Only a few months ago (the 30th of November last year to be precise) I was sitting in a car for the very first time, totally and utterly perplexed by the sheer number of buttons, pedals and responsibilities that come with driving a car.
In the following months, learning to drive became a highly amusing (and often terrifying) escape from work and exams. Once a week, I would face my phobia of roundabouts, dual-carriageways and driving at over 40 miles per hour. There were so many things that I didn’t understand! When you stop, do you press the clutch or the brake first? Why do I need to indicate as I leave a roundabout? In February of this year, I sat my theory, and passed by a nail-biting single mark. Now I was ready for my practical exam.
On April 12th, I set off (absolutely panic-stricken) for what would be my first practical driving exam. The hour of preparation with my driving instructor beforehand seemed promising – everything was going well, what could possibly go wrong? Things are very, very different in the car with the examiner. The knowledge that your every move is being observed and marked is highly unsettling, and the tell-tale scratch of his pen, marking you down, completely obliterates any reserves of confidence. Despite this, with five minutes of the test remaining and with the end in sight, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d passed. It’s probably because of this sudden burst of assurance that I turned right in front of oncoming traffic and made at least two cars slam on their brakes. Needless to say I failed that test.
I was lucky enough to have a car (a small Volkswagen Fox) waiting for me when I finally did pass, so every night was spent practising before the all important second exam. By the time of the test, I barely felt nervous; I knew what to expect and how could I possibly make another “dangerous fault” like the first? Following 40 minutes of torrential rain, a dreaded bay-park and ten “minor” errors, shockingly, I’d passed.
So now what? Was I really being allowed in a car on my own? Could I really go anywhere I wanted? Thrilled by the prospect, during my first month of driving, I took the car everywhere. Driving to school every morning was fine, not a problem. I should say that driving in a car with four other hysterical passengers, music blasting and with non-stop conversation is a little disorientating. Because of this, I’ve had a few close encounters with other drivers and pedestrians. I also find parking quite difficult. Rather embarrassingly, if a parking bay does not have at least two empty spaces on either side, I quite simply cannot park there.
A month on, and I feel slightly more confident. I don’t cringe at the sight of roundabouts anymore, and the car is almost straight when I pull up against the kerb; it’s probably best to take everything one step at a time.
by Carole Saville © 2012
Carole Saville is a 17 year old student living in Cullercoats. She is currently studying AS level English Literature, French, Biology and Psychology at Whitley Bay High School with a view to becoming a writer. Her interests include art, music, reading and writing.
Carole can be contacted by email at email@example.com.