Monday, January 29, 2007

New Year, New Fear

I have a fear of driving. I'm not afraid of much in this world, but driving scares the bejesus out of me. For the record, I went to take my driver's test when I was 16 wearing a mini-skirt and a white blouse that was as see through as I could get without my mother losing her mind. Not one of my finest moments, but I was desperate. Up until my having to take the exam, my only experience behind the wheel, was driving once on a Kentucky highway that the locals affectionately called "Dixie Dieway" while my Mom screamed in terror while simultaneously my brother screamed at her for making him come along and put his life on the line "before the big game on Friday". Strong support system, I tell ya'. Surely with that much driving practice under my belt, passing the exam was going to be a piece of cake.

During the exam, I felt that I was taking way to long to parallel park and I was compensating by giggling at the instructor's bad jokes. At the end of the exam, my instructor asked me to stay in the car while he spoke to my mother privately. It was one of those moments when I could hear the blood pumping in my head. I was trying to read lips but I got nothing. In my mind the conversation went along the lines of the instructor telling my Mom, "Ma'am, your daughter is dressed like a low-rent flooze. This is the DMV. We have standards, you know." Whatever was said between the two of them I'll never know. My mother's version is that the conversation went like this, "She shouldn't ever get behind the wheel of a big car like the Jeep you have her in now. She should only drive in emergency situations." To this day I say bullsh*t, but it's hard to call your parents out on the white lies when you're dressed like Britney Spears coming off a three day bender. I never got behind the wheel again...that is until yesterday.

I had enough of waiting to learn how to drive all over again. I suddenly found myself screwed, because my new promotion (*ahem* different job title same pay) at work requires me to fly to places and (gulp) drive! So, I went to Budget, rented a car, and went for a drive. My friends were all shocked and quietly worried for me. I brought along my roomie for support and paid through the nose for every bit of insurance those car rental places dole out. I think I bought so much insurance that even if I hit a deer, Budget would remove the carcass, turn it into deer jerky, and donate it to the food kitchen of my choice. Manhattan driving was the easiest. I got to yell at tourists, honk at cabs, and shake my head in disapproval at the horse-drawn carriages. The one thing I know is nobody ever really crashes their car in Manhattan. You never go faster than 20 miles an hour in traffic. The most you get are fender benders and side scrapes. It's the pedestrians that should be scared. The highway is what I always have feared. It's the idea that some kid just saw Fast and the Furious or finished up a totally kick ass game of Grand Theft Auto 22 and wants to show off on the road in front of his "boys" is what scares me.

In the end I survived! I even told the lady in the toll booth it was my first time driving through the tunnel and that I loved her very much for taking care of the roads. She was very nice about the whole thing . At Budget they were proud of me too (possibly relieved) that I made it back in one piece. They also mentioned that Driving Schools offer "nervous driver programs" that may be a cheaper alternative to renting a car every time I wanted to practice. I asked if anyone who worked there had taken a class, and they all started laughing and said, "No, we're from New York City we don't drive. We don't even have licenses!!!!" Nice. You got me this time Budget.


Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I may possibly be a New Yorker at heart...I took driver's ed at age 15 but never got my license until I was almost 21.

Fear of failure is what I chalk it up to.

And had I dressed like you did, I'd have had worse problems than just Mr. Malia for a driving instructor.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I've had my license since I was 16 and learned to drive a stick on the winding country roads and plentiful steep hills of central PA. I'm a freakin' pro.

Then I moved to Miami where each car trip is like driving the wrong way down the street at a high speed with an explosive under the car, a timer ticking down seconds, and baby screaming in the back seat.

Then I moved here.

I haven't driven more than 3 times in the past year and a half, and I miss it...except for driving in Miami, I don't miss that. It made my hair fall out and my stress leavels peak.

oh, and, IT'S ABOUT TIME.

10:47 AM  
Blogger "said" Woman said...

Andy- Freakin' Pro, eh? Andretti Lykens...nice ring to it!

I agree with you about driving in Miami. Living there did nothing to help my confidence behind the's almost as if the driving lanes were some type of suggestion rather than a guideline. It had a very third - world type of charm to it all.

SML- Mr.Malia sounds like a real class act. what an ass.

I have to chalk up my lack of driving experience to fear of death, rather than fear of failure. I'm dramatic.

11:16 AM  
Blogger "said" Woman said...


11:20 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Wouldn't it be Andy Andretti?

And 3rd world charm? The only thing charming about Miami is the idea of leaving it behind to be blasted into the ocean by a huge hurricane.

9:57 AM  

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