Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Driving and Why it Terrifies Me

Happy June!

Today when I was walking my dog, several worrisome things happened.

First, the tiniest Chihuahua I have ever seen came running out into the middle of the road, barking at us like it was ten feet taller. I started to get worried that a car would come and flatten the little thing, so I hovered around the dog's driveway until her owner showed up, reprimanded Coco for going out into the street, picked her up as easily as a paper doll, and took her inside.

Then, as I was nearing the farthest cul-de-sac, two guys in cars came tearing past me at a speed I can only describe as highway driving, causing what I believe is the only black guy in our entire development to yell, "HEY! SLOW DOWN!" If I hadn't been on the side of the road, they would have flattened me. Of course, the idiots went inside their house before the concerned neighbor could tell them to slow down, but I appreciated his annoyance.
As I went past the neighbor's house, he asked me,
"Did those guys just fly by real fast right by you?" in a concerned sort of voice.
"Yes," I told him, and he made a sound like, "Oh my gosh, not again."
"They better watch out, or they'll flatten somebody," I told him unnecessarily, just to let him know I was on his side. He nodded his agreement. Then his wife asked if Lily was a beagle, I told her my dog's mixed heritage, and I was on my way.

Later, we came by Remington the German Shorthaired Pointer's house. Remy is always very enthusiastic about other dogs and runs in circles around his house, sometimes even stopping in the front to spin around in frenzied circles or make a rut in his masters' mulch. He has one of those collars that reacts to an invisible fence, but it doesn't always work, apparently, because sometimes he runs right out of his yard and into the road to greet Lily, like today. I was worried, again, that a car would come, so I stayed there with Remy until his owner came out and retrieved him.

Now, what do all of these occurrences have in common? Driving cars.

I will be nineteen in nine days, and I still cannot drive a car. Why? Well, for one, I took driver's ed only last summer. It was excruciatingly boring and tremendously useless, and I think pretty much the only thing I remember is the No-Zones Song (look it up on YouTube). Man, the kids in that video are such bad actors that it's hilarious.

This isn't to say that I've had NO experience with driving cars. I almost drove one last summer. Once.

My mom and I were coming back from somewhere, and she suddenly pulled into the itty-bitty parking lot of our local animal shelter. "Why don't you drive the rest of the way back?" she said.

I was nervous, but excited at the prospect of driving for the first time. So my mom and I switched seats in our red Ford Escape, and I prepared to make my first voyage into driving. I made sure the mirror was right. I fastened my seat-belt. My legs felt far too short for the car. I put the car in reverse. I pushed ever so slightly on the gas pedal.

And the mid-sized SUV rocketed backward like it was trying to avoid a falling piano.

"Brake! Brake!" my mom yelled frantically.

"I am! I am!!" I replied in a frenzy.

Finally, the car stopped, inches from the parked car behind me. I stared ahead, panting. "I don't think I can drive home," I told my mom.

"That's okay," she said, breathing a little hard herself.

On the way home, my mom told me how sorry she was. She said she shouldn't have let my first time be with an SUV that drives like a truck. I also pointed out that I'd never even driven forward, much less backward. She felt terrible, but so did I. I was pretty much traumatized.

And now whenever I think about maybe practicing driving, it feels like I'm going to cause an accident. I can't possibly do it right. I'll back over a Chihuahua or run over someone innocently walking their dog. I'll forget a road rule and pass someone I'm not supposed to pass, and at the wrong time. Somehow, I just know I won't be able to do any of it. It's just far too complicated.

Maybe we should start learning to drive when we're very young, and just not be able to drive legally until we're older. Kind of like how they teach you about how cigarettes are bad in elementary school, but you're not allowed to find out for yourself until later. Everybody learns to drive--so why don't we teach it in school? Why should the art of driving have so many secrets only shared with those willing to pay for driver's ed? Other places teach driving at school as part of the curriculum. Why don't we? It just doesn't make sense to me. It's stupid. We're wasting time teaching stuff that people will never use, like Pickle Ball, and not teaching stuff that everybody should know.

Anyway, someday I hope I'll be able to drive, because then I could go places without asking someone to take me, and then I'd have a lot more to write about. But for now, I'll just focus on trying not to get run over in my own neighborhood.

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