A petite middle aged Asian woman recently joined the vanpool. She is relentlessly cheerful and with her heavy accent, sounds exactly like the Laotian neighbor Minh on King of the Hill.
So, Minh it is.
A few weeks after joining the van, Minh started asking questions about becoming a driver. She wanted to know about the route, where to park the van, and qualifications for becoming a driver.
As it turns out, a pulse and a valid driver's license are the only requirements.
Two days after submitting her paperwork, it was Minh's turn to take the wheel. She told everyone that she was going to practice driving the van around the parking lot over the weekend to "get the feeling of things" but admitted as she was backing out of the parking space that she never got around to it.
She successfully reversed about two feet before stomping on the brakes and asking how much more room she had to back up. Gap Lady rode shotgun to provide moral support and directional assistance. After a twelve-point three-point turn, we coasted toward an intersection.
The light at the intersection was red. It was red as we approached it. It was red as Minh kept a steady foot on the gas. It was red when the van filled with the sound of about seven people gasping. It was red as Minh sailed through it. It was red as horns honked and oncoming drivers swerved. And it was still red while my fellow vannies hustled into their seat belts.
For a woman who got a little cagey about backing out of a parking space, Minh's devil-may-care attitude for intersections was surprising.
"We're going to have to have a talk about what the colors mean," said Gap Lady with a strained voice.
"What? Oh. Yeah," smiled Minh knowingly.
For the duration of the trip she puttered along at 45 mph, hugging the right edge of the far right lane. But when a cement truck in front of her began kicking up road debris, Minh made the only lane change of the drive.
As soon as she was safely ensconced in the center lane, a triumphant Minh pumped her fist in the air.
"Congratulations!" beamed Gap Lady.
This is woman I entrusted with my safe passage to work.