A friend of mine just got her driver’s license yesterday. It’s totally awesome and I’m real happy for her. I have to say, though, getting your driver’s license is a terrible pain in the ass. I got it on my fourth try. I know, I know. Shame on me. Tsk tsk. Boohoo.
The rule here is that you take 40 classes, give your road test, and if you fail, you have to take 8 more classes. And that happened to me 3 times. And each of those 3 times, I came out of the Driving School swearing my way to glory. Yes, I cried. It was really sad. Everyone around me was getting their license on their first try. But woe is me. And me is woe. Whatever that means. Each of those 3 times I failed, I called everyone on the road a “bitch”, the examiner “unfair” and the system “corrupt”. I felt bad about the money I was spending (it was 60 AED per class when I joined, which was hiked up to 75 AED later). No one likes failure. One time after failing the test, I opened up this book of collected poems by Thomas Hardy and it was just perfect for the whole situation:
IF but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”
Then would I bear, and clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased, too, that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
–Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan….
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.
Now wasn’t that a good piece?
Anyway, the blessed fourth road test came along. With prayers, and the Bhagavad Gita, and talking to a picture of Lord Chaitanya, and a spoon of sugar and curd, and COMPLETE DETACHMENT and no concern whatsoever for my license, I passed. Reliving that day is just so awesome. The fact that that day happened makes all the other failures… well, still hurt, but it’s relatively easier to think about. Sigh, those days of failure… I would hang my head in shame if someone from my crowd was driving already and I had to ask them to drive me around. It was sad. It’s still kind of hard to drive when someone better than me is like, “watching”, y’know? It’s really intimidating. I’m getting better at handling this intimidation as compared to before but it’s still there. It’s pathetic really. I’m still not very good at parking! I remember thinking during my Days of Failure that if I just got my license, I would spend time practicing parking later. I have practiced, but I still make mistakes. The weird thing is that for some time I became a pro at parallel parking. And then, that pro-skill was just sucked right out of me. I really don’t know how. But I just can’t get the parallel parking done right anymore! And yes, being the dork that I am, I have checked out video tutorials online, and yes, they have helped very very much. But the day I got my license, I was like OOOOOO WEE Wilmer Valderrama style! I couldn’t stop staring at it for the longest time. It’s a gold colored card and it’s WAY better than a credit card, methinks! Oh yeah! I could legally put my hands on the wheel and just blaze! And with just ONE hand on the wheel, too! And I can cross my arms while turned the wheel! That was against the rules! Ooh, scandalous! But yeah, sadly, I have also had many near-accidents. I have also slightly bumped a wall, scraped along a footpath a few times, driven ON a footpath and almost run over a lady (in my defense, she was SO not in front of the car). Amazingly, I always manage to stop for cats to cross. Even birds, for that matter. I have one question though. Why don’t birds freakin’ FLY when they want to get to the other side? I mean, come on. Why did the bird cross the road? Because it didn’t want to fly even though it could, unlike chickens. Not cool, dude. No offense to birdies though. I love ’em birdies. But honestly, it would be less difficult for me if they just flew to the other side instead of crossing. Maybe they don’t know that the road rules don’t really apply to them. Anyhow, yes, I’ve almost hit other cars. Thank God I haven’t been driving alone a lot as yet. Honestly, my faithful passengers, brave passengers, who have put their lives in danger by sitting with me, have called out to me when there is potential for an accident. Hah, that’s a funny sentence. Like a paradox. Potential for an accident. Either way, I feel so guilty afterward, you know? Like they say that before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I haven’t “almost died” but I have been in situations on the road where I was close to almost dying if you know what I mean. At those moments, I just freeze. And I have absolutely no idea what to do and then after it’s over, I quiver. And I think what a close call it was. And then it’s not so much like scenes from my life flash before my very eyes but the horror of what could have happened in the hit that I just missed won’t leave me alone. And it’s so scary and it makes me want to cry. It’s like, you know, when shit happens, everyone in the car is like, “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING?! WATCH THE ROAD!” And I’m like, “Jeez, bud, I KNOW what I’m doing and I KNOW how to drive, so take it easy!” And in my head, I’m like, “OMG, I almost died, I almost died, I almost died, I almost died and took everyone down with me, and I almost killed someone’s family, and I almost killed someone’s child, I almost killed my parents’ daughter, I almost died.” I’ve got my Cool Face on most times though, so I can escape with those thoughts unnoticed. But it’s scary to drive, sometimes. Most times, the feeling is awesome. It feels great to be independent like that. I really want to buy my own car though. Wish I could find some good temp jobs and saving up some money to buy me a machine that will do all the walking for me. Or rolling if you catch my drift.