I hate driving. Really, really hate it. Always have done. People used to say to me ‘it’ll get easier, you’ll get used to it, soon it’ll be second nature’…
When is soon, please? Because I passed my test 17 years ago now. And if I hadn’t had to learn to drive so that I could go for promotion I wouldn’t have bothered. I got the promotion – and with it a car – and then promptly breathed a massive sigh of relief as I was given the task of looking after London based ad agencies which meant – wahey – I could use the Tube for work, while the car was wheeled out at weekends so the Husband (the Boyfriend then) could drive me places. Which worked perfectly well for me, thank you very much.
Since then I have become adept at not driving places. I walk, bus or train whenever I can (it takes me 50 mins to walk to work, I get soaking wet nearly every day because this is Wales, and STILL I prefer that to driving). For social occasions I’m the first to chip in with offers of petrol and beer money in exchange for lifts; I think people think I am lazy but I don’t care because that’s easier than admitting how terrified I am of being behind the wheel.
I am horribly and hyper aware of the fact that half a ton of metal plus engine equals a very dangerous combination and it doesn’t take much to go wrong for things to get catastrophic. And I am absolutely terrified that I will do something wrong, make a silly mistake, take my eyes of the road for one second, and cause that catastrophe. I can feel the adrenaline even as I write this, a horrible, panicking, thumping feeling.
If I’m driving a familiar route, I can just about stay on top of this. However if I am driving somewhere unfamiliar then as well as the fear of killing someone, I end up panicking that I’ll get lost on top of everything else, and it’s a pretty fair bet that getting lost is exactly what I will do. Like so many things requiring brainpower, this has got worse since having kids – it doesn’t matter how much I study the map and write out the directions and memorise the route, I just cannot keep the information in my head. It’s gone the minute, nay the SECOND I turn the ignition key. I kid you not.
For the last few years this whole driving thing has been manageable. I can’t avoid the car altogether but the journeys I do are mostly short and familiar – the swimming pool, my Mum and Dad’s, my inlaws, and once a year or so a BIG drive when my uni chums and I get together with all our kids for a weekend. Which I grit my teeth and gird my loins to do, because seeing old friends is good for the soul. I dread it for weeks, and it’s always disastrous – last year I turned a 3.5 hour journey into a 5 hour journey – both bloody ways.
I kind of need to get this sorted now. For a start, I have a job which requires me to drive to random places and for another start, I am just fed up of being so incompetent in an area of life that everyone else seems to manage without any problem at all. I’ve invested in a satnav, which does help the getting lost bit, though on the flip side it gives me something else to panic about – I can now add ‘being distracted by the flipping TomTom’ to the list of things that I could do which might end up killing someone.
But I do want to get this nailed. So – any suggestions wonderful readers? Or am I stuck with this for life?