Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Driving Along in my Automobile

Dad has a new car.

It’s a Peugeot 207, electric blue and I quite fancy it. I’ve pointed out that it’s a young person’s car, that it would be better suited for, say, a young, hip and happening 21 year old girl-about-town, but he’s having none of it. He points out that I, said young, hip and happening 21 year old girl-about-town, can not drive.

I have a slight phobia of driving. Okay, perhaps not so slight. Sitting in the driver’s seat with the gear stick in my hand, knowing that I am in control of an entire vehicle brings me out in a fever, sending black dots swimming in my vision. But I really feel an attraction to this damn car. And it seems like everyone around me is advising me to take up lessons again. And what’s more, I’m getting sick and tired of seeing kids around our wee village driving. When I left the village four years ago they were only 13; just babies! And now they can drive! And I cannot. I mean am I the only person left over the age of 17 who cannot drive around here?

I spend my life begging people for a lift to the bus / train station / airport. All my friends silently curse me as I hint for them to pick me up on their way. My parents really are my personal chauffeurs and poor FP, who despises public transport, spends hours and hours squinting at the road ahead as we traverse France while I snooze like a lazy eejit in the passenger seat next to him.

Could it be that after the four year break I am now ready and willing to take up driving lessons again?

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve failed my driving exam. Not because I don’t want to, but because I lost count quite a while ago. It could have been five, could have been six…It could be more. What I do remember, however, is the dread that filled my entire being each time my driving instructor pulled up outside our house in his little white car with the colossal “L” on the roof and the dual controls that were most definitely necessary when I was in the driving seat.

I may as well admit now that I am a terrible driver. You can throw all the blonde / woman driver jokes you want at me and I am the first to agree with you, because frankly, I am the poster girl for Bad Woman Drivers.

In my world, three point turns are twenty-seven point turns, reverse parallel parking takes 45 minutes, stalling the engine happens at every traffic light and don’t even start me on gear changes. I simply don’t do anything above third gear. Or above 40 mph either. It’s too terrifying. I just don’t trust myself to keep control of a vehicle. Cars are dangerous things. Very, very dangerous. And I am too. I am a danger to the public when sat behind the wheel, I jutter along the road, in a stop-start fashion, swerving from side to side in absolute terror. Terror, I tell you.

Yes, dear readers, needless to say, I am a driving phobic.

The thing is, back then I was only 17. Perhaps I was too young - too immature even – to really be able to trust myself to take control. Maybe I wasn’t ready back then, perhaps it was too much responsibility, too much stress, being thrown in at the deep end of a new adult life, what with the fact I’d just left school and my family home to become a student in the capital city. And I have to admit - with some embarrassment – that I didn’t exactly respect the orthodox practices of driving lessons. Well, partying and drinking until 6am before turning up to my lesson slightly intoxicated at 8am isn’t the best of ideas, I am well aware, but I was a student in my first year – it’s normal isn’t it? Well, would you believe, not according to the driving instructor, who was doing his best to remain calm and collected, but whose white knuckles clinging onto the dashboard for dear life gave away his less than composed sentiments.

The driving instructors; ah, that’s another one of those things isn’t it? It appears to be a profession for the insane. The first gentleman who taught me was named Jobie (immediately hilarious to me, because ‘jobby’ is a Scottish word for merde), who happened to be a huge Star Trek fan. A ‘Trekkie’, I believe they call themselves. He would go on and on about it, not really paying attention to the road ahead, nor what I was doing with the clutch that was making the vile smell and smoke and noise. He’d just chatter on about Spock. If you ask me, he had a wee thing going for Spock.

The next man (why were they always men?) seemed a tad brisk in manner. In fact, he despised me before he even met me. No ‘hello’, no ‘nice to meet you, I’m, Colin,’ just a nod of the head and a loud tut and sigh with each mistake I made. Which was often, I don’t mind telling you. And then one day, as we drove along a dual carriageway at 35 miles per hour (oh the shame!), Colin sneezed. Really loudly. Except I didn’t know it was a sneeze, because it sounded like a dog barking. It was the most non-sneeze sounding sneeze you ever did hear, and I got such a fright I swerved, screamed and then went into the best emergency stop I’d ever done. I was proud, he was angry and shouty. It was around this time that I started looking around for the hidden cameras.

And now, four years later, I thought the hell was behind me. Just a mere, distant memory. Although I certainly didn’t fancy a life condemned to public transport, I had fanciful expectations that perhaps I wouldn’t be going through the limbo of driving lessons again – in fact I was rather hoping that sometime soon the government would have decided lessons and driving exams didn’t really sort out the bad drivers from the good and would have abolished it altogether – but no such luck.

And so, it is with nerve, spirit and bravitude that I, Princesse Ecossaise, middle name Scaredy-Cat, am putting it in writing before I change my mind and give in to The Crushing Fear; I am going to learn how to drive. Again.

(Ahem…Also, if you plan to drive in or around Glesgae anytime in the near future, watch out for me. In fact, stay well clear. For your own safety.)


Deadpoolite said...

It is times like I this I am happy I live in Greece:)

You can do this Princess, just think of the "Burnout Dominator" game on Playstation 2 for some extra motivation to begin driving lessons again... Hmmm... come to think of it... don't look that one up in Google... it won't be inspiring:)

So you are one "driven" young lady (sorry I couldn't resist the pun, heh) it seems. Good luck with the driving lessons ( I was addressing to your driving instructor actually, lol).

I am sure Princess will prevail once again at the end!

Take care!

T.D. Newton said...

That's funny stuff!! I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18 years old (but not because I was a bad driver or anything). Parallel parking takes me about half an hour because I rarely ever have to do it so I've forgotten how. I do remember that I got a 97% on my driving test so that's cool.

How do you RIDE in a car if you're so afraid to drive one? At least you don't drive with your eyes closed hahaha. Practice makes perfect; just remember the wheel takes SMALL corrections. You can do it.

Ghosty said...

I didn't learn to drive until I was well past 21. I was a spaz behind the wheel just like you. It took me forever to get the motor skills down enough to where I wasn't a hazard to all life that came anywhere near the roads.

A couple of years later, I became a cab driver, and a very good one, too. Life is stranger than fiction.

crash course said...

First of all - not all instructors are weird or unfriendly (but I have to confess I think the living in constant fear sometimes does the worst to us!).
Secondly, don't make it a phobia (although it does make for a good read) just get out there and do it - you'll never look back and you won't regret it.

Despina said...

Princesse, once again you inspire me!
I identify with soooo much of what you have written. I really need to get back to it too, especially since the Jezmister said I can use his car to practise in! It's something I talk about with my counsellor a lot.
My instructors were all either nutters or poo-heads. Apart from Roger to whom I gave singing lessons in exchange for him standing behind the car, shouting "now Despi, I want you to do the best to run over my foot!"
You go, girl!

Zannie said...

You can come practice in my car - it's a mess anyway! I've been driving well over 3 years now and I'm 21 so I'm legally allowed to be the passenger when you're driving as an "L". I'll be much nicer than parents - they panic! My car does smell like pooches though... x x x

sugar007 said...

Don't give up,keep it up. Once you get that licence, the freedom it gives you is brilliant. At least you are not learning to drive in France. I don't know how they teach them here but most of the drivers haven't heard off indicators or stopping for people crossing a pedestrian crossing!!

ColbyPants said...

heh. Princesse, I dont have my driver's Liscense, and I am older than you. It has to a lot to do with being over nervous behind the wheel, as well as growing up ina place with easy access to public transport.

Carrie wants me to get at it again, though.


Princesse Ecossaise said...

Deadpoolite I think the roads in Greece may just be far enough away from me to be safe (just!) You can venture out in your car knowing your safe from me at least!

TD riding in a car is fine, I totally trust other people behind the wheel; it's just me! I'm incapable of driving well! (your videos were brilliant by the way, thoroughly enjoyed them; Micah is SO cute; "Kinder Surprise!!!" awwww! And you'z are both mad good singers! Thanks for sharing!)

Ghosty are you implying that there is hope for me yet?! :-D

Crash course, I feel I owe an apology; I didn't mean to clump driving instructors into one, it's just the ones I had were all stark raving bonkers - all five of them, but I'm sure there are nice, normal ones too!

Despi! I'm SO glad I'm not alone! Hip hooray! You and me we'll learn together!

Zannie my darling you're going to regret having said that! I may just take you up on that! :-O oh-oh!! Stick another one of them trees in your car and it'll disguise the animal smell! Woofie!

Sugar you've no idea how much I want that freedom...Gawwwwwd it would be amazing just to climb in the car and drive anywhere I want-alone! As for learning to drive in France...the thought did cross my mind! It looks like they let almost anyone have a permit there - hmmmmm....

Tom, you rock! Me you and despina are the no driving crew, we are so cool - too cool for driving! Yasssss.

Don't you be nervous; after all, you can't be half as bad as I am surely! Take solace!

Anonymous said...

> poor FP, who despises public
> transport, spends hours and
> hours squinting at the road
> ahead

I don't know who FP is, but if he's the Frog/French Prince of yours, I fear for you. Statistically, the French are the worst drivers in Europe.

FP said...

8 years of driving license, no accident.
Anything else ?