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Norma Adrianzen

WORKING --

June 14, 2001

-- Story by Young Chang, photo by [TK]

SHE IS

A gatekeeper to that rite of passage, that coveted and somehow

glamorously perceived privilege of getting someplace without the parents

-- a.k.a. driving

THE YOUNGER, THE BETTER

Teenagers -- they're not so bad, says driving instructor Norma

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Adrianzen. In fact, they're better drivers than most adults. They do it

naturally, almost as if they're riding a bike, and the four-year

instructor for Newport Driving School said she never tires of their

enthusiasm.

Except when it comes to the instructional videos.

"It's too boring for them," she said with a laugh.

Adrianzen has always worked in the field of driving. There's something

about a sit-down office job that makes her feel trapped, she said. And

there's something about teaching teenagers that lifts her day.

"When I'm with the kids, it's more fun because they're laughing and

they're always happy," she said.

TEEN SPIRIT

When it comes to behind-the-wheel training, the boys are usually less

scared, Adrianzen said. And some want to do things their own way, not the

proper way. A few girls appear petrified. Others demonstrate that they've

known how to drive long before getting to the school.

Adrianzen sits beside the teen drivers as they roam local streets and

sometimes even the freeways.

"It's harder to teach adults," she said. "The adults from foreign

countries, they're very difficult."

DIFFERENT STROKES, DIFFERENT FOLKS

Take people from India, Adrianzen said as an example. They're so used

to driving on the other side of the road that sometimes their tendency is

to go against traffic.

"And women from Saudi Arabia -- for women from over there, it's

forbidden to drive. They don't have any idea on what is a red light,

green light, yellow light," the instructor said.

BACK-SEAT DRIVING

Adrianzen admits it's hard to leave her work at the office. Every time

she sits in the passenger's seat -- be it her friend's or a relative's --

she can't help but check how people are driving.

"I guess if you want to teach something, whether you like it or not,

you get that into you," she said.

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