The Stressful Life of a Driving Instructor

Leona Chin looked unassuming, like just another bubbly teenager as she slid into the driver’s seat dressed in SpongeBob SquarePants attire with her hair in two ponytails.

The driving instructors all thought she was just another student as well – until she stepped on the gas. In a prank video posted on the website, Chin, a professional motor sports driver, at first struggles with the clutch on her car and some basic driving maneuvers, playing possum for a few minutes before unleashing a whirlwind of figure eights and doughnuts in a quiet parking lot.

Chin laughs as the horrified driving instructors grab their seats or their chests. Chin whips around the parking lot for a few minutes, leaving burnt rubber and skidmarks everywhere before coming to a quick halt. Seconds after she finally stops, the drivers either storm out of Chin’s car or remain still in shock.

And you thought being a driving instructor was boring?

‘It’s the Kind of Gig That Plays With Your Sanity’

The instructors pranked by Chin were all on their first day of the job. Imagine the stories you’d have after years of teaching driver’s ed?

You may encounter a situation like as in Waltham, Mass. last summer, where a first time driver lasted just minutes before crashing his first car. During his first driving lesson, the teenage driver drove up on a sidewalk and then into a large oak tree. With what was likely a terrified driving instructor inside, the car flipped over onto its roof.

“Very minor injuries,” the Waltham Police Department tweeted. “First driving lesson didn’t go well.”

On driving instructing as a profession, Popular Mechanics says, “It’s the kind of gig that plays with your sanity – but offers good stories in exchange.”

The website asked contributor Mac Demere, a driving instructor who’s spend thousands of hours in the passenger seat with more than 10,000 new drivers, to share some of his stories.

This one was about a student who forgot one important accessory:

Did you forget your glasses? I asked the driver as politely as possible, hoping to hide my frustration under a joke. (The other choice was to throw my helmet, which is frowned upon but not unprecedented.) ‘I left them at home,’ she said, her right foot planted firmly on the accelerator, and traffic cones flying everywhere. ‘I can’t see a thing!’ I prayed, poorly, and said under my breath the motto of right-seat driving instructors everywhere: ‘Today’s a beautiful day to die.’”

And then, there is this one:

“Someone who wears a racing-school jacket to a product demonstration unintentionally labels herself as a likely problem. I joked about it before the audience. (I’m a frustrated stand-up comic and, besides, a humorous instructor better holds the participants’ attention.) I didn’t know how right I was.

During her drive, the woman in the jacket spun out on the course and locked the gas pedal to the floor. Despite my call to hit the brakes, she had the mistaken but unshakable belief she was already doing so. “I am braking,” she shouted back as mud flew around the spinning car. (I’d already put the car in neutral. Neutral is my friend.) ‘No, ma’am, you’re on the gas.’ The engine screamed as it bounced against its electronic limiter. ‘I’M ON THE BRAKE,’ she shouted over the roar. ‘Hear that?’ I shouted back over the motor.


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