Friday, June 06, 2008

Deadly Driving.

I've never been a fan of driving. The thought of having to control the knobs, the pedals and the wheel simultaneously while having to check all the mirrors, the sides of the vehicle, oncoming vehicles and pedestrians just gives me the chills. Despite the fact that I can multi-task, I've always thought that this would be the one multiple task I'll never accomplish. Which is why I've always told people that I prefer being driven than drive. Seriously, why bother about the traffic when I can just sit back and enjoy the view? Though I do admit, I sometimes imagine that I could speed like Paul Walker ala Fast and Furious or drift like Lucas Black ala Tokyo Drift after watching their movies - just for the adrenaline rush of course. Then again, occasionally, I do feel responsible for my own that I shouldn't be relying on mom or dad to chauffeur me around to places I wanna go but the feel of guilt alone isn't enough to drive me to, well, drive. Plus, I wasn't one who's affected by peer pressure.

Nevertheless, dad made me do it given that I'm almost over a year late from the legal age of driving in this country. If what I just mentioned wasn't clear indication, you can bet that I wasn't at all keen about getting my driver's license, knowing the full responsibility lying ahead - for starters, mom and dad are going to expect me run errands or pick/send people/things. Not to mention, the dangers of driving - verging on paranoia here but what other reasons could I give to stall? Anyway, late April, dad signed me up with a driving agent (one which previously got jie her license) given that I'm way past my legal age and the simple fact that I have some free time in my hands to kill since I have no computer to hog on. I wouldn't doubt that it has something to do with growing-up-and-being-a-man thing too. So, in order for the entire process to take place - the numerous listening courses and theory and practical examinations - dad spent approximately RM700 and at the end of the day, I'm still baffled about why people would actually want this.

Right after that, I've been making frequent back and forth trips to the driving agent's for listening courses on road safety, road law and generally, about the mechanism of cars. Naturally after those painstakingly and boring long hours of listening about Malaysian road rules, I had a simple computerised law test to pass to get a learner's license so that I can be behind the wheel for the practical part of the learning. After passing the law test, a driving instructor (mine was a friendly Malay chap whom I address as cikgu) was then appointed for me to have some hands on action. It was early May when I started driving in the training circuit, going up and down a training hill, parking and doing 3-point-turns while the instructor sits beside me and has his foot ready on the trainer's emergency brake. In this country, I'm supposed to have a practical training of an accumulated 8 hours before I could actually take a driving test with a government official. In reality, the process is much more complicated than what I've just placed, plenty of time wasting, unnecessary procedures and waiting involved but it doesn't make much of a difference now.

For my part, I did a 2hours session for 4 times, spread across the month of May before I took the test at the 29th of May, which is considered pretty fast by my standards considering I passed all of it in one attempt. Yeah, I didn't drag on, re-sitting tests. To be honest, I didn't believe I could even do it. Ask mom and dad and they'll tell you how silly and nervous I got prior to each test I had to take. My palms were sweaty, my heartbeat was up a notch and I began to gag while waiting in line for my turn to take the real test. I truly didn't think I could pull through any of it but I did and now, I've already gotten my probationary driver's license
(and also a humongous letter 'P' stuck onto the rear window and the windscreen of dad's car) which I have to drive around with for 2years before I could get my permanent one. Still not thrilled. I mean, yeah, it's cool that I can drive and all but I don't feel any different. I honestly think that I shouldn't even be granted my license in the first place seeing how haphazardly I control the wheel. You know what I mean? I don't possess the urge to grab the car keys and speed off to somewhere. I don't feel any older or macho for that matter. I'm pretty much still the same.


Failure to launch? I'm beginning to freak out. I know that getting their driver's license seems so ordinary for most people out there (namely, peers) and it appears like I'm making a big fuss out of it here. Well, I'm not, at least not even trying to. It's probably because I still don't believe that I can drive.
Not believing in myself is one thing mom could never live with but to not have the skills to drive is another. Yes, I know how to work the clutch and the gear and the wheel but I don't think I could survive in the real road out there, apart from the road route we were taught to drive on during driver's ed. I still find the flashing lights and zooming vehicles a little too much to handle. Sure, I passed driver's test and that's gotta count for something but if you were me, you'd know that the driving test was almost bogus. As long as you get past the hill, park nicely and do a 3-point-turn successfully, you're done and as long as you go the route you've been trained on without crashing into another vehicle, you're done. I mean c'mon, my tester was half asleep when I drove him around the route we were trained on.

Still think that I can drive? Dad for one, could testify that I've got one too many almost-run-over-someone moments during one of the few times he gave me extra lessons on driving. It's like this with dad: I don't care if you've passed your driving test, you're not getting the car unless and until I say you're ready. Of course, dad is an excellent driver and I've always looked up to his driving skills and if he says so, there ain't no arguing. Truly, dad not only has the experience, but the passion to pass them down, seen here with jie. Where'd you think jie got her skills from? With him, he really opens my eyes and shows me my flaws in driving. There's no way I could argue with the things he say with the meagre time I've got at driver's ed. It's been 2days since dad has allowed me behind wheel and for that course of time, I discovered that I have zero estimation, I handle the steering wheel like a prick and that I'm still not used to the pedals. Thank God dad's letting me drive his auto instead of a manual. Tried that with jie's car and oh my, what trouble I got myself into even though the only cars they provide at the driving school are manuals. See, the whole process was barely helpful in real driving.

Well, slightly more than a month has passed since that dreadful day I had to sign myself up for driving and it seems so long ago that I was fretting over the Malaysian way of acquiring a driver's license. Just for the record, I'm still not excited about getting my license even more now with the recent petrol hike in the country. Great timing to start driving isn't it? But now that I can legally drive and I have dad to help me with my confidence in driving, I can only hope that I could get better in time. For the time being, other Penang drivers should watch out for another driver from hell (oh I'm bad!) - ultimately, pedestrians and aunties on bicycles or hot mamas with baby strollers, try your best to stay away from me. Oh, and also, I think other drivers should give drivers with "P" stickers a break and not honk that much. You'll never know how many people who are like me out there and being a little patient once in a while wouldn't kill. In other words, be nice to probationary drivers. After all, we are on probation. Either way, let's just hope I become a law-abiding driver and that no lives will be harmed in the process - cause heaven knows the roads do not need another reckless-driver!

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