Posts Tagged ‘L’

No Longer a Loser Learner

Monday, April 20th, 2015

It seemed like such an achievable goal – upgrade my automatic driving license to a manual. My 17-year-old self made the fatal mistake of giving up on the clutch way back in 2003 and I have only been able to drive automatic cars since. My time in Europe and the UK has demonstrated that this was a silly, silly thing to do as most cars in the northern hemisphere have that whole moving stick thing and additional pedal. I was back in Perth for six months – I would quickly learn to drive a manual car and upgrade my license.

Yeah. Easy. Not. Learning to drive wasn’t the hard part and once I had worked out what to do with my feet and had thrown one or two hissy fits, I was relatively confident. Surely I would pass the practical test with ease.

Apparently I was wrong. As I sat in the car park of the City West Transport office at 7.30 this morning, my stomach churning and a feeling of doom descending upon me, my Dad turned to me and joked, “Well at least this will make a good blog post.” I didn’t laugh. This was the second time in two weeks that I was attempting to pass my practical test. Two weeks ago my Dad and I drove out to Mirrabooka and after 35 minutes of driving around the suburban streets, I was informed I had failed.

Failed? But I have been driving for 12 years. I have never had a car accident. I can reverse parallel park. I understand the concept of ‘merging’ and I stick to my lane in a two-lane roundabout. And yet I had failed my test without stalling, without crashing, without killing an innocent pedestrian.

According to the driving test man, who has since gained nicknames that I can’t write because my mother reads this, I was coasting and therefore he was obliged to fail me. I also apparently took too long to find somewhere to turn around in the ‘Oh no, I have forgotten my wallet’ turn-around-and-go-back-to-where-we-started task. This was purely because he didn’t like the drive way that I had chosen to use as it was apparently too close to the crest of a hill. I also have thoughts on this but again, too many rude words are involved.

After much discussion with fellow driving test failures (aka the entire driving population of Western Australia) this guy was failing me just because he could. I may as well have not driven anywhere and had him give me a list of ridiculous reasons as to why I can’t drive. It resulted in me having nightmares last night about failing once again because I didn’t take my foot off the clutch early enough when turning corners.

But today was a good day. I was with a friendly man named Paul (yes, Paul) who was from the UK (yep) who seemed keen to pass me from the start. This time I drove around for 35 minutes feeling like I couldn’t do anything wrong. He suggested easy places for me to turn around, encouraged me to nudge my way in to a busy row of traffic and said “Just go through” when a traffic light turned orange as I approached. At the end of my test he said I had passed with 100 per cent which is a significantly different result to two weeks ago. Either my left foot had gained epic skillz over that short time period or there’s something just not quite right about the system – who am I to say? All I know is that I passed and I no longer have to drive around with bright yellow ‘L’ plates attached to my car and my dad sitting in the seat next to me.

Learning to Drive Again.

Friday, February 20th, 2015

I have had my driver’s license for a scarily long length of time. Twelve years ago I passed my driving test on the first attempt and hit the road as an independent P-plate driver, phoning my mum at home for an entire semester to let her know that I had made it to Uni safely.

Somewhat unfortunately, I made the lazy decision to avoid the frustration of learning to drive a manual car and opted to get an automatic license. As a result, I have spent the last four years being unable to borrow anyone’s car while living in France and England as most people own manual cars. Therefore, high on my priority list of ‘Things to do while back in Australia’ is to get my manual license. Joy, oh joy.

L plates

L for Learner.

The good news.

I didn’t need to re-sit a theory test to get my learners permit. Nor do I need to do 25 hours worth of logged driving hours. That’s where the good new ends.

The less good news.

Despite these two very positive points, I did, however, still need to go to a Licensing centre and wait with half of Perth’s population for almost an hour, worrying about my rapidly expiring parking ticket ($3.90 per hour), in order to pay for a learner’s permit. Why I can’t just do this when I go to sit my practical test, I’m not quite sure. But it is done now and I have a yellow piece of paper that says that I am once again a ‘Learner’. I’m even going to get a card in the mail with my photograph on it. Shame I had a swollen eye yesterday thanks to an ingrown eyelash. GOR-GEOUS.

I hate being useless.

I have been out driving with my Dad a few times now and it hasn’t been a complete disaster. I am yet to crash and my rating of stalling the car isn’t that high, considering my lack of experience with a clutch. However, it is testing my ability to accept my flaws and be ok with the idea that I am learning and therefore am not going to be an expert yet. This is hard as I hold ridiculously high expectations of myself and I consider myself to already be a competent driver, and yet I am now struggling to get a car to go from stationary to moving. I am glad my Dad has less-than-perfect hearing as I stop un-lady-like words escaping from my mouth.

Anyway, give me a month and I’ll be a pro. In the meantime, if you see a white Volkswagon Up! (yes, the car has an exclamation mark in its name which hurts every bone in my writer’s body) with ‘L’ plates on it, please give me space.