Highways To Freedom...?

In December last year, my dad finally got me to stop procrastinating and do what most kids do the minute they turn 17: get my Learner’s Licence.
I hated having to study during the holidays, but I used the week I had before my test to get to know all the rules and signs that could possibly be asked about them.

Maybe if Dad had promised me a car like this, I would've gotten my act together quicker? But then again, I am pretty sure this is not what's meant by "functional fashion"

I went in for the test the next Thursday, and coloured in my multiple choice blocks, then waited for the results.

The wannabe dragon-lady first played tricks with our minds- using clever double-talk to confuse us about our results- but when she did eventually give out the results, I was glad that I had passed.

I use ‘glad’ and not ‘ecstatic!’ because I had a sense of foreboding come over me that day which I would’ve taken as an omen for the future if I were more sensitive to such things.

If I had been more sensitive to such things, I probably would’ve been more prepared for the most embarrassing, tiresome, nerve-wracking week of my life: the beginning of my driving lessons.

In the week, my dad fought with the driving instructor (which ended with a refund and a termination of services), I almost wrecked the new instructor’s car, I learnt that driving actually hurts (the muscles in my legs hurt so much after those first 2 or 3 lessons) and, most importantly, I discovered that driving is actually something I’m pretty good at! Well, that’s after I got over my fear of losing control of the car and driving off a cliff. There are no cliffs in Middelburg- but I got a little irrational when I was driving in that first week!

It’s 7 months down the line, and I think I’ve done pretty well for myself.

Granted: parallel parking (parking in general, really) is still something I haven’t quite mastered… but I will get there. And no- it’s not a “woman thing”: I wish men would stop behaving as if they zoomed out of the womb in a custom-made buggy and offered to drive everyone home from the hospital! All things are difficult: we learn, we get the hang of it. Some better than others. Get over it.
Yes, you should be terrified: your parents have exposed you to levels of terror you are WAY to young to deal with! They might as well have given you a gun for your 3rd birthday while they were at it. Tisk, tisk.

Driving in a busy CBD almost killed me the other day, though. It was around 17:00, so the roads were busy, and the drivers were impatient to get home. Also, I wasn’t quite focused on the road: my dad had forced me to drive, and he was doing that infuriating passenger-seat driver thing he does everytime I get in the car with him, and so I was irritated.

Well, I immediately added ‘learn to block out any distractions at all costs’ to my How To Be A Good Driver list when I had to swerve out of the way just before a truck hit us!

I didn’t see my life flashing before me, but I did hear my dad panicking, talking like he’d just had a mini heart attack right there and then. “Keep your eyes on the road!”, he said, while I thought about how multi-tasking to me always meant painting my nails while I checked my Facebook on the computer and held a phone to my ear using my shoulder so I could carry on a conversation with a friend- not keeping clutch-to-accelerator ratios stable, while checking mirrors and making sure I don’t lose my life to some maniacal driver who might cut in front of me because that’s what some fly-by-night driving school taught him (or her) was the right thing to do.

This is NOT what I mean by "multi-tasking". She gives us all a bad name. Nxa.

So yes, driving has given me freedom: freedom to fully appreciate just how difficult it has been for my parents to get behind the wheel for the past 20 years to chug me along to school, to sports meets, to friends’ houses and on holiday. They make it look so easy.

I’m waiting until I’m absolutely positive I can survive on the road before I go for my Driver’s Licence test: I want to be sure that I can drive well enough to pay back at least some the time and effort they gave me.

I have a feeling I’ll be biting my tongue when I’m being sent out every other day to buy airtime and bread, even though my parents are at home, just because they don’t feel like going out- but oh, well… ;)


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