Monday, 16 April 2012

Driving


Generally, whenever Louise and I drive anywhere, I do the driving. I don’t think that I am a better driver than she is; in fact I am pretty sure that she is a better driver than I am. She actually likes to drive and she was born with a foot made of lead which allows us to get places faster than if I were to drive.

I have noticed that no matter how awful the driver, they always prefer to be the one behind the wheel. I suspect that the worse you are the more you want to drive. The beauty about driving as opposed to being a passenger is that you get to start screaming before everyone else. Well, unless you were reading the paper or texting, while searching for the beer that you just dropped on the floor.

I don’t particularly like to drive. I am just too aware of the inherent dangers of trying to control a ton of metal hurtling down the road at 110 KPH while thousands of other people that are doing the same thing. I also get distracted by the shape of clouds, people doing odd things at the side of the road, shiny objects in the gutter and sometimes I get caught up with the dials on the dashboard. We rented a car one time and I was playing with the “extras”, checking out temp, KPH/litre and the radio presets when Louise kind of screamed that we weren’t on the actual road anymore. Now, she will often say that I should pick one lane and try to stay between the lines. Good advice really.

I can remember when I turned 16 and unlike pretty much everyone else I had no desire to drive. I lived in a city with a pretty good transit system and I could go almost anywhere faster using the “Red Rocket” than if I were to drive. That, plus the fact that in North America, far more people die in cars than in buses.

I was content not to drive. My dad wasn’t though. He argued that if he had a heart attack and needed to be driven to the hospital; if I had my license I could drive him. I told him that it would be better to get an ambulance. He said that I would be able to borrow the car and go on dates. I said I didn’t have a girlfriend and it didn’t look like I would be getting one soon. He kind of shook his head and mumbled “No shit!” He said that I should get my license because it would open up more job opportunities for me. I told him that I was still in school for a few years yet and I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t want a job that I had to drive. It turns out that he was right and I was wrong about that one. Finally dad just told me I was going to get my license and that was it. Good thing we had this chat.

I won’t go into the hell of learning to drive with my dad, but if I were to start therapy I would be spending the rest of my life discussing that. The day came to take the test. I did the written part and just made the grade, I think that they were very generous in the grading because I didn’t know squat. The guy giving the road test came out and got in the car. I think my eyeballs were sweating. You had to do everything to start the car in the correct order and back out of the spot without hitting anything. I was dreading parallel parking. I was very weak on the parallel parking and they always made you parallel park. I figured that if there were indeed a God then He should help me now.

It turns out that I didn’t have to worry about the parallel parking. Just out of the mall I turned right and the guy testing me screamed and grabbed the steering wheel to prevent me from hitting that oncoming car. I was pretty sure that I had failed the test just by the way the guy looked at me. I could see the whites all around his pupils in both eyes. I think I heard God laughing. I drove pretty well after that, and even nailed the parallel parking. Not having any pressure was a good thing for me. I eventually went back and got my license and have been driving in fear ever since.

More than a few years ago now, when my son turned 16 I told him he should get his license. He told me that he wasn’t interested and I said, “What if I have a heart attack and need to get to the hospital?” Well, you know where that conversation led. He eventually moved to a city with a good transit system and didn’t need to drive. In his mid twenties he moved back and he reluctantly decided that he would have to get his license and asked if I would take him practice driving. I did, and in spite of that he got his license and is a goodish driver. Well, he is better than I am anyways. Really though…who isn’t?

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