Yes, it was another driving lesson today, fraught with tension, nerves, brainlessness and seething. And that was just pulling away from the kerb!
Let's see. I've now had four lessons with my current instructor, plus three with that first guy who I hated last year. I don't think I'll count those. So, four lessons total. She says my steering has improved a great deal, my clutch control is improving. That's it. She asked me if 'had' to drive a manual, to which I replied yes. It made me feel defensive, but I can see where she's coming from. My redneck Arkansas driving style is a combination of a few minutes' tuition from someone who passed his test back in 1949, plus the self-taught survival techniques I developed while learning to drive a manual transmission car after I bought it! (And even that was over 17 years ago). The way I've always driven a manual is a lot like how you'd drive an automatic, only with a clutch. Meaning, when I stopped, I have always just stopped, clutch and brake together, then shifted it into first (or second if I only actually slowed down), and proceeded on my merry way. All this slowing down to 10 mph while putting it into second with the clutch and brake depressed, all this split second timing and magical knowledge of precisely how many revs I should be at before I change gears, etc, is something I never thought about or fathomed would be necessary. So, I am struggling. At this point, I don't exactly feel I'll never get it right, but I do feel it's going to take me a very, very, very long time. I just have to reconcile myself to it, and to the possibility that it might not happen at all. Well, it certainly won't happen the way I'm approaching it now.
So, how long is it going to take? Well, conventional wisdom suggests that in lessons, it's your age times 1.5. That means for me, 61.5 lessons. Let's round it up to 62 just to be on the safe side. At the moment, I am only managing to get in a lesson every other week. That means if I continue at this pace, it will be 114 weeks, or roughly two years and three months before I'm projected to pass my test.
And how much is it going to cost me? At the moment, my instructor charges £24.00 per lesson, which is going up in July to £25.00. So far I've spent £96, plus the projected £25 times 57 equals £1425, for a total of £1521, and that's if the lessons don't go up again, which of course they will.
Right, well, I want to get my licence sooner than that! If I could manage to do one lesson per week, that would be a year and a month. And if I do two lessons a week, that would be 7 months. I think the choice is clear. I need to do two lessons per week.
The only way I can figure out to get in two lessons per week is to block book some annual leave in hour-long chunks and block book it with my driving instructor as well. I will talk to my instructor about that on our next lesson.
God, I'll be so glad to get this behind me. All I can think is, every oik I see has a driving licence. I KNOW I can do it. Question is, do I want to? And the answer is, no not really. But I have to.
I just ordered a book that will hopefully give me some moral support, The Girls' Guide to Losing Your L-Plates. The author writes,
This book was inspired by my own struggle to get my licence. I didn’t pass my test till I turned 40 and consider it one of the major achievements of my life! Afterwards I decided to write the book I’d longed to read when I was learning. An alternative to the usual dry guides which would be packed full of useful information but also be lively and entertaining. The Girls’ Guide to Losing Your L Plates covers finding the right instructor (and tactfully extricating yourself from the wrong one), going out practising with family and friends without wrecking your relationship (or their car), coping with driving test nerves and tips on getting the best car insurance.
At the very least it sounds like a fun read. The author, if you didn't click on the link above, took 23 years and over 200 lessons to finally get her licence at the age of 40. Now that's what I call perseverance!
May all beings be at ease. (Even if you're driving).