Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Wrong Side

Ok, I’m going to say it flat out: I don’t drive and it isn’t entirely my fault. Let’s start at the beginning of this journey – my sixteenth birthday. Most of you will recognize this as the day that you ran to the DMV for your learner’s permit; I on the other hand spent that day and all the ones that followed wondering what the big deal was. My lack of interest in this supposed “turning point” in life continued for several years.

Not to pass the buck or anything, but my biggest problem was everyone else. Let’s start with my friends, many of whom had not only driver’s licenses but some of them had their own cars. Then there was my family who were willing (or unwillingly pressed into service) to drive me wherever I needed to go. The final problem was the TTC, or Toronto Transit Commission, which served my needs pretty darn well back then, getting me from home to just about anywhere for the price of a student metro pass.

Eventually I gave in and managed to barely pass my driving test shortly before my 19th birthday and just in time for me to leave for university where I appreciated the photo ID but didn’t have a car to drive. Shortly after my incarceration in University, I returned to Toronto where I had a job right on the subway line.

I didn’t really start driving until Hubby and I moved to DC where he was the lucky one who had a job on the Metro and I was the one driving forty minutes each way to work. The tradition continued in the Midwest where he could walk to class and I had another long drive to the office. It was during these years that I learned to enjoy driving to a certain extent – just my car, NPR, the road, and me.

Even during all these years of enforced driving I had rules: I never drove on the highway because other cars freaked me out almost as much as roads with multiple lanes did. Having grown up in California, Hubby had absolutely no sympathy for me and felt that if he dropped me off in the middle of the Beltway that I would figure it out. Would that be before or after I had a nervous breakdown?

And now I’m in the developing world where driving is a scary X-Games worthy contact sport. Both in India and here in Kenya, I’ve been lucky enough to have a driver so that I would never have to face my fears and get behind the wheel. As for which country has the worst drivers? In India we sat in the back seat and never really had to watch the nightmare too closely thanks to Swami. In Nairobi we sit up front and I have the privilege of prying my fingers from the door after every ride. They’re both bad and let’s just leave it at that.

Which brings us the biggest problem I face when I return to a Real World filled with people offering to let me drive their cars. You people drive on the wrong side of the road! That’s right, I said it. I’ve lived with right-hand drive for two years now and that is now my “normal” direction. When I go home, I get into the wrong side of the car, look the wrong way into traffic, and, only once or twice, turn the wrong way into traffic.

My point in all this is that I don’t drive. Heck, I never really did unless pressed into it. So when I go home, please just offer to drive or drop me off at the subway. Don’t offer me the keys to your car because we could both end up regretting it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Personally, 1 more week and look out Californians....I'll be in coundry and puttin the pedal to the metal!! M