Like many teens, I waited feverishly for the day when I would be allowed to sit behind some wheels, i.e. drive. As luck would have it, by the time I was 18, which was the legal age to drive here in Indonesia, I was studying in the UK. In my university city I live on campus for the whole 3 years I was there so of course my dad, wise and sane man that he is, did not see the point in allowing me my own car. Not to mention one has to go through a very rigorous test to be able to drive in the UK.
Well then, what about summer? Yes, I went back home during summer holidays. The first thing I do is to enroll in a driving school learning how to drive manually. So I go through learning how to shift gears and learn to park. Not sure if I master parallel parking though. Then I took the test, passed with flying colours and start driving. At that time what’s available was this huge family sedan. It looked huge to my 18 yr old self. I didn’t crash into anything. Thank God. But I did got a ticket. How the hell am I supposed to see the sign since it was obscured by tree leaves? Regardless it left a bitter taste and I was only too happy to let my sister drive me around and took taxis for the rest of the holiday.
Fast forward a couple of years, I suddenly find myself living in California. To prepare for living in Lala Land, a driving license is a must. Luckily this time my friend’s home town was Visalia, CA. I learn to drive automatic this time. Took my test in Tulare, again I passed with flying colour in both theoretical and practical test. One piece of advice I got from Jen, when it doubt, go to the truck’s lane. They won’t go very fast. Was very nervous the very first time I drive on a highway. I prayed the whole way from Visalia to Burbank. Managed to got into our rental home in one piece. Thank gawd.
In LA, there’s no way around it. I had to drive around. To get to work, to play, etc. So every morning I brace myself to strap on my safety belt, turn on the ignition and off I go. But you know what, after a while I became comfortable. Yes I get lost every now and then but thanks to google maps direction and that ever-present LA maps plus and AAA card I zip here and there like I was born with wheels. My biggest achievement was when I go to San Diego to visit my cousin and to SF for fun. I drive there alone and I make it back, again in one piece. One literal dent in the whole experience was when I was hit by a car upon entering the freeway. I was in a hurry and I already give the signal but somehow the other car manage to ‘kiss’ the rear end. I spun the whole length of the freeway, it was 3 lane wide. It must not have been my time yet because as I spun I remember thinking oh dear God please let the lanes be empty and it was!!! I was safe, shaken but unhurt.
All good times must come to an end. As I was wrapping up my time in LA, Jen remarked how I will not miss the LA traffic. I remember chuckling saying actually I will miss LA traffic since it is still a whole lot better than Jakarta‘s. Couple days later I’m home. Jet lag over, I tried driving. And of course what’s available is either a big SUV type family van or a serie 5 Beemer. All huge cars compared to my teeny tiny 2 door Toyota. First I had to adjust to a different side of driving. Though the Dutch occupied us for 3.5 century, the Brits were here first and somehow their side of the road preference stuck. Then, Jakarta’s traffic is really crazy what with motorcycles everywhere and crazy bus drivers. I was so not enjoying it. So different from LA and its huuugeee freeways. Heck even in New Jersey the roads were bigger.
I then scratched my husband’s car. He didn’t like it. So I cease driving. In his defense, he then provided me with a driver. So much easier to get mad at the driver than the wife if the car got dings and dents. For a few blissful years I don’t have to worry about anything. Just get in the car, tell the driver where to go, then sit prettily until I arrived at the destination. I can read, eat, sleep, do whatever I want. Until now.
So far we’ve lived pretty much near the city. But very soon we will move into the suburb. Yes, we still have the driver but my husband thinks it is high time we have a second car so we would be more mobile. Due to budgetary restraint, he ended up buying a small compact city car. How much bigger can a hint be? Yo wifey, learn to drive. Again.
Well, I guess I have to overcome my fear of the streets and conquer it. Cross fingers I’ll be ok 😉
How about you? Do you drive? What tips would you give?