Driving – have you ever really thought about it, or is it one of those things you just take for granted? Let’s look at this – human is born, learns to crawl, talk, walk (in no particular order), and a host of other things. We all go through different phases of life, and eventually the driving phase comes in. It’s crazy to think that one day, you’ll look at some four-wheeled contraption (called a car) and be all ‘oh yeah, I definitely want to get into that and get it moving.’
High School – Four Wheeled Segregation
I remember how in high school we were all living our normal lives, sitting together at lunch and being generally carefree. We’d use the bus, as public transport was the way back then. Eventually some started standing out from the crowd, because they had a car. I remember in grade 10 we had some people come in and we did a driving test (online) in preparation for getting our Learners’ Permit.
It was a short quiz and those who passed would be able to move to the next level. I was one of them who passed. I think I went to the Driving Licence centre like once and I don’t know what happened after that. I guess I was too engrossed in other things, and driving really wasn’t my priority. For one, the process of learning to drive was expensive, not to talk of actually getting your permit and licence! Then a car – where on Earth would I get a car from?
Driving in Nigeria
Recently, I’ve been having quite a few challenges relating to this specific area, learning to drive! Let alone learning to drive in Nigeria. It all started when I saw a blue car parked in my backyard. It was a pretty, compact car, the type you’d imagine the typical 20-year-old-just-starting-out driving, perhaps with a bunch of takeaway wrappers and packs (in my case, probably roasted corn remains) in the back seat, combined with textbooks. Perhaps with a bunch of girlfriends all laughing and loud ‘trendy’ music blaring away. The second suggestion isn’t really me though, I don’t keep company that often.
I thought it was just another car my parents would be driving, until my mother dropped the bombshell that I needed to learn how to drive. I felt like disappearing. I think I even had heart palpitations. Me? In a car? Me? On the road? How possible?!
My First Driving Lesson
To confirm my horror, I was later taken out by one of my scheming parents to kickstart the learning process. I was dragged out (okay not really but I’m the narrator here) and strapped into the front seat. We, with my siblings in the back seat, then roamed about my neighbourhood, looking for a decent field.
Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the driver’s seat. I don’t think anything has ever felt so surreal. I was instructed on how to start the car, taken through the whole ‘clutch, brake, accelerator’ gist and then I was to start driving the car. It was horrifying at first and I’ve never been so tensed before but I slightly loosened up after like 20 minutes. It was cool to drive around in circles on the field, even if I stalled the car a few times (hey, It was my first time in my life), and we eventually went home.
I dreaded having to do it again, but to my distress, the opportunity arrived once again. It didn’t just arrive as a one day thing, I was going to have to take up 2 weeks of driving lessons – 4 hours on weekends, 1 hour theory on Friday. I’ll cut the story short by saying each of those hours were torture! I was so petrified, and the pressure wasn’t helping matters at all. I finished and haven’t driven ever since, and still haven’t gotten my permit yet.
Though my family members roast me for my lack of driving skills, the jabs don’t get to me as much, because I know deep within that I’m not ready. Why am I not ready? Well…
Confession #1: I’m Afraid of Driving, and Driving in Nigeria
I think it would be utterly pretentious for me to make a list of reasons why I don’t think I’m ready for the road without putting this first. One thing I always play in my head is a situation where I stop at a red light. The light turns green, and all of a sudden I can’t start up the car and everyone is honking at me and insulting me. I keep fearing I’ll stall the car in the middle of the road – a highway for example.
I know tons of people have road rage – my mother is one of them, but she does more of shouting. In fact, the adults around me aren’t really good examples. I remember recently I was in a car with my parents, siblings, grandparents and aunt, and when another driver made some mistake the whole car would go up in an uproar. Scary stuff – and I know they won’t be understanding. Screw you and your L-plates. These thoughts, plus the fact I’ve been in a car accident before, scare me. Driving is responsibility, and it’s not just something you do recklessly – you could put the lives of other individuals at risks when you’re not careful – SOMEONE COULD DIE!
Confession #2: Learning to Drive Takes Time
The lessons were for 2 weeks, though I didn’t really do them as I should have. What would’ve been better was 1 hour each day of the week as opposed to weekends, but I hated it so much I didn’t want to. When I think of how I would drive up and down a street with 2 men directing me, do the whole turning and trafficating thing, It’s just not enough.
I feel driving should be taught in a host of situations – quiet street, busy street, highway, inside town, outskirts of town, muddy road, dry road, wet road, night, day, storm & sunshine .. heck, mountain and volcano if one must! I can’t just drive in a particular setting and call myself a driver.
Though I didn’t get any driving done in Australia, I think their method is better. Learning to drive there is quite rigorous and you require a certain amount of hours of driving to progress to different levels. There’s the L’s and P’s, and there are some strict rules. How can I be thrust into my school route without adequate preparation, and most of all, unaccompanied?
Anyway, while some may be judging me low-key and thinking ‘its such a waste you messed up a perfect opportunity’ (the car is now gone) nothing can make me drive until I am truly ready to hit the streets. Until then, I’ll stick to dodging traffic while sitting pretty in the back of a motorcycle (okada) or keke napep (tuk-tuk, tricycle) and eating roast corn. Adios!
Are you currently driving or using public transport? Ever had a driving lesson? Do you have a fear of the road like I do? Do share your thoughts! I think this is one of the realest posts I’ve written in 2018, and it feels so good.