Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium: Firsts

I'm glad I'm a tad late in writing today so that I could see the topic on everyone else's blogs. :)

I usually refrain from reading the other members' posts until after I've written my own. I don't want to be influenced by them. I want my post to be original. But today I didn't obey my own rule, and read a handful before starting this one. Maybe it's just as well, because Padmum gave me some ideas. :)

I thought I would tell you about the first time I drove a car. I don't know why, but I waited until I was 17 to get my driver's license. In our country, you can get a learner's permit at 15 1/2. Then you must drive for at least 6 months with a licensed driver by your side, and put in a required number of hours of practice before you can get your official license. But when I was a teenager, living in Kentucky, there were no time limits.

One day I was talking to my friends, and told them that I was taking the driver education class at school, and that I intended to study for my learner's permit. Some of my boy friends told me that I didn't need to study, that the test was easy. They encouraged me to go to the motor vehicles bureau and just take the test. I obeyed, but I failed miserably. lol I continued to study the manual, and I eventually passed the test.

After I got my learner's permit, I went outside after school and told my friends. At that time, I was running on the "Cross country" team, and all of my friends were boys. I only had one girl friend, and she had begun to veer away from our friendship. So I went out and told my boy friends that I had gotten my permit. One of them owned a car, and he insisted that I drive everyone home! I told him that I didn't know how to drive yet! He said something like, "Don't be silly, of course you know how to drive." He had me sit in the driver's seat, and told me to start the car. Maybe I was inattentive to my parents' driving, but I didn't know how to start the car! My friend didn't believe me. I knew that at some point I needed to turn the key, but I didn't know if there was something else I should do at the same time. Finally he explained it to me, and I started the car, and away we went!

This may not seem frightening unless you know the back roads of Kentucky. They have very narrow two lane roads with stone walls on each side. The walls were built around the farm property by the original slaves many years ago. My friends had me drive out on the back road to take one of the boys home. I remember being terrified of that narrow two lane road! Every time a car passed me, I was tempted to close my eyes! To this day, I shudder to think that they pushed a new driver to do this!

I did enroll in the school driver's class. I had a teacher that was a war veteran. He would take 4 students out driving each week. When it came my time, he sat in the seat next to me. He put his arm up on the back of the seat. Because of his war experience, he had a twitch in his arm that was uncontrollable. For the entire drive, every few minutes his arm would twitch and knock at my shoulder....

And so that is my first experience with driving. Since then I had to learn to drive a stick shift in Beijing traffic, and I had to learn to maneuver the crowded highways in California. Thank God that I have survived it all!

Now go read about the other consortium members' thoughts about "firsts". :)


Grannymar said...

I am always surprised at the difficulty Americans have in driving a stick shift motor. we knew no other kind. In fact even now when automatic cars are available, people seldom select them.

In Ireland North and South, you must be 17 years of age before you can learn how to drive. Here in NI, when a candidate passes the written and practical tests they must display an R on front and back of the vehicle, for six months this restricts the driver to travelling at no more than 45 MPH.

blackwatertown said...

Is it only 6 months now? It used to be a year with the R plate. You could try to get away without displaying it, to look coller. But there were so many police checkpoints it wasn't really worth it - they'd always check your licence.
But getting back to the first time driving - what a trusting/mad friend you had to give you the opportunity.
There's a song by Michelle Shocked about driving - might be "Memories of East Texas" - I like it.
Warm, if slightly elegaic.

Rummuser said...

My father taught me to drive when I was 15. He was a martinet and I got a few knocks on my knuckles for letting the clutch too fast or too slow or doing something else silly! He was a very good driver and I learnt well. The driving test was a cake walk except for one small detail, I did not stick my hand out while turning, though I had turned on the indicator. The Inspector, forgave me but insisted that till the rules were changed, I should continue both! My driving license is now half a century old!

Nene said...

I was terrified to learn to drive on the "other" side of the road when we lived in Ireland. And I do remember seeing the R signs in the back of cars there like Grannymar talked about. The funny thing was, after we had lived there a year and a half, I wondered why I had been so terrified to learn. :0)