Journey to a licence of frustration

18 months of lessons

4 instructors

5 tests

A range of 7 years

Approx. £2040….

..later…. and I finally achieved the piece of paper boasting my driving licence! This was a few years ago now, but we were talking about this at work yesterday and it made me think of this time of practical torture for me. Naturally, by the figures above, I have a lot of stories to tell on the subject! It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I would happily do my degree again and open my arms wide to the thought of child-birth!

I am not practically minded or bodied, as you may have gathered if you are a regular reader. I am also not very coordinated. I am also a bit of a wimp. Combine this and I made a perfect learner drive for an instructor, who is more bothered about getting lots of money; rather than passing their students quickly 😉 And… the amount of instructors I had, some of them must have thought this!

I just found it all so difficult. I struggled with clutch control, road awareness, other cars and the maneuvers! Whereas,  the theory past of the test, I passed easily the first time. I just couldn’t put the knowledge into practice. I was so nervous the whole time too and I used to physically dread my lessons. Hence, why I went through so many instructors. The first one, whilst I was at sixth form, was recommended by a few friends and fellow students. They were all fine with her but I had a really bad experience. I don’t know if it was the reason I said above, and she did just want to take advantage of my fragile learning state and pocket my pounds, or if she just didn’t know how to handle a really nervous student. We would get onto a main road and she would say things like;

‘just drive…’

this freaked me out. Wasn’t I paying her to tell me how to drive?! If I knew that, I wouldn’t be having lessons! She also used to book me in for 1 hour and a half lessons and tell me she only had time to give me an hour and still charge me the full amount. The naive 18-year-old me paid this this. Only for so long though, until I quit her services a few weeks later. I wanted to report her, because she also got very impatient with me and almost angry at times… but I was aware that she knew where I lived and seemed to have permanent PMT and she did know how to drive a fast car…. I didn’t want me parents to have to pay for new brick work.

My neighbours did have to pay for new brick work, however. Not because of me funnily enough! A few years after the PMT instructor, my sister was going through the same traumatic experience of learning too. We both bought KAs to learn in. She went out in hers to practise with my Dad for the first time (she had had some lessons already) and

…. she drove straight into the house at the bottom of the road!

She panicked when a car was coming and froze. She couldn’t brake and my Dad’s attempt to yank the hand brake didn’t work either! So, I guess it runs in the family 😉 My sister also took 5 tests to pass and this house crash incident also made me even more nervous in my process (if that was possible) as I was afraid it would happen to me too! My Dad still hasn’t recovered to this date 😉

I would just like to add, that it didn’t take me 7 years to pass. I put a ‘range’ of 7 years above. This is because after the PMT woman and an old man, who couldn’t remember what I had done from week to week….

‘shall we go on the A38 again this week?’

‘Erm, we haven’t done that yet!’ *Panic, Panic*

…. I decided to leave it for a few years, whilst I was at university. I didn’t need a car for that anyway and I knew I would be broke enough as a student anyway to pay for lessons, let alone a car! So I stopped. No more nightmare lessons.

I started again after uni as promised but it wasn’t any easier. My 3 years of maturing at university hadn’t aided me in any way; I was still a nervous wreck behind the wheel. I had a great instructor next, though. He had passed my boyfriend, his twin and their mum. This instructor had patience by the bucketful. It was with him that I got through my theory test; learnt all that I needed to. A dangerous driving fault (going round a mini roundabout the wrong way), nearly crashing into a lorry and nearly knocking a cyclist off his bike later and I was ready for my first test! This was also to be my instructor’s last test because he was retiring. I really wanted to pass for him just as much as me. I didn’t. In fact…

I failed before I even left the test centre!

Yup. I did a bay park and was so far out the lines that I wanted to  scream ‘don’t even bother!’ at the examiner who went out to inspect it. Surely, she could tell we  were more at an angle than a parallelogram! Very annoying. But, I did the rest of the test because

  • 1.) I’d paid for it
  • 2.) It was good experience
  • 3.) There was still a glimmer of hope that she’d let me off if I did the rest well. I did (only 3 minors) but she didn’t.

I failed.

I always made sure, after each fail, that I booked my next test straight away. It wasn’t just my bad driving that got in the way of me passing though. Sometimes I felt that the driving universe was against me. One time, the instructor’s car broke down the day before my test. I had to take the test in my KA, which was fine but the thought of me panicking and there being no dual brakes, terrified me! I survived that test, but failed because I cut up a lorry on the A38 😉

Another time, I arrived for my test and it got cancelled due to bad fog. Just what are fog lights for!?

But in the end… I passed! I had an instructor fondly referred to as the ‘mirror man’ on that day. I had him for my 4th test too but he had to fail me. (I can’t remember why that time; by this point they had all blurred into one!) For this, I knew his nickname so I checked my mirrors as much as Peter Andre does every morning. I was looking in them every few minutes ,more than checking the road 😉 I even did my maneuvers… yes I snaked round the corner in my ‘reverse round a corner’ but he said it was OK (he probably thought ‘god, just get her passed and out of here!’) I was so happy to pass that I cried. But it turns out, that was just the start…..

Driving is still a nightmare to me. I don’t go doing all those stupid things anymore. I like to think I am quite a careful driver. But I still hate it. Whenever, I go onto a new road or have to drive to a strange place, I get really anxious. If there were no other cars on the road, then I would be fine 😉 When I started my new job – the first time I had actually needed to drive to a place on a regular basis – I went down the A38 the wrong way! I am getting better but I don’t think  I will ever like driving. I do it because I have to and the increased independence it gives me. When I am on holiday from school, I rarely use my car and will happily walk everywhere when I can.

… so I now have it. My licence of frustration… and what a journey it has been!

I hope that has made you smile, or even possibly laugh. If you are learning at the moment – don’t let this put you off, but just think ‘you can’t be any worse than me and my sis!’ Oh and it helps to leave lorries and cyclists alone and to go around roundabouts the right way 😉

xsxs

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Driving Me to Despair

 

Me and my boyfriend have lived together in our own house for nearly three years now. I like it. I don’t like the area so much. We live near a block of flats so fondly called ‘Cannabis Court’. I think that says it all. In addition to this, I like the parking situation even less. We don’t have off-road parking you see. So on the road, either side, whether we can fit really. It is also a bus route, which doesn’t help. People who don’t live on the street and park up to visit someone, don’t get the ‘unspoken rules’ that you have to shift your car right over or if on the other side then half on the kerb so that buses can fit. Also that you have to wait at one end of the street if car has started coming down the other end. Unspoken rules. Meaning, that we get buses impatiently pipping because a car is parked on the wrong side of the road (not on the kerb) and a bus can’t fit. I always end up peering out the window saying to myself ‘god, such idiots…oooh are they gonna move?’ It’s quite entertaining.

It is not so entertaining, however, when you get up in the morning and realise that your wiper blades have been bent backwards and upwards. This is what I saw this morning as I was about to go shopping. Drunken idiots having a laugh I imagine. I had to spend precious shopping time at Halfords asking for a new wiper blade to be fitted, to then be told that it was the actual connected bit that holds the wipers in place. That was broken because the scumbags had bent them back so far. So not as easily fixed. Great.

In the past, me, my boyfriend and neighbours have all had numerous wing mirrors broken… you know just the glass part so you know that it wasn’t knocked by a car. I think I had to buy 3 new ones for my KA – so we are talking one a year on average just because some thugs get a thrill from breaking property. Tyre valves have also been nicked and some neighbours have even had windows smashed in. Lovely society we live in, isn’t it? My elderly neighbour was telling me that someone set fire to his garage once and his car burnt to ashes. I just don’t get it. Is it just the thrill of doing something they shouldn’t? Or is it jealousy because they don’t have nice things? Or is it blind drunkenness and they just don’t know what they are doing? I imagine it to be gangs of teenagers, who have or maybe not had drink. This is why have categorised this post in ‘Teenagers’ but I know that this is prejudice and it could have been anyone. Sadly, though it does tend to be this age group.

From experience though, I know that the elderly can be just as nasty. When I had my KA, as it was a bit smaller and parking was a real nightmare (still is but I will go round the corner now) I used to park right in front of my house. This is the wrong side of the road if you like – pointing the wrong way – meaning I had to park on the kerb quite a way. I used to consciously think of people with push chairs and wheel chairs and make sure they could still get through. This is why, I was really angry when an elderly woman in a wheel chair had a go at me one morning. It was a Saturday and I had a lie in and then treated myself to some beans on toast with a cuppa and some morning TV for breakfast. Then I heard a massive bang on the window. When I look back now I think it was with a walking stick that she banged on the window with because I don;t know how she could have reached otherwise but I don’t get why she would have had a stick as well as a wheel chair. Anyway, she was shouting ‘move your bloody car so I can fit through!’ Then she wheeled off with a friend in tow. The thing that was the most infuriating was that she was sitting in her wheelchair in the gap between my car and house so she must have fit anyway. I opened my door, in my pink nightie and said ‘Excuse me, but if you have a problem, I would rather you come and knock on my door and talk to me like a civil adult.’ They ranted on about cars being on the pavement and threatened me with the police. She also pointed at numerous spaces over the road… I thought ‘course there are spaced now you stupid cow, people have gone out!’ She said she would scratch my car all the way down the side if it wasn’t moved. This made me not want to move it because threats like that shouldn’t get things done. After I calmed down, I did move it because I didn’t want to risk it getting scratched. But it really made me mad that by kicking up a fuss like that, she got her way. A couple of neighbours mentioned her too and I noticed they moved their cars. So turns out, threatening people can work, sadly. If she had come to my door and gave me a sob story about not fitting through easily, she could have easily made me feel guilty because, as I said, I used to think about that anyway and there wouldn’t have been any need for threats or insults.

The funny thing was, a couple of days later, I came home from work and parked in the same place again. I think it was only going to be for an hour because i was going out again so I thought it would be OK. As I was about to get out, I noticed a girl come batting down the road on a bike and to avoid my wing mirror, she over compensated and banged into my fence. I got out immediately to make sure she was alright and knew I was in for it now as her Mum came closer. Her Mum, though, had a got at her. For going too fast and not looking where she was going and asked me if she had damaged my car! I couldn’t believe it and because she had been so nice, I apologised anyway and made sure she had enough room and said that people complain and a wheelchair woman had a go at me the other day. She said that it was fine and she feels sorry for us having such a problem with parking down there.

Guess it isn’t always the things we do then but how people react. But I now know that number one priority in our next house is …. a drive!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS