February 15th, 2020


Monday, 17 February 2020

Michael acts like a kid who has already had driver’s education.

(Original Publication Date, 18 February 1991)

Panel 1:  According to this website

The Urban speed limit in every province/territory is 50 km/hr.  I think the point Lynn might be trying to make is that it is okay to be 10 km over the speed limit.  It isn’t. But a lot of drivers consider the speed limit to be a lower limit and not the upper limit it is.  By the way, even though the daily comic strip just before this one had seat belts drawn in for the reprint, this particular comic strip has Mike and John wearing them even back in 1991.  The message in 1991 appears to have been that it’s okay to play with other parents’ kids’ lives, but not your own. 

Panel 2:   I would blame the colourist for that black stop sign, except it was coloured black back in 1991.   John had a rolling stop.  Again, I suspect Lynn Johnston is trying to say this is no big deal.   Speaking as someone who has been pulled for a rolling stop (and twice when it wasn’t true), I am very sensitive about this particular traffic law.  Again Michael is right, but bad driver John doesn’t want to hear it.

Panel 3:  John has decided to let Michael break the law and drive the car the rest of the way home.  Michael is excited like a kid who has never tried to do that before.  A little reminder of what the driving laws in Ontario are:

• Learner’s permit (G1): Available at the age of 16.
• Probationary licence (G2): Available after having held a G1 licence for 12 months, or eight months if the driver has completed and passed a ministry-approved driver education course.
• Full licence (G): After 1 year of possessing the G2 licence.

Panel 4: Michael gets to drive the length of the driveway, which is actually the way my father taught my sister to drive.  Not me.  I terrified my father the one time we tried that by following his instructions to the letter. 

Ultimately Lynn Johnston will settle on the idea the Pattersons have a driveway this long.

Before then, the driveway was much longer and we still see that long driveway in today’s comic strip.

Summary:   I know with my own children that once they went through a driver’s education course they became hypercritical of their parents’ driving, so part of this comic strip rings true.  The problem is that Michael has not yet been through a driver’s education course and that will not happen for another year.  Aaron Johnston, on the other hand, was 17 years old when this comic strip was published, so this story was probably from Lynn’s (or some other person’s) experience dealing with Aaron learning to drive.   It is not uncommon for Lynn to take an Aaron story and translate it to Michael, while forgetting that 3-year-freeze difference in age she is so fond of bragging about.