Friday, 24 June 2011

Learning to Drive

My partner handed in his drivers license before we met when he decided it wasn't safe to drive after he was diagnosed with a medical condition. Now, after my recent heart attack and restrictions on my driving, he decided the time was right to reapply to get it back as his health has improved. Like a lot of things, you need to start at the bottom and work your way back to the top. Getting back a drivers license is no different.

He has been driving since he was 12, where driver education consisted of driving a drunk parent home from the pub. 20+ years of driving experience and an advanced driving course along the way. A piece of cake. After successfully passing the first stage, the Learners Permit, he was ready to drive with supervision. He had the option of going for his license straight away, but decided driving as a learner was the best course of action, after all, he was a little rusty after not being behind a wheel for so long.

Today we went for the first drive.

In my time I've been to Disneyland and Knotsberry's Farm and ridden on the wildest, scariest, heart stopping, white knuckle rides that these theme parks have to offer. They don't hold a candle to what I experienced today.

Most cars these days come equipped with a handle above the passenger side door, which I now affectionately call "the Jesus Bar". I called it by name quite a few times while my face was squashed up against the roof lining as we took the first roundabout on two wheels. Pedestrians scattered, dogs ran up trees and women and children bolted in all directions as we made our way down the street. My partner reassured me that "he had done this before" and I should  "relax and enjoy the ride".

Thank goodness the foot well in the station wagon is roomy enough to accommodate me.The only problem with this is that as the supervising driver, I am required to instruct and teach the finer points of driving to the learner. I found it hard to talk and scream at the same time. At the next turn, the Jesus Bar bailed off the door and joined me on the floor.

I signaled frantically for him to pull over and stop. I'm so glad I had the brakes done recently and I'm sure the panel beater can knock out the dint in the firewall where my head hit. Learning to drive can be a traumatic experience I discovered, more so for the instructor than the one being instructed.

"What's wrong?" he said.
"I'm feeling a little queasy from all these new tablets," I said as I climbed back into my seat. "Perhaps we can go home and do this a little later?" I gave him a wane smile and it did the trick.
He nodded. "I'll take it nice and slow on the way back," he said.

The trip home was a little less dramatic, probably because I was too frightened to open my eyes. As we turned into the driveway, I breathed a sigh of relief and pried my fingers off the seat. I'm sure the panel beater can recommend a good upholsterer to fix the holes.

He was beaming broadly. "That was good!" he said. "Just like riding a bike!"

Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow we are going to practice parallel parking.

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