Freedom to be able to go to the corner store and buy ice cream at two o’clock in the morning without having to wake up my parents.
Freedom to go to Tim Horton’s whenever I feel like an ice cap (yes, even in winter).
Freedom to go out with friends and not have to carpool in somebody’s minivan.
Ah, freedom– so close. Only one little road test away.
Getting a driver’s licence is one of the many checkpoints that lay between childhood and the adult world. When I got my learner’s licence, I was determined to enter the adult world of driving as quickly as possible.
Alas, my journey was not so speedy.
It turns out that the brake pedal and the gas pedal are right next to one another, and that they are remarkably easy to get mixed up.
Steering is also very difficult when the nearest thing I’ve ever done to driving is riding horses. Horses can steer themselves and won’t go careening onto the edge of the road out on Pitt Polder. Needless to say my mother grabbed the wheel and saved us both from the ditch.
There are many other reasons that I’m not a fantastic driver. The most apparent reason is that sometimes I get exceedingly nervous.
Why? I’m not sure.
I take lessons. I’ve studied the driving book I got from my instructor. Since the infamous ‘Polder Incident,’ I’ve learned better steering and the difference between the brake and the gas pedal (one is skinnier than the other, but please don’t put me on the spot and ask which one it is).
Still, I am sometimes petrified when I sit myself down in the driver’s seat and buckle up. I believe it has something to do with my wide repertoire of ‘Driving Horror Stories.’
Whenever I drive, in the back of my mind I’m replaying different stories about insane driving situations told to me by friends and family. Sometimes I think of times where I’ve been in strange or surreal driving scenarios with my family. The most recent chapter in my book of driving misadventures took place in New Westminster.
Last weekend, I was picking up my grad dress from a store in the bridal district. It was early morning, but finding parking was still insane because there were people setting up for the Santa Claus parade.
The only parking space we could find was the Front Street parkade.
After I’d picked up my dress, my mother and I went back to the parkade, only to find that all of the exits had been blocked for the Santa Claus parade. We drove to all the exits and all of them were blocked by orange and white striped barriers.
Finally, we drove out an entrance and I had to jump out of the car in the pouring rain and push aside a barrier so we could get our truck out.
We thought that the ‘Great Escape’ was over when we turned out of the parkade and onto a side street, but the bottom of it was blocked. The problem was that this wasn’t a barrier that I could move aside and then replace. This time, our exit was blocked by a giant squad car.
I hopped back out of the car, now thoroughly soaked, and directed the truck between the squad car and a brick wall. The space was not even wide enough for me to lay down across, and I’m barely 5’7.”
Still, the truck managed to squeeze through and we made our escape.
It’s the insane incidents like this that like to steal my confidence away whenever I get behind the wheel. However, I think that some driving horror stories can be flipped around to become more stories of adventure.
Escaping a New Westminster parkade in the pouring rain? Sounds like the ‘Great Escape’ meets the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Everything comes back to the freedom, the independence that comes with being able to drive. I’m taking my ‘N’ test in the new year, and I’m more than ready to go on my own adventures.
What kind of an adventurer would I be if I let a little parkade drama dissuade me?
When that test date comes up, I’ll do up my seatbelt and I’ll be more than prepared – I’ll be excited.
Marlowe Evans is a
senior student at Thomas Haney and head delegate of the Model UN Delegation who writes about youth issues.