The roads are a safer place without me.

drivingDriving terrifies me. There I said it. I’m scared of getting behind the wheel and navigating the streets… especially the streets in Lebanon. They are such a disaster. No rules anywhere, motorcycles crisscrossing all over the place, no street lights, cars cutting you off without so much as a warning, people who choose to walk on streets instead of sidewalks… the list is endless.

However, you’ll be surprised to learn that I do actually have a driving license, even if I don’t put it to use. My parents are always nagging me to get a car because they don’t want me riding cabs everyday, and they always end their argument with, “If you never wanted to drive, then why on Earth did you go and get a license?” In fact, my mother said that to me just this morning, which is incidentally what prompted me to write about this.

Well, to be honest, I did want to drive at first, but my driving adventures weren’t really encouraging.

During my first lesson, my driving instructor thought it would be useful to teach me how to drive using manual transmission. Bad idea. I couldn’t figure out how to shift gears and ended up stopping in the middle of the road, and let’s not forget that I have zero sense of direction. Plus, according to the instructor, I kept strangling the wheel. I don’t know what she meant by that but I gathered it wasn’t a good thing.

I dunno about you, but that would've been a little over my head.

I dunno about you, but that would’ve been a little over my head.

Five lessons later, we had switched to automatic and I was driving a bit better. However, my instructor kept complaining that I don’t use my honk a lot. I don’t know what she’s talking about; it’s not like I nearly hit two pedestrians and a car, it’s not my fault that they don’t watch where they’re walking. It was a bit mean of her to say that she’s afraid of getting back in the car with me. 😦

A couple of lessons after that, I grew accustomed to my honk. However, all that honking didn’t do me any good when my brakes failed and I hit the back of a mini-bus. The car I was driving was old. Thankfully, no real damage happened and I was off on my way… but I did shoot dirty glances at my instructor. For all I know she might’ve been trying to sabotage me!

On the last day I nearly committed roadkill. Everything was going so well for most of the lesson, then towards the end I had to drive out of the open space where I was driving, I looked left and right before attempting to pull onto the street, then suddenly… a man appears right in front of me. Thank goodness for emergency brakes or I would’ve definitely run him over. But seriously, who crosses in front of a moving car?!

driving 2

My instructor argued I did it on purpose. I begged to differ.

You’d think my instructor would make sure I never drove again, but as a mark of how corrupt the system here in Lebanon is, I got my driving license a few weeks later, without even having to go through a driving test. So you see, my logic is: if they grant licenses to people like me who have terrible driving skills, what’s stopping them from giving a license to a person with even a worse grip on the wheel?

Do you find driving scary, or is it a breeze for you? Do you have any funny driving stories to share? Do you think I should get behind the steering wheel or stick to the passenger seat?

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28 thoughts on “The roads are a safer place without me.

  1. If you’re that uncomfortable behind the wheel – don’t do it :-). I was four years old, begging my dad to let me “drive”. He’d put me on his lap and let me steer…we lived in the UK at the time, on a military base. There was very little I could hit on most of the roads we traveled. I got my license at 17 and have, for the most part, enjoyed driving ever since. I love getting to know just what my vehicle is capable of, then exploiting it for all it’s worth. My daughter on the other hand, has shown no real interest in driving. She’s asked for lessons here and there, but she’s not as comfortable with the concept as I’d like her to be so I don’t push. I believe good – great drivers are those who aren’t easily distracted or shaken by traffic. You’ve got to be cool and be able to think and adjust quickly when behind the wheel.

    My sister was reluctant to drive but life (and my mom) sort of forced her behind the wheel. To this day I hate riding with her, lol.

    I say budget for cabs, if you can, live places where public transportation is abundant, easy to navigate and as safe as it can be these days, and finally, make friends who don’t mind driving you around (and who don’t scare you with their driving). Works out for everyone involved that way, I think. :-).

    • It’s funny how you and your daughter are so different. Likewise, my mother loves to drive, but I can’t be too bothered to sit behind the wheel. And I admit that I’m easily ruffled and have a short attention span, so I’m definitely not cut out for driving, haha.

      Thankfully cab fares are fixed and cheap here, so I don’t have to worry much about that. Though unfortunately, not many of my friends are drivers, and all my coworkers live on the other side of town!

  2. Oh I am in a similiar dilemma too..to drive or not to.. and unlike you, the buck stops at getting enrolled in a driving class. I have a very short span of attention and an eye problem,. So I keep pushing away the lessons farther and farther. But if cabs are cheap, and you get to read when you are commuting.I think driving is a skill that can be lived without.

    • Reading while commuting is one of the perks of not driving. If I’m driving I have to stay focused on the road and can’t even take my eyes off if I’m stuck in traffic jams, and being in the passenger seat looks pretty darn good at such times. 😉

  3. I am generally a good driver, but there are certainly days when I have no business being on the road. I have found that practice with driving like anything else really does make a difference. I also know that every place has it’s own “driving personality”, if I can figure it out and “drive like a native” I do okay. Of course there are consequences. After driving in Boston for a week my (ex)husband refused to let me drive once we got home. In India I decided the only rule of the road was “whoever is loudest wins” (sound a little like what you’re driving in?) Someone once put me in a cab in New York City expecting my midwestern soul to find it a harrowing experience. “Oh no,” I said, “I’ve been to where these people learned to drive.” Best wishes that you get to where you’re going in one piece, regardless of how you choose to get there.

    • It’s true that every place has a driving personality. I’ve lived in UAE and everybody abides by the rules over there. I actually don’t think I would’ve minded driving in that country. But Lebanon… yeah, I definitely think the “whoever is loudest wins” rule applies to it.
      Thank you, Lisa! You too. =D It’s more important to arrive safely than anything else.

  4. I love driving, and until I got my Prius, I always drove a manual (my preference). I’m also quite proud of my parallel parking skills. 😉 But stick me in big city traffic in an area I’m not familiar with? Not good. Lots of anxiety.

    I think it’s hilarious (and scary…) that you got your license without taking a driving test. Yikes!

    • I found manual to be quite difficult! I often forgo to shift gears and that was bad when we were in the middle of the road, haha.
      And yeaah. I still can’t believe they actually gave me one. Good thing I’m not putting it to use!

  5. Zen , describing your situation ,you made the portrait of mine!
    (I got a license but never could drive etc. etc.)
    Remember that , if you kept your own car ,you would spend a lot of money, so why not spend it on cabs and be happier and more relaxed?

  6. My first driving test (of six)… the motor stopped all the time, and I even asked my instructor if he’d sabotaged something =P in the end I had kept the gear in 2, and it was an Italian car including gears that were very… well, even in first gear it gave difficulties to get it going. When I had my license, I made sure to buy a car with very easy to handle gears haha.

    • That sounds extremely odd. I would’ve definitely been suspicious of that. It’s good that you finally passed the test though, even if it took six tries! Automatic cars are a lot easier to work with than manual. 😉

      • I know, but, and I do not know how it is around there, here they are way more expensive. If I’d done my test with an automatic car, I wouldn’t be alowed to drive in a handgear one, while my parents’ car was so big and aweful… I would not be able to get more driving experience, which I did need. So my instructor did not allow me to do lessons and tests in an automatic car 😉

        • Ahh, well that makes sense. Welll… to be positive about it, I’ve heard people say that whoever manages to drive manual cars properly can easily drive an automatic one, but not vice versa. You’ve got the upper hand! 😉

  7. Like you I do not like to drive,though I do around my small town and county–I never drive in the city and in my corner of southwestern Ontario the traffic is not crazy–mind you I do not drive out of my little corner–and if I lived where you do I would never get behind the wheel–ever.

    • Cities are pretty scary places for driving! People always in a rush. And if you’re used to your small town, you definitely won’t like driving in Lebanon. xD

  8. Since I live in Southern California, I would be screwed if I didn’t know how to drive. Last year I went a few months without a car due to a major accident, and it was a hassle borrowing my sister’s car and carpooling, especially when I have odd hours.

    That said, I don’t enjoy driving. My first driving test was horrible, and I was cried afterwards. I was a nervous wreck–ran a red light after estimating the length of the yellow light incorrectly, couldn’t keep my feet stable in the parking lot and nearly drove into a pedestrian, among other things. I knew i wasn’t ready, but driving tutors just want the money.

    My confidence wavered for a long time, but it’s been picking up a lot lately. I’m licensed to drive school SUVs, and since my professors know me pretty well, I seem to end up behind the wheel pretty often. So when I drove for the first time that monstrous Ford Excursion for four hours without incident, I felt very comfortable back in my Honda Civic. LOL

    Driving is a good skill to have, and I encourage you to get better. However, I think it’s best to consider the place you live in. There is always other methods of traveling, and I think it would be awesome if everyone can take advantage of bikes and public transportation. Unfortunately, that’s not always realistic in some places. Good luck overcoming your fear of driving. =)

    • Oh wow. You make me glad I never had to do a driving test. I used to be a nervous wreck with school tests, and those were always written. I wouldn’t do well with practical!

      Yikes, the Excursion is indeed a monster. I can definitely understand why you wouldn’t feel comfortable driving it, haha.

      I like public transportation. For one, I can always read while commuting. =D Thank you! I doubt I ever will, but I appreciate the sentiment.

  9. I’m just about to get my license, and I’m already scared of driving by myself. I’ve only ever had someone directing me before so I’m slightly dreading that first drive by myself… I have to get over it though, or else I’ll never drive and I really want to. If only the people in my town weren’t so awful at driving :/
    I hope you can work through your fear one day!

    • Good luck! I understand where you’re coming from. I could drive when my instructor was next to me, but alone I would’ve probably panicked and crashed. 😦

  10. Hi Zen! It’s good to be back and read your posts.

    Driving could be scary, specially is no one follows the rules. I learned to drive stick shift back when I was 15 and leaving in Lima, Peru. Traffic there is terrible, just like in Lebanon. But, I was used to it. However, when I went back to Lima (after 20 years) I was scared to death to go behind the wheel. So, I do understand how you feel. 😀

    • Patricia! It’s so lovely to hear from you again. =D
      It seems you learned how to drive at such an early age, pretty brave of you… especially if your traffic is as bad as ours! And 20 years is a long time, I don’t blame you at all for being scared, haha.

  11. I am a bad driver & the streets are safer with me taking the metro instead. When I first attempted to get my driver’s license, I failed & didn’t even leave the parking space yet! I was backing out of the parking space and nearly hit the car next to mine , LOL

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