Saturday, 20 February 2016

confession of a stupid driver

Confession of  stupid driver

I look upon drivers who can reverse in a straight line and navigate the car into tiny spaces, so artfully. How do they know how to do that? Watching them, it seems as though they were born knowing how to drive like that. When women do it, wow! that I admire and truly envy. I feel ashamed that I represent the stereotypical woman driver, who cannot reverse. I apologise to my gender for letting you down. But, to my defence, I blame it on Diamond.
Diamond was my driving instructor, in Kenya. Yes, that was his name, and no it was not given to him because he was the best instructor. I was an 18year old, waiting to go to university, having nothing else to do, but learn how to drive. I hated it! I remember after each lesson, my clothes would be sticking to me from sweating out of fear.

The routine of driving each day was, enter the car, adjust the seat, adjust the rear view mirror , make sure the gear was in neutral, start the car, shift to first , release the clutch slowly, while simultaneously pressing the accelerator. Most times I would forget to put the car in neutral and it would jerk forward, and Diamond would sign in anger. We would leave town, driving in traffic, by some miracle I was doing that! Drive to the outskirts of the city, into this dingy area, stop at kiosk where Diamond would collect bunch of plants called “Mira” which stimulates you to stay awake, and I think is an aphrodisiac.  Then we would drive back to my house, where I would get off. That was the routine every day. I was his chauffer, getting him to his stash!

After a week he began to relax and make jokes. I began to relax too, and I really began to believe I was driving well! (No, I was not High!) In fact I was good enough to go for my driving test. I aced the direction board test. I went to the car, and the inspector said “Start and Off!” What did that mean? I was too scared to ask for clarification, so I started the engine and turned it off. The inspector looked confused. Then realising that I was stupid, he said “Start, Off” waving his hand towards the road. Ohhh!! I start, do the usual, put the car in first gear, and tried to move, I release the clutch too quickly and we jerked, and the engine spattered to a stop. He should have failed me then, but instead, he told me to try again. I did and jerked again but I manage to keep the engine running, and we somehow got onto the main road. It was good, until I had to reverse.  I tried and ended up making the car face right, instead of forward. The inspector had no expression, he just kept scribbling on the paper. Then the Hill balancing, one can only imagine!

So, dejected at my dismal performance, I drove the inspector back to his office. I realise that Diamond did not teach me anything! He was high on his “mira” and he was the one controlling the accelerator and clutch from his side, making me think I was actually driving very well. I was so angry, and I was about to shout at him, when he entered the car, but had to stop when he said that I passed the test! What! How?  I thought I was going to be like my father , who retook the test about 5 times before he got his license.  I then realised that when I paid for the test I had paid for the” License fees” as well.  I could not shout at Diamond.
So, I got my licence and I was one more unqualified driver released on the road , until I rammed into my own gate and did not drive again for many years. Until... I became less stupid, and earned more money, I realised I could circumvent the whole gear and clutch issue, by buying an automatic gear vehicle. I was so happy.

I dealt with the reverse issue by always avoiding places that were crowded, and parked in wide open spaces, even if it meant I had to walk a long distance to get to my destination. I still do that! If I have no choice then I get out of the car, ask any people close by who could drive, to reverse the car for me! What else do I do?

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