Reportedly, many people have fond memories of being 16 years old, receiving their driver’s license, and driving a car independently for their very first time. No parents, windows down, they get to listen to whatever radio station they want at full blast; pure freedom and open road.
I distinctly remember driving out of Yreka High School’s junior parking lot for the first time. My dominant emotion was fear. California has a law prohibiting new drivers from transporting passengers for six months. I clutched the steering wheel, blinker on, too scared to make a left turn. Should I go now? Or maybe….now. Now? I asked myself in anguish. I definitely would’ve voted for the buddy system.
How, you may wonder, did I get a driver’s license in the first place if I was such a nervous driver? The answer: I test extremely well. I never studied, yet I’d walk into a classroom and set the curve for a final exam. I wouldn’t realize until after I’d left that I wasn’t enrolled in the class and that the entire test had been written in Italian, which is not one of the one languages I speak.
I would forget the contents of the test in their entirety the instant I was finished, including my first name and the date, but by then it was too late. I was a legal driver.
When the gas gauge hit E on that first tank, I pulled into a gas station, then realized I didn’t know how to pump gas. Luckily, a male classmate stopped by to assist.
The other day, I drove to work over a Northern Nevada summit before dawn. A skiff of snow had fallen during the night, and the blacktop was slick. I was doing 50 mph, and still my Ford Ranger fishtailed all over the highway. This is its favorite activity, second only to breaking down.
Several people passed me. I have Arizona plates on my pickup, and I know the locals were thinking Stupid Arizona idiots who can’t even drive in the snow! I wanted to roll down my window and yell into the early-morning darkness, “I’m not an Arizona idiot! I’m just a really bad driver!” but I was too scared to uncurl a single finger from my steering wheel.
This essay doesn’t really have a point, except I am a bad driver. It’s not because I’m a woman, nearsighted, farsighted, or brunette. It’s just me 🙂