The Unbearable Weight of Not Driving

When the light turns green

 

Street parking

Among all the things that make me feel not myself, this driving business is my current #1.        

Boy, people are good at it!

 

The rental car has been sitting in the basement for a month. It is a mid-size car. This posting is all about why a mid-size, even a smaller one won’t help.        

The streets here are narrow. It is not unusual if you see Motorcyclist’s  thigh touch your car at stop signs. When the light turns green, anyone next to you can turn left or right. No screaming or cussing. Everyone eventually moves on.         

But I confess, I have not driven once, I chickened out every time.        

For the entire month, I imagined driving while sitting in the bus, taxi, and my friends’ cars. I think I can manage heroic maneuver. After all, people here are very nice and do not have that killer mindset some city drivers of you-know-where do. But the problem is that I will have to keep driving, because I do not have the nerve to park.         

Where I came from, I got 2 car spaces ahead of me and behind me at a minimum. I could go back and forth a couple of times, I could take my time getting in the spot. If there were no 2-car spaces, I could go somewhere else, or, I’d pay to park in a nice indoor lot.         

Spot, stop, back wheels in, front wheels in. Feel lucky about finding a spot.

 

I didn’t do well with parallel parking during my road test 20 years ago. The examiner from the DMV helped me turn the steering wheel. Despite one tire on the curb, he saw the streak on the steering wheel made by my wet palm, smiled and let me pass. If I were not Chinese, I would have kissed him. Now what? I think of him everyday. His generosity ruined my life in Taipei.        

I walk, I take bus and taxi. I tell myself, I need to check out the neighborhood, I have time, and taxis are cheap.        

I bite my lips watching my husband back into a parking space only inches bigger than the car itself in the basement of Carrefour.         

But it is not that I have not tried to be brave.        

The space is not much bigger than the car

I made up my mind to drive at 10 a.m. Uhm, no, housewives are on the road. There are so many of them, it seems.        

Fold the mirrors. Everyone does that for a reason.

 

I made up my mind to drive at 2 p.m. Uhm, no, elementary kids get out at 2:30. At 3:30 p.m.? Uhm, no, middle schoolers are let out then. At 4:30 p.m. maybe? No, that’s when people get off work.         

I made up my mind to drive on Sunday morning. Uhm, no, more people might be on the road than at church or temples.        

I made up my mind to drive when it rained. Uhm, no, I won’t be able to see well.        

Yesterday, I made up my mind to drive, because the sun and the moon, and all the stars were lined up. Uhm (blush), I didn’t. I do not yet have a cell phone. I won’t be able to call for help, if I crashed, and I don’t know where the hospital is, and what to do if I did end up there. What about my kids, they would be home without me… Oh boy, no, not today!        

Tomorrow I will drive.        

Didn’t I swear many yesterdays ago?        

Creative parking

The truth is that the DMV guy should have failed me. I would have been perfect by now at parallel parking. It is all his fault!        

    • Barbara
    • September 23rd, 2010

    You are now living in a major city without the day-to-day necessity to drive. Just let go of the driving thing. When you come back home you will be happy to park in the lot at Target.

    • Susan Markowitz
    • September 24th, 2010

    You shouldn’t feel bad about not driving, Xin. I have been driving since age 16, and I know how to parallel park but I would be nervous about trying to drive and park where you are. How do the cars get out of such tight parking spaces????

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