On The Road: 10 Things I’ve Learned From A Month Of Driving Lessons
One month ago, after years of excuses, dithering and pure, unadulterated terror, Anna Hart had her first BSM driving lesson and she’s blogging about it at Gratzia. Four weeks later, she’s come along way, baby. This what she now knows…
1. Pee before your lesson. The wise words of my friend Aggie, just before I set off on my first lesson. Two hours in a car! Where are you gonna stop? This is genuinely the most useful tip I got from a driver before I began learning.
2. New drivers get up to fifth gear really, really quickly. I’d always assumed that I’d be pottering around Tesco carparks in second gear for weeks before being let loose on the open road. But nope, my BSM driving instructor, Mario, has me on a roundabout in lesson one, and by lesson six I’m up in fifth gear. And amazingly, it all feels okay.
3. But that’s because being a total novice is easy. Your first few lessons, you are simply following instructions. You channel your inner chimp. You just OBEY. The scary bit, and the bit coming up, is when you have to think for yourself.
4. This woman cannot multitask. I still can’t talk and drive. I’m suddenly in awe of every taxi driver I’ve ever had, any friend I’ve ever bummed a ride off. As soon as I try saying, ‘So Mario, how was your mor-‘ I’m suddenly failing to stop for pedestrians at crossings or wiggling all over the road. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. (Mario assures the tricky drive-and-chat manoeuvre will come with time. Part of the Advanced Driving certificate involves your examiner engaging you in [mega-awks] chit-chat for ten minutes to see if you still manage to stay on the road. It’s officially tricky.)
5. You will worry that your driving instructor is going to dump you. We hit a rocky patch about two weeks in, when I swerved into the curb at the end of a lesson and leaped out of the car simultaneously shouting ‘SORRY, Mario!’ and ‘WELCOME, Airbnb guests from Australia who are waiting outside in the snow!’. I texted a ‘Sorry’ and he replied with a non-committal ‘Hmmm’, and I spent all weekend sweating, waiting for a ‘Sorry, Anna, but this isn’t working out’ message on Monday. I realised I’d taken his loyalty for granted. I let him doubt my commitment. I’d made him feel less important than an Airbnb review! I was sure it was over.
6. But BSM driving instructors will always have had worse than you. They’ll give you a second chance. They’re big-hearted, steely-nerved heroes who can navigate the stormiest of instructor/newbie relationship dramas.
7. Time sure flies when you’re terrified! ‘When you’re FOCUSED, you mean,’ suggests Mario. Either way, my two-hour lesson zips by. I might even be starting to enjoy them….
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