Cars and me. No one thought it would ever happen.
'I'm not sure you ever ought to drive', my mum would say.
'You are not on this planet half the time. Dolly daydream, never in the moment, always half a mile in front round the corner'.
Mother spoke the truth, which I would acknowledge with a giggle before heading back into my dollydaydreamworld. But oh how I used to have dreams about driving - driving with the window rolled down, singing to the best driving soundtrack you ever did hear. Driving is freedom and the stuff of rock and roll. And I was all about rock and roll.
Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Glory, highways and rumbling engines was most definitely the dream, but those who knew me well were not shy in communicating their apprehension at the thought of me being allowed behind the wheel.
'If you driving is anything like you on a bike then we're all in trouble', a friend once remarked on hearing that I was about to restart lessons.
This friend had possibly witnessed me 'mastering' the 'look no handlebars!' trick. I may also have told him about the time I was riding to work and fell sideways - straight into the path of a braking police car after unsuccessfully trying to mount the curb of a railing-edged pavement. Thankfully a shaking of the head and a wagging of the finger was all I received from the amused policemen, leaving me free to carry on my way, contrite and red faced.
Danger to yourself and others....uhuh.
I started my driving lessons, aged 17 - all proud and full of enthusiasm. It quickly faded as 20+ lessons later I was not progressing. So I found another instructor, someone who had been recommended by a family friend as he has seen their daughter through successfully. I had approximately 6 lessons before an abrupt end saw the instructor grabbing the steering wheel off me and yelling "What is WRONG with you? Are you on medication?!?!?!" I wasn't, unless you count the contraceptive pill for hormonal imbalance and iron tablets for anaemia, but he wasn't in the slightest bit interested in any of that (not that I was about to share the minutiae of my menstrual cycle with this mean shrieking red-haired man). Instead he told me that he wasn't going to instruct me anymore and that I ought to have a six-month break before I consider trying again with a different driving school. Mum also wasn't keen on filling in the gap after I nearly wrapped her car around a lamp post.
I did try again straight away, but once again it didn't work out and I forgot about it for a few years. Things hadn't improved, and although I had thought my driving was better than when I tried the first time, I was obviously mistaken as after approximately 10 lessons my instructor claimed that he was giving up instructing and would 'pass me on' to his friend. I gave it a go, and only felt slightly hurt when I saw my previous instructor still giving other people lessons. Quit huh? Hmph! So I had been dumped by a second instructor who just didn't want to teach me! Was I really that bad? Well my new instructor said I had promise but kept cancelling my lessons , but in the end I had to give up when I moved away to law school.
Years later, my 6th instructor proved to be the ticket and a few days before my 30th birthday I finally passed my test at the second attempt - and I totally like to think it was on merit and not the fact that I was young (compared to the test instructor, at least), blonde, wore tight jeans and had shared the fact that it was my birthday that week *flutter flutter* Well whatever, it worked. 13 minors and a mounting of the curb had not changed the fact that I HAD PASSED MY TEST! FINALLY! And in the week where I had a landmark birthday and my now-husband proposed with the most gorgeous diamond ring. Added to that I got a round of applause when my students asked me how it had gone and I was on top of the world!
So how did it pan out? Well... I started out by having a wee accident at the school gates. My classes had all just finished their exam so were congregating (or loitering) outside. They waved, so I waved back, then promptly hit the accelerator instead of the break as I tried to slow to take the corner. I hit the opposite curb (what is it with me and curbs?) with such force and at such an angle that it slashed my tire amid gasps and exclamations of 'ouch' from my students. Embarrassing!
But you know what, other than that first little incident I have not been in an accident that has been my fault in almost 5 years of driving - a fact that has amazed nearly everyone who knows me. However, I have been in two other accidents so I am not about to get complacent. I always compare car insurance quotes to make sure I am getting the best deal should the worst happen and I need to make a claim. After all, I may have learned from my dolly daydream ways now I have a precious little person on board to keep safe, but there are plenty of other dreamers/ragers/downright dangerous folk out there. I mean, what kind of world do we live in where you can get raged at and tailgated by a couple of speed demon septuagenarians who take exception to someone pulling out of a junction when they are half a mile down the road (this happened to me a few months ago)? And I'm not even going to start on the dangers of what can happen should your clapped out Lada be used in an armed raid on a post office. No, I think that's a story I'll save for another time....
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