Short Stories - non fiction

Learning to Drive

Confidence has never been an issue for me. They say that kids are a product of their environment. I used to listen to my mom talk about how she became a nurse, how she purposely moved to Vancouver to work so that she wouldn’t be stuck in a small town her whole life, and how she learned how to drive a standard, “how hard can it be” she’d say. I guess I figured if she could do it, I could do it.

The first car that I bought was a standard. I didn’t know how to drive a standard, but I figured that I could learn. It’s not that I put a lot of thought into buying a car. What happened was my room-mate’s sister’s husband knew a guy who was selling a 7 year old 1981 Honda Accord Hatchback for $3500. So I bought it. I hadn’t looked at any other vehicles, and certainly hadn’t taken any for a test drive. I just took their word that it was a good deal, and bought the car that I didn’t know how to drive. “How hard can it be?” I thought. 

Bruce, who was my boyfriend at the time, agreed to teach me how to drive my car. I started by backing out of the driveway. Somehow I went up on the curb which lined the driveway, and drove out onto the street rather awkwardly. Not sure how that happened, but ever onwards.

While we were driving along, I realized that I needed some gas. I asked Bruce to check my purse for cash. I was so busy watching Bruce dig for my wallet, that I failed to notice the giant truck which was stopped at the red light in front of me. I nearly rear-ended him. Oooops!

After we gassed up, Bruce decided that I should get a feel for the clutch, so he told me to drive over to a street which had a hill on it. He had me practice going from stop to go, stop and go. This is the tricky part of driving a standard, as the car can roll backwards and possibly hit the person behind you when you are on a hill. So it’s important to learn how to go from stop to go on a hill. This took me a while to master, the car would roll backwards quite a bit before I’d get it in gear and move forward. The funny thing was, there was a guy trying to walk his dog on the side of the road. I kept going forward and backward as he walked along. I am sure he thought I was stalking him. Rather embarrassing, but a necessary evil.

I did learn to drive the car that night, and I enjoyed driving a standard. The car was old, and didn’t last too long. Before it actually stopped running altogether, it had a rather annoying problem. The car had to completely cool down before it would start, this meant that I would have to stay at a given place for a couple of hours before it would start for me. You can imagine how this wasn’t always exactly convenient. 

Eventually the old Honda Accord died. I had driven it to an appointment during my lunch hour, and it refused to start. I had it towed away and sold it to someone for parts. 

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” Mark Twain


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