Driver’s Ed

Today has been a first. I’ve gotten in the same car as someone with only a provisional driver’s license. I admit: I was scared. But he had bribed me with ice cream and I couldn’t say no to that.
“Come on!” Jem said to Ed enthusiastically. “You can drive me to my jazzercise class!” Ed looked at me.
“I don’t want to.”

The thing with this was that I had never gotten into a car where the person had not been driving for a long time. There’s my mum, whose cars were the dangerous parts about being in them as one by one they failed and broke and made noises that no object in the world should. There’s Grandy, whose disregard for speed limits would sometimes lead to me clinging to my seat-belt for dear life. And there’s Jem, neither her car is lethal nor her driving bad. Yes, there have been moments where in some of these cars I thought Today I’m coming to terms with my tragic death but their driving has been licensed for over ten years and generally I can reassure myself that crashes have a slim chance. Ed only has a provisional, I don’t know how well his lessons have been going or what he has learned, who knew if he knew the clutch from the break or which thing next to the seat was the hand-break (we could have needed it if a near-fatal incident occurs) so I was scared. 

It, of course, helps that, having had very few friends in high school never mind friends who could drive, I had never experienced what driving with a beginner would be like. I have a hazy memory of a policeman telling us not to go in cars with beginners, and especially not friends (though I think stranger danger must be noted here too) since they want to show off what they can do. If there’s any words to follow it is that of a law-enforcing officer, so I wanted to back down until they had came back from this escapade unscathed and someone could hark to me praises of how brilliant Ed’s driving was. Oh, but I am fickle. So sold out on ice cream. 

It was not a good start. First I did not step foot in the car until Ed had pulled out of the parking space from the small cramped designated area into the narrow private road. Jem didn’t get in either, I can not say what this showed for our belief in Ed or his skill. Perhaps Jem was just as scared as I was, but she had suggested it and couldn’t back out now. Much like Ed couldn’t back out of the space (sorry). Firstly the car didn’t even make it two inches without hitting into the gaudy red one that was flanking it’s left hand side. Just a bump but my mind was instantly telling me that if we were travelling at 30 miles per hour and so was that red car we would probably be dead. Then he tried to reverse back to pull out at a better angle, so that the owner of the red box wouldn’t have to get mad at us. In doing so he nearly drove straight into the gate of their garden. Oh. Dear. The final attempt was a narrow shave as mere millimetres was the difference between unscathed motor vehicles and dragging the red box with us or snapping off various wing mirrors. I laughed a nervous giggle. 

I got in the car and buckled my seatbelt. 

“How do you work the indicators?” Ed asked as he buckled up. I froze. If he didn’t know how to work indicators, something I’ve learned to do aged 8 just by asking mum, then we didn’t have a chance. I took a deep breath as we drove down the road and out into the traffic. 

The lucky thing is that the route we took didn’t require too many main roads, so we could casually go down the back streets where minimal traffic remained. Ed did however have trouble spotting a motorcyclist as he pulled out onto the first lane and if Jem hadn’t said anything then the biker would most probably have been like a bug on a wind shield (only the wind shield would have smashed and investigations would have been drawn up). I am, of course, slightly exaggerating here, Ed didn’t have the courage to go above 25 miles per hour. Having watched an advert on TV if he accidentally hit a little girl she would have had at least an 80% chance of survival. We pulled up to pick another up. Now there were three people in the car watching his every move. That must have been pressure. Not only that but in that exact moment Ed’s driving instructor drove past, mentoring another student. 

And then we had to go on to the main road. The thing is to get to it there was a traffic light that regulated the flow at a safe and efficient pace. This traffic light, in particular, changes very quickly. Then suddenly his best friends father came driving up behind us. Now four people were watching. The light turned green, Ed stalled, the light turned red. The driver behind waved. At least they didn’t honk the horn. Ed stalled again. 

“This is a particularly bad light.!” Jem reassured quickly as the light turned back to red. 

“I wouldn’t worry, I’ve been sat behind five light changes because I’ve stalled” Jem friend said. “It happens all the time.” And then at the third turn we managed to pull out. But it was a main road, there are traffic lights everywhere. This road is notorious for being a bit manic. At least it was not rush hour. At the second lot of traffic lights Ed stalled five, maybe six, times. Each time the metal contraption of doom was sending us inches closer to an impending fate. We were in the middle of a main road. We could not get out. Finally, finally Ed calmed down, having gotten frustrated at the car’s ill co-operation and pulled out at a small enough, but still too small to make me think I’m safe, especially when we were snail pacing through it at 20 miles per hour. We turned a corner. And we were back in the small streets where I could finally let a breath. Ed pulled up outside the jazzercise venue. 

“Right.” Jem said. “If you want to get out I’ll park the car.” Having witnessed the initial pulling out she probably didn’t want more wing mirrors to be threatened. Ed and I walked home, having bought the ice cream. I don’t think I will be stepping into that car again until his driving is officially deemed safe with a full driver’s license.

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