his seat belt. He always makes sure his mirrors are in the correct position before he puts the vehicle in drive. And generally, he obeys the speed limit probably better than anyone else in the family.

I’ve let him drive my Jeep a few times to go pick up something from the store or something like that. For obvious reasons being 6-5 and a big guy, I haven’t ridden in the back seats of many vehicles in a long time. I have to have some leg room. Generally, I push the car seat all the way back even if I ride in the passenger’s seat.

I probably should have let him drive a little more often, but now he won’t have to worry about it as much. He’s got his own set of wheels. It’s a 1989 Nissan pickup truck. Surprisingly, it has an automatic transmission, as many Nissan pickups I’ve seen in general have a stick shift. Now, that’s likely not a problem for Samuel, as he could easily pick that up. I think he’s driven a stick and has done fairly well with it, but since this is automatic, he will do fine.

Another good thing about the truck is that he can’t have a pile of people riding with him. I know, many of us have piled into cars as teenagers. It probably wasn’t the greatest idea when we were such young drivers, but it is what is.

If you’ve ever heard the show Car Talk that used to be on NPR, one of their signature lines was, “Don’t drive like my brother.” That’s a line my brother likes to use as I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me as a driver. I’ve never traded in a vehicle because I’ve never had a vehicle to trade in when I needed a new vehicle because the vehicle got totaled by another driver, myself, or a pair of old trees during a bad thunderstorm last year.

So, Jonathan can tell Samuel, “Don’t drive like my brother.”

I certainly wish Samuel the best as he takes to the road on his own. It’s another one of those rites of passage that we have in life. Graduation will be next year for him.

Hitting the road in your own car is one of the things that is truly a part of the American dream. Samuel has achieved that. My hope and prayer is that he stays safe out there and learns from all the mistakes that I’ve made out there.

Brent Maze is the publisher of The Selma Times-Journal He can be reached at