Driving Miss L

Fact 1: My favourite films are, without any shadow of a doubt, the Fast and Furious films. I love them, it’s that simple.

Fact 2: One of my life’s ambitions is to own a rusty, red, flatbed truck.

Fact 3: I don’t like driving.

Okay, so maybe saying I don’t like driving might be a tad harsh. I don’t hate it. If I’m having a good day, the car’s behaving and there’s no silly people on the road doing silly things, and I’m not in a rush and know exactly where I’m going, then I don’t mind it. But, needless to say, those days aren’t too plentiful. I didn’t learn to drive until a year or so ago. At the grand old age of twenty seven, to be exact. I didn’t enjoy learning. I couldn’t get my feet to do what I wanted them to do, and everything seemed to take so long to get the hang of that I did doubt I would ever get to grips with being behind the wheel myself. But I managed it. Passed fourth time, in snow.

I’ve driven since, in my beautiful red Micra whose name ranged from Betty to Poppy to some words I won’t repeat here when she was having a stubborn day. But then I moved to America.

That old cliche is back again: everything is bigger here. But as cliched as that might sound, it’s true, especially when it comes to cars. No Micras here. The roads are bigger too – so many lanes. And then there’s the traffic lights, where you can go on red (and amber and green). It’s all a bit much.

My first week, as part of the programme I came over with, I was taken out with an instructor for an hour. He had a checklist on a clipboard and had to assess how well I could drive. If I needed to work on different areas, he would make a note, let the recruitment company know, and there would be the suggestion that I take a few lessons before I take my test here to get a local licence. Boy, was I nervous before I got in that car! New side of the road to drive on, new traffic signals, new road rules, and an automatic car when all I’ve ever driven is a manual.

The result? I passed with flying colours. There was one moment – just one, though – where I came out of a car park and headed toward the left-hand side of the road. But I didn’t kill anyone, and corrected in enough time to avoid looking too much like a tourist. The driving instructor just laughed. You’ll get used to it in no time, he said. And do you know what? I have. I now love driving an automatic. My first time on the interstate I did not love, however, but practice will make the crippling fear and sweaty palms lessen, or so I’m told.

I’m still driving a rental car, and since I’m sharing with a roommate to cut costs, I have yet to drive alone in the car. But soon I will have to part with the pennies and buy a new car, take the local driving test and be brave on the interstate. I might not enjoy it, but I’ll do it.

I’ll just imagine Vin Diesel sat in the front seat with me 😉



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