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Monday, July 31, 2017

Hell Behind The Wheel

Everybody in the world has something that they do well in. 

I mean, just think about it.  Our brains are funny things, and they are wired and connected in such a way that we are naturally talented in so many different things.  Some are very good at art.  Some are great at fixing computers.  Some are even great at playing pickleball.

(Yes.  Pickleball is an actual sport.  Never played it, but it looks cool!  And no, I don't think they use actual pickles to play.)

I will admit that there are a few talents that I am proud to have.  I can spot a spelling error from a mile away.  I can win at almost every game of Super Mario Kart that I play.  And I can probably name every single Big Brother contestant that has ever played the game and in what order they were evicted each season.

(Hey, I never said my talents were USEFUL.  Just that I had them.)

Of course, there are some things that we wish we could do, but for some reason we just never manage to achieve it.  Some people are just naturally horrible at math.  Some people don't know how to play a harpsichord.  Some people don't even know how to program a VCR.

(Which, I suppose is redundant since VCR's aren't even being manufactured, but I digress.)

I suppose some things can be improved upon with practice.  And sometimes people become better at things as they grow older.  However, no matter how hard we try, sometimes there are some things that sometimes you can't do, even though you might really want to.

Such as driving a car, for example.

I'm 36 years old, and I think I can count the number of times I've tried to drive on one hand.  Every single time that I have attempted to get behind the wheel of a car, I just can't bring myself to do it.  And this is despite enrolling in driver's education courses when I was sixteen and was eligible to get my learner's permit. 

I do recall the time around my sixteenth birthday to be filled with loads of excitement.  As my peers blew out sixteen candles on their respective cakes, they were at the DMV the following day to take the driver's test.  To them, getting a driver's license meant absolute freedom and the ability to go wherever they wanted.  Well, provided they had a part-time job to pay for fuel and insurance, that is.

To me, getting a driver's license seemed to be just a way of getting an identification card.  Nothing more, nothing less.  At least, that's how I felt when I was sixteen.

I suppose now that two decades have passed, I can see why having a license is so important.  Without a driver's license, a lot of professional opportunities have closed for good.  I don't have as much option to go anywhere that is a considerable distance away unless I want to pay an Uber driver $300 or more.  And it makes it harder to visit friends and family that live far away.  I'm essentially grounded in so many ways.

But it's not that I haven't tried.  I've had my learner's permit twice now...and yet both times I've let it expire without even trying to get the full license.

My problem isn't that I'm lazy.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm anything but in most things.  My problem isn't that I'm a freeloader.  In many cases, I ask if I can chip in for gas money if I am going a considerable distance away. 

My problem is the crippling anxiety that I face when I get behind the wheel of a car.  Anxiety so great that I have had full-blown panic attacks.  You know, the ones where you break out in a cold sweat, your vision blurs, and you have to breathe into a paper bag?  Yeah...kind of like that.

I don't exactly know how to explain why I get the way I get regarding my driving abilities or lack thereof.  I mean, I've already talked about how driving a car in a video game gives me no trouble at all.  I've also driven the bumper cars at the amusement park with very little difficulty.  And I've even driven a couple of go-karts in my lifetime. 

Of course, in all of those situations, I wasn't exactly in a position to cause much danger.  I mean, on the bumper cars, you're pretty much encouraged to smash your car into other drivers.  But the bumper cars are covered with indestructible foam padding that protect you from injury.  A car is not.

And I think that's where my fear of driving comes into play here.  I don't know if I am necessarily in fear of my own abilities (though always having poor peripheral vision doesn't exactly give me much confidence), or whether I'm afraid of other people's driving style.  It could be a combination of both. 

No, actually, I think it's more of me being afraid of other people.  With the invention of the cell phone, it serves as the ultimate distraction for a driver.  I've heard of too many accidents caused by distracted drivers to strike fear into my heart.  And don't think that this is a new thing either.  Back in '97 when I turned 16, distracted driving was still an issue.  No, we didn't have cell phones in every pocket.  But we did have people chomping down on Big Macs while driving.  We did have people putting on lipstick and mascara while driving.  We had people changing radio stations while driving.  Heck, I recall someone reading a book while driving...ON HIGHWAY 401!!!

I mean, I already have enough anxiety in myself to worry about, let alone being scared of other people.  It's way too much stress for me. 

Therefore, I've made the decision that it is best for myself and for everybody else to not try to get my license.  I have way too much anxiety to make it down the street, and that's just something that I'll have to accept.  I don't even think that there is enough anti-anxiety medication in the world to calm me down enough to even try it.  I've just chalked it up to being one of the things that I just wasn't born to do.

And I get that I'm not alone in this.  There are thousands of people who can't drive for varying reasons, and somehow they manage to accept it and live their lives the way they want to.  I have come to the conclusion that my not being able to drive is something that is a part of me.  And I just have to live with it.

Still...I look at other people who take the skill of driving for granted, and I sometimes feel so envious of them.  How they can do something so flawlessly and I can't.  But then I think that they probably look at me, and they might feel the same way in that I can do something that they can't.  I suppose it's all in the perspective, and how you see yourself.  Sure, not having a license has restricted me from doing some things.  I know that I'll never be a truck driver, a taxi cab operator, or a NASCAR driver.  And that's cool, because I have no desire to be any of those things.

I do wish I lived in a community with better public transit though.  Seriously, there IS life after 7:00pm!

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