It’s been about two months since I’ve driven a car, so I’m feeling nervous, anxious, and excited to start again. I’ve done a few test drives this past week, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well with them. I not only have to remember to drive on the wrong side of the road, but I also need to pay attention to road signs that I’m not used to, my speed in kilometers per hour, and the directions the car owner beside me is giving me on where to go, all while trying to listen to the engine and get a feel for how the car drives. Oh, and most importantly, not to wreck the car.
My first test drive was quite an adventure. I had the guy bring the car over after work so I could take it around the block. It was a 1989 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission. I thought I might want a manual because I enjoy driving them and I might be able to get better gas milage. By the time he arrived, it was dark out. I did fine backing out of the driveway and pulling up to the first intersection. That’s where the trouble began. When I pulled up to the stop sign I pushed down on my indicator to turn left. I managed to turn the wipers on instead. The indicator switch is on the opposite side of the wheel! Then, I was concentrating on changing gears when I took my first left turn and pulled out onto the right-hand side of the road. Luckily for me, we were still in a residential area and there weren’t any other cars around. The guy had to remind me to get over to the other side, and we both laughed it off because there was no harm done. Twice while driving I pushed the clutch in and reached for the shifter with my right hand, only to slam my hand into the door. I made the five minute loop around the neighborhood without stalling out, so I at least had one bright spot to be happy about.
I took another test drive this morning with a 1996 Honda Accord and it went pretty well. I took it out on the highway (they call it the motorway here) and got it up to some high speeds. It’s pretty cool looking down and watching the needle hit 120, even if it is in kilometers per hour.
I have made the decision to get an automatic, since I have enough to worry about without having to remember shifting with my opposite hand. I never realized how much I don’t think about what I’m doing while I’m driving at home. After 13 years, most of what I do is instinctual. At home, I automatically know which way to look when making a turn, I keep my side of the car to the left part of the lane, and I know where all of the indicators and buttons are that I used while driving. All of these things I have to think about now and I feel like I’m 16 again. I know with time I’ll get used to it, but for the first few weeks after getting a new car, I’ll be driving without the radio on.