I have an ongoing love & hate relationship with cars. I like cars. They hate me.
It all started when I was 17. After I completed the compulsory 50 hours driving ed, I registered for the test.
The first time, I failed because I didn’t turn around a little painted dot at the middle of an intersection, although I did yield. It was supposed to be a roundabout. I apparently though it was modern art.
The second time, the instructor declared:
— I knew excessive speed was dangerous. But I never thought going this slow could be even more hazardous”.
See, it’s not I’m a bad driver. I’m just cautious.
I know the rules of the road very well – I passed the written test easily. But I never seem to know where I’m going when I’m driving. For some reason, when I’m in the passenger sit, I’m a perfect driver : I can anticipate, give advices, I see where I’m going and I enjoy the ride.
Totally different story when I my hands are on the wheel. To me, merging onto a freeway is what jumping in a circle of fire is to a circle and fire phobic person. I slow down, knowing that I’m not supposed to, one leg on the break and my hands tightly clutched on the wheel, I glance at my passenger and ask the dreaded question :
— Can I go ? Can I go ? Can I go ?
At this point, I have to justify part of my driving-disability by stating that I have a minor eye condition called blindness. The guilty one is my left eye. It doesn’t help when you’re trying to merge on a freeway in Canada where people usually drive on the right side of the road.
But if in the land of the blind the one-eyed is king, the blind in the left eye is a better driver in countries where you drive on the left side. I loved New Zealand and Australia.
First thing we’ve done in Auckland was to buy a second-hand car from a backpacker for 500$. It had a crack on the windshield and brakes smelled of burnt tires when we drove for too long, but I loved it. I didn’t take long for the Man to get used to driving on the left side so I was rather keen to try. Just to check if my curse could be reversed in the southern hemisphere.
But I didn’t know how to drive an automatic car. My first attempt was almost disastrous. I started the car, one hand on the stick and… and the car moved by itself. In front of us was a wall. Yes, I did find the breaks before crashing into it. I’m not that stupid.
Within minutes, I was driving on the road outside the city. I had discovered cruise control and couldn’t believe I bothered with manual cars before. For the first time of my life, I didn’t think of shifting gears or whether I was going to be able to get the damn car started after stopping at a red light !
— So, how am I doing ?
— Mmm… pretty good, but you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.
Shit. Well, I guess the car curse is still on, then.
Back in Canada, I can only be a seasonal driver. What, I’m not gonna drive in the winter, are you nuts ?
I enjoy the straight wide roads as much as I enjoy cruise control, but I’m still not comfortable enough to drive. I’m not even going into my parking skills. Oh well, I’ll never experience road rage, I guess…
Now if you’re nice, next time, I’ll talk to you about my experience with buses…