Beep Beep Mmm Beep Beep Yeah

December 7, 2008

Today’s Holidailies prompt: If you could change, undo or modify one decision in your past, which would it be and why?

If I could (and I’m not convinced that I can), I would change the decision to give up on getting my driver’s license.

I got my permit when I was 16.  My mother took me out driving quite often.  Surprisingly enough, she was patient and encouraging.

Besides cruising around town, I would drive to the Massachusetts border on our weekend trips to our summer cottage in the Berkshires. This was an experience I very much enjoyed despite the fact that my sister, Michele, would throw herself to the floor of the backseat and shriek, “We’re all gonna die!!!!”

Michele wasn’t being dramatic. Well okay, she was being dramatic, but her terror was quite real, nevertheless, even though our mother assured me that there was nothing scary about the way I was driving.   Michele was shitting her pants simply because someone other than an adult was steering the car.

One day, I drove to a day care center to pick up my brothers, Mark and Michael.  As I was about to make the turn into the driveway, I noticed a man who was clearly intoxicated staggering across the street.  He made me nervous, and, instead of paying attention to what I was doing, I kept an eye on him.  As a result, I miscalculated the turn, and scraped up against a utility pole.  The door on the driver’s side was badly dented. I felt terrible.

My mother was very good about the whole thing, and did her best to get me to drive the car home.  I refused.   I was too shook up.  My mother tried to convince me of the importance of not allowing the accident to undermine my confidence.   She said that I should face my fear right then and there, and, therefore, conquer it.

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  And, just as my mother had suspected, I never wanted to drive again.  I had seen the damage I could do behind the wheel of a car, and it frightened me.  I let my permit expire, and my dreams of the particular freedom that comes with driving along with it.

A few years later, I was out partying with a friend.  She had too much to drink and announced that I would have to drive.  (We were approximately 30 miles from home.)  I can still recall the extreme anxiety I felt as I sat in the driver’s seat of “The Tomato” (a red Datsun).

I pulled onto the Thruway, and was doing fine until I became aware of the fact that a state trooper was right behind me.  I imagined the worst, and worked myself into quite a state of panic.  Fortunately, he passed by, and I managed to get us home in one piece.  But, that episode didn’t help to assuage my fears.  If anything, it compounded them.

When I was in my thirties, I signed up for driving lessons.  The first lesson went very well, but I was given a different instructor after that, and driving with her became something I dreaded.  I’d come home from those lessons shaking.   She was told right from the start that I was a timid driver, and not only needed to concentrate, but I needed her undivided attention, as well.  Unfortunately, her need for attention took precedence.

Ms. Driving Instructor was a talker.  A non-stop talker.  This woman would tell me the most intimate details of her life, her sex life, in particular.   Needless to say, her constant talking was a major distraction.  I would ask where I should go, and she’d say “anywhere.”  One time we ended up pretty far out, and she stopped running her mouth long enough to realize she’d be late to her next appointment, so I had to drive to the guy’s house to pick him up.  That was the last straw.  I quit the lessons after that, and bitterly resented the money I had wasted.

As you can imagine, not driving has had a negative impact on my life.  But, at least I haven’t caused bodily harm to anyone, which I’m really afraid might be the case if I got my driver’s license.  Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be…

P.S.  Happy Birthday, Rebecca!

Song of the Day: Baby You Can Drive My Car by The Beatles


9 Responses to “Beep Beep Mmm Beep Beep Yeah”

  1. LeAnn said

    This was a great post. I enjoyed it very much. I took my first driving test when I was sixteen and didn’t pass. I had never taken lessons or drivers ed and always just jumped in the car and drove. I basically taught myself how to drive. I got it in my head that because I didn’t pass, I would never have a driver’s license. When I was nineteen, I drove myself to the highway patrol office to try again. They were amused that someone actually thought it was perfectly fine to drive themselves to take a driver’s test. The first thing the guy told me was to parallel park. I told him I never learned how to do that and he told me to continue with the test. I have no idea why, but I passed. I do not like to drive but as you know, if you don’t drive it can be a hardship. But Stephanie, if you decide to take lessons again and get your license you will be fine. Maybe you should go for it. Even after you get your license, you don’t have to drive unless you want to. Happy birthday to your daughter!

  2. LA said

    Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl!

    Though technically I guess she’s a woman. Shoot.

    Happy Birthday, Gorgeous, Brainy, Kind, All Growed Up Woman!

    As for you, missy, you know how I feel about you getting some wheels! Anybody who can knit like you do AND read all those hard books you do can certainly drive a car. And don’t tell me you don’t have to knit or read when others are doing the same thing right next to you, piffle. ~LA

  3. Kathy said

    I got my driver’s license when I was 20 and my Class C (I think that’s what it was) license shortly after so that I could drive a bus while working as a camp counselor at a day camp & make double wages. Wish I had the same ballsyness now! (It was a school bus with a stick shift!)

    My mom didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 30s. I remember riding in the back seat while a girlfriend taught her to drive – in a cemetery. That way, if she hit someone, they were already dead!

    Oh god. Ain’t I the funny one?

    I say that 2009 is the year you go for it. And then you can be like a girlfriend of mine and keep the driving to the side streets only. No highway driving for her. Which is why I rarely see her now that she lives 2 hours away. But at least she can drive herself to the grocery store. And, perhaps, have an excuse to rarely see me. I should ask her.

    I’ll give you a hundred bucks in free jewelry if you do it. C’mon! You know you love jewelry!

  4. mercystreet said

    Happy Birthday to your daughter.
    It would be a good thing for you if you could just drive to Doctor app. and run errands. But I understand your fear. Once it sets in, it is hard to overcome.

  5. Bex said

    I feel the same way about learning to fly a plane. I’ve always wanted to do it, but even just flying in a jumbo commercial plane across the ocean makes me a bundle of nerves, so I would never go ahead and take flying lessons. But it must be great to be way up high above it all, looking down. I find driving more and more scary the older I get.

  6. terri t. said

    I was afraid to drive too. Until I was in my 30’s and realized that I needed to learn because my husband was a police officer and we had a chld and if something happened to my husband…I needed to be able to drive.
    So I did and I got my license. After that, I was able to get a promotion as an insurance claims adjuster because I had to be able to drive.
    You CAN do it. If you don’t want to take lessons, ask your daughters, a friend or your husband or someone to help you. You KNOW how to drive…actually you probably just need to practice and to pass the State test.

  7. Alvin said

    Great post Steph. I hate city driving, if I could get out of it I would but in Los Angeles… that is not an option. Fortunately for me I have worked the swing shift since 1984 and so miss most of the rush hour idiots. If one ever has a want to see Christmas spirit gone wrong, just watch the afternoon traffic for the next few weeks.

    PS. It’s not that I don’t like Xmas, in fact I purchased my first tree in nearly 20 years today, now I suspect I will have to decorate the damn thing.


  8. Stefani said

    So Kathy – does that offer apply to me too??

  9. Michael said

    I just wish more of the people who do have licenses would realize what damage they can do with those machines they take so much for granted. I consider myself a good driver because I think I pay attention more than bad drivers do, and really, I think that’s all it takes. You can’t account for bad luck, but you (and the “other guy,” of course) can account for the other 99% of the factors involved in driving safely.

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