Thursday, December 13

Driving Lesson # 1

I wish I'd been tape recording my first driving lesson, so that I could give you a tally on the number of times my driving instructor told me: "breathe" and then "breathe, relax, check your mirrors, stop clutching the wheel, breathe."

Learning to drive is just like any other big navigational movement -- walking, swimming, dancing -- it takes awhile before the movements are natural, instinctual, automatic. It's a bit humiliating to find something so very difficult...and then have the realization that Britney Spears, the Hilton sisters, and co all manage to drive on a daily basis. Maybe sometimes against the direction of traffic, but still. They're doing something on vicodin and booze that I have trouble doing while flat sober.

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My first driving lesson is in Chelsea, at lunch hour. You might think that's a better time than morning or evening rush hour, but it mostly means dealing with illegally double-parked trucks making deliveries. Since the two scariest things right now are shifting lanes and making right turns, this is not so good. As well as delivery trucks, I also encounter:
  • a homeless man on a bike with all his (apparently not so) meager possessions strapped on to the back, biking the wrong way on a one way street
  • cobblestones in the meatpacking district -- they make the car bumpy and swervy
  • emergency vehicles going down 17th street. When I pull over to the right, I'm fearful of getting too close to the parked cars. Of scraping. Of knicking. I have no insurance.
  • 15 billion jaywalking pedestrians
  • one crazed pedestrian who feels that I'm too close to him -- I'm not! -- and pounds on the car with his fist while I'm coming out of my right turn. This causes me to come to a abrupt stop, and then be grateful no one was turning behind me. The car is not for the knockin', sir.

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