When people ask me where I work now. I can answer “The Local Driving School,” and be accurate in two different ways. Not only is that the com- pany’s name, but it also describes its location. The Local Driving School is situated in Pinole, my home town for the last Twenty-two years. Pinole is in the East Bay across the bridge from San Francisco, and about thirty minutes away from the college town of Berkeley California. Pinole was named after a bland acorn mush cereal made by the native Indians who first populated the area. I like to say “we are similar to Berkeley, which is a pretty “granola” town, but in Pinole, we have fewer nuts and flakes.”
Nineteen thousand people live in Pinole, and sometimes it seems as if
they’re all in our neighborhood Trader Joe’s parking lot at the same time.
It’s especially crowded when the nearby Pinole High School lets out for the
day, and parents use the lot as a meeting spot to pick up their kids. At that
time a day, an empty parking space is harder to find than a Democrat in a
M.A.G.A hat. Along with a Trader Joe’s, the shopping plaza has a Karate
Dojo, sushi restaurant, Walgreens drug store, and the obligatory Starbucks
coffee shop. It’s no big deal that we have a Starbucks since there are so many
of those in the bay area, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Starbucks builds
a new Starbucks inside the bathroom of pre-existing Starbucks.
Luckily the “Local Driving School” isn’t in that shopping plaza but in
a much smaller one across the freeway in what is called “Old Pinole.” A few
of the buildings in that part of the town date back as far as 1850, the most
significant and impressive one is called the Fernandez Mansion. It was built
by a Portuguese immigrant who came to Pinole to start a trading facility on
the shores of the San Pablo Bay. It’s a beautiful statuesque abode that’s now
unfortunately sandwiched between a storage area for old motorhomes and a
new water treatment plant.
Overall Pinole has been a lovely town to live in. Buying a house here
has turned out to be a much smarter investment, than my stock in the
Blockbuster Video chain, or my collection of Bill Cosby memorabilia.
Even though I’ve had a forty-year career in showbiz, more about that later,
and been able to save enough money to last the rest of my life, unless I
want to buy something. I decided I wanted a job for my semi-retirement
years, one that combined flexible hours, the chance to meet new people,
and the occasional near-death experience. So, what better job for me than
professional driving teacher?
In the following pages, you’ll read about my adventures as a child actor, professional juggler, toy inventor, and tutor in San Quentin Prison. I’ll tell you all about my philosophies for happiness and success. In between each story about my past I’ll be presenting a tale from my current experience as a driving instructor. My hope is that this book will help you become a bet- ter person by becoming a better driver. If you haven’t gotten your driver’s license yet, I’ll share with you one of the greatest secrets one person can share with another … How to pass the DMV behind-the-wheel test. So fasten your seatbelt, adjust your rearview mirror and get ready for the ride of “my” life.