Wednesday, 5 December 2007

All these years I thought I could drive



The first driving lesson was today. It was a bit of a chore. I spent two hours practising how to take off. (May I clarify that I am not taking flying lessons, either). I mean I had to pull up to the kerb, stop. Go through what felt to me like a super-slow routine of scanning and pedal maneuvers, take off, drive a little way, pull back over and do it all again. I was being coached in how to push down the accelerator until I felt the 'bite', then check my mirrors and blind spot, then let off clutch and release hand brake--after signalling that I'm 'entering traffic' and checking my left mirror one more time (even though I'm parked on a lefthand kerb). Oh, and once I got rolling, I was allowed to make left turns.

Now I'm not saying I was stellar at this. I'm just saying that if he had got in the car and said, 'Right, drive around the block four times, go.' I would have been able to start that car and go around the block. I would have been doing it my way, though, which apparently is not the 'right' way. I've never had driving lessons; my dad taught me to drive and what he didn't teach me I figured out on my own. He taught me how to work the clutch and gas to take off. What he taught me and what I've done all my life are not what this driving instructor is teaching me. *sigh*

And to think all the years that I drove a manual transmission, smoothly engaging the gas while releasing the clutch, and somehow managing to make sure that nothing was coming from any direction, all in an efficient, fluid motion that was second-nature to me, was 'not safe'.

Oh yeah, I can't steer properly, either. My hands must push-pull and not go past 6.00! Doesn't seem to matter that I'm right where I need to be in the road, or that I manage to make a turn and know precisely where the car is going to be. Steering a different way is 'not safe'.

At the very least, I did not feel uncomfortable sitting on the right side of the car or shifting with my left hand. No problem.

To sum it up, I knew this was gonna happen. I am going to have to unlearn a lifetime of habits and do it 'their' way, because, as I was told, Britain has the safest roads in Europe. (That's not true, actually. I looked it up. The top five safest roads in Europe are Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. BSM's data are based on statistics from 2000. Mine are from 2006--University of Loughborough study. Still, we won't quibble about factoids.)

I am not deterred! I rise to the challenge! I can unlearn my dance and learn theirs. I can do it their way!!

My next lesson is 15th December. Maybe I'll get to turn right. One can dream.

May all beings be at ease.

3 comments:

Fat-Free Vegan said...

Learning to drive on the left was a big challenge when I first moved to Australia, but I jumped right in immediately, and I know you haven't been driving. Then again, I have never driven a manual transmission! That would certainly add to the challenges. You'll get there, though! Hang in there.

Morandia said...

I couldn't handle the manual transmission, but other than that... Actually, I doubt I'd get my license over there. I'd probably end up in jail for throttling the instructor. You know how we Americans are....

good luck with it and keep the stories coming!

AshleyB said...

Hey Carla--enjoyed picturing you trying to master your new backward driving. I can only imagine how hard it is to unlearn all the automatic responses used in driving. Talk about not being mindful! I know how easy it is to drive without even realizing I'm doing it--you know how you suddenly come aware that 10 miles have gone by without notice because you're so zoned out.

I put an update on my blog and hope to keep it fairly fresh until I can resume real weight loss after the baby. Then I'm sure I'll start posting all the time looking for support.

Hope you have a smashing holiday!

Ashley