“But you’re mistaking speed for getting what you need” – Driving Sideways
Some friends know that one of my ultra favorite singers is Aimee Mann. And this song, Driving Sideways, is one of my most lauded songs of hers.
I was reminded of this song when I actually got behind the steering wheel and learned how to drive. On manual mode.
This may not be exceptional to those who have been driving vehicles for several years now. But to friends and to my siblings, they know that driving and myself are like oil and water, villain and heroine, Church and forward thinking… Oh, you get the picture.
I am terrified of driving. I am also afraid for myself and for others once I find myself behind the wheel so I never bothered to learn this skill.
I don’t know if it was out of overoptimism or crazy confidence, but someone decided to make me learn this skill stat. What vera did was to teach me the rudiments of the gears first. Familiarity is one key as we found out. The next level was for me to actually learn to control the pedals and the stick shift and the steering wheel. And to watch out for people and cars behind me, in front, and on either of my sides. My mind was on overdrive as it struggled to make sense out of these new nuggets of learning and of these instructions:
– Turn on the ignition. Do not bear weight on the key; release hold on key quickly.
– Activate gear by stepping on clutch.
– Release hand brake when about to step on gas.
– Release clutch as you step on the gas. Coordinate this step well or else the engine will stop. Or your car will jolt. Choose your own misadventure. The goal is to launch the car smoothly.
– Step on the clutch and step on the brake when making a turn or braking.
– Listen to the engine. When it whines or complains, it means your gear is wrong. Go to the higher gear then.
– And a million other reminders that made me dizzy and jarred my brain cells.
So we went around the streets of Alabang with me behind the wheel. Instead of just saying “Car on your right/left”, Vera was reciting the brands of cars as I went plying by: Expedition! Kawasaki jet ski! Tucson! And the winner among all her statements: “O wag yang bata, di napapalitan yan.”
I actually drove on an actual road outside the village and did turns (like 20 times!) around a rotunda. I was able to change lanes. I managed to conquer humps. No blood was shed, and no car paint was scraped off.
My faults were the following:
– Since I was driving on the left side, I was only aware of that side. I wasn’t aware of my right so there were times I almost had close encounters with cars. And people. 😦
– Changing gears while I was cruising was relatively easy. Once the engine died on me, I couldn’t for the life of me coordinate the “release clutch as you step on gas” choreography. Many times my engine complained and died on me, and many times Kevin, the car, jolted.
My teacher was very proud of me citing another instance when she taught a friend and that friend didn’t learn much from her driving instructions. “Looks like I’m not a bad teacher after all,” she said. (See! Crazy confidence!)
What I did to cope with the onslaught of new information and conflicting emotions: (or what I did so that I didn’t pee in my pants) (or as usual, what I did as coping mechanisms because my mind is the way it is. Read: a basket case)
– I removed my slippers so that I could feel the pedals. Imagine my icky feeling #germphobic.
– Of course, being of Thumbelina origin, I had to adjust the seat.
– I recited the instructions aloud: “Eva, brake softly nooooowwww.”
– Of course, my sailor’s mouth was on hand to dispel tension.
– There were times I had to ask people (meaning, yaya and cute child) to step toward the gutter as I was lumbering by.
At the end of the day, my teacher was very proud of me.
I, on the other hand, am still bewildered. And scared. Why? Because the next few sessions will cover reverse driving and parking. And if these are held on weekends, better kill me now. Weekends = kids and yayas on the streets = bigger risks.
And as usual, Aimee Mann provides another nice dig to this episode: “Let’s hope that you know what to do to start it up again”. Ouch.