Life Without Wheels

As of today I have been holding onto my Learner’s Driver Licence for 7 years, 3 months, and 26 days.

I was 15 and at college when I first took the initial scratchie test at my local testing agency.

Since then I have practised driving with an instructor (usually my Mum) off and on again. I guess you could say this is my greatest procrastination to date.

You may be aching to hear if I’ve got a good excuse.

Well, quite frankly, there isn’t one. But I’ll still spurt out whatever reasoning that’s kept me going thus far.

Firstly I’m a chicken. Yep, one of those things with the beak and feathers. Cars have always been one of my biggest fears, even as a passenger. I can’t help but play it over and over in my head — a nasty collision into other traffic or sliding off the road. To put my mind at rest I would engross myself in a book, or some handheld game.

Now just imagine me at the wheel.

Not a pretty picture huh?

And there have been many a time where I’ve flat out lost it while driving. I know everyone goes through the same thing; getting flustered and desperate. But it doesn’t make it any easier. And I’ve ripped off that plaster slow, seven years slow.

I think I’m more relaxed now, though it doesn’t help me drive any better — go figure. I still get quite nervous at roundabouts and traffic lights. My movements with the gears are always jerky. Even starting up is a 50/50 gamble.

God was against me from the start. I don’t even have that “male” desire of owning a Ferrari or some expensive sports car. In fact I couldn’t tell the difference between a Ferrari or an Aston Martin if you put a gun to my head. Being hit by two cars while biking, and a near-hit on a pedestrian crossing has done absolute wonders for my confidence.

In February this year I finally bit the bullet and booked my Restricted driving test. One of my other pet fears is failure, and the price of the test didn’t help too much either. Of course in a testing situation nerves are at an all time high. On my test I froze at an intersection, waiting for the traffic to die out.

It didn’t.

Just like they say, every minute felt like an hour. During the test my driving instructor told me to be more relaxed and not drive like a robot. My hands were super glued to the steering wheel. Oh and I also held up cars at the traffic light by waiting on a little green arrow.

At the end I received a big fat F. What was left of my confidence was immediately obliterated. I locked the car, walked to the corner and literally slid down the wall moping in a crumbled heap. My younger brother took his test less than a week later, passing with ease.

No licence, no car. I had to continue to rely on friends and family to ferry me around. Since college my bike became my third leg. I did try a scooter for a while, but soon gave it up after having more accident-prone visions.

Now that I’m not living on my own I resolve to walking and biking full-time. While that’s okay for the most part, it doesn’t make it easy to cart stuff around. Today I walked home from Mitre 10 carrying a new drying rack. Last week I carried home my supermarket shopping. If I don’t break my shoulders in the process, I might even develop some muscle out of it.

Of course I can’t deny sometimes feeling smug about not owning a petrol guzzler/people mower. Part of me feels like I’m doing my bit for the planet by abstaining from the highway race.

But the inconvenience is just too much sometimes.

Why be the one guy who doesn’t drive, when you’re only going to make your one and only life more difficult for yourself? That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop recycling, and tell the planet to go to hell. But it does mean I’m going to be a little easier on myself.

If you were hoping for a happy ending you’re not going to get one. At least not now anyway.

There’s still a big road ahead of me (pun intended); The passing of my Restricted test… The purchasing of my first car…

The time I finally stop scaring myself with visions of demolition derbies…

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