Sunday, 15 August 2010

Driving is not for the faint hearted

I am a little nervous about moving to America.

It's not because I will be moving away from my family (although I will miss them incredibly). And it's not because I am afraid I wont make any friends (ppshht... this is me we are talking about - friend maker extraordinaire).

Nope - I am nervous because I am expected to navigate the opposite side of the road in a truck that even Dal hates to park. Ooohh.... my tummy goes all queasy every time I think of that big beast that is waiting for me. Waiting oh so silently, but ever so menacingly.

I think if I were to drive the same size vehicle here in Australia, I would be a little hesitant. But my confidence in my driving skills would take over and I would soon OWN that truck. But my first experience driving in North America leaves me with no confidence at all.

I was given a small hatchback to zip around in by the family I nannied for in Canada. It was the middle of Winter so I was a cautious and very safe driver. My sister and I were invited to have dinner with a few other young adults in the area, so I drove slowly in the dark to the appointed restaurant. It took all my concentration to remember that when I turned right I was to keep to the curb and when I turned left I needed to NOT turn into the oncoming traffic. All very confusing when you are trying to shift gears with the wrong hand. YOU try telling your brain to do the opposite to everything you have learned - I defy you not feel flustered and disorientated.

We had a very nice meal. Thank-you-very-much. We met new people, we laughed, we marveled at how inexpensive the meals were, and we couldn't quite grasp the concept of tipping.

And then my sister and I jumped into the car (not before both going to the wrong sides of the car and having a giggle about it). We were pleased with how well the dinner went and we discussed as I pulled out of the driveway. For a few blissful seconds nothing was wrong.

Then my sister started screaming at me. And because she was screaming, I couldn't understand a word she was saying. I looked at her and started piecing her screams together - my brain slowly forming the sentences that she was making. Quite obviously my cognition of her screams was a little slow for my sisters liking so she reached across to the steering wheel like a crazy woman and started wrenching at the wheel.

I fought with my crazy sister. I started girl slapping her away from me and doing quite a bit of my own screaming. Somehow through all the screaming and grabbing and slapping we managed to end up on the correct side of the road - the side with NO oncoming traffic.

Because we had been turning out from a driveway with no clear wrong and right sides, I had quite automatically turned left and kept to the curb. My sister thought she was going to die despite there being no traffic coming toward us at the time. By the time we corrected our position there were a few cars coming toward us, but they weren't to know that anything had been wrong.

I don't think my sister handled that situation all too well. Who tries to steer a car from the passenger seat while in hysterics anyway??!!

I am only glad my sister wont be there when I swing my "new" big truck into oncoming traffic. And if you happen to be in Mesa for the next 3 months or so, I suggest you give any big white truck you see a fairly wide berth. There's a good chance that after three months of driving, I still wont be sure where I am.


kiwibabee said...

I could have written this, but opposite for me. When I got here, I had to learn to drive on the other side of the road on a huge van that was a manual that was by the steering wheel. I still have nightmares about it. I do remember deriving down the road on day, and I was on the correct side of the road and some truck was coming straight at me. Talk about throwing me off. I also dream a lot about trying to decide what side of the road I need to be driving on.

DeNae said...

You know how, when you're running a fever, you have wacky dreams? This is my fever dream. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Only, no matter which side I'm on, it's the wrong side. The lanes just change without any warning, and everyone on the road understands it but me.

I'm thinking there is something very psycholigically revealing about all of this.

And I'm going to avoid driving in Mesa for a year or so. Nothing personal, darling Helen!

fifi said...

Yeah well if you couldn't verbalize the fact that someone was driving on the wrong side of the road adn certain death was approaching what would you do?! HUH?! HUH?! Sit there calmly and wait for it to happen? I think not!! Which sister are you talking about anyway? :) I remember being there. I remember it. Was Brodie there?