I don’t often surprise people.
This is because I’m either so boringly predictable, nothing I do is remotely unusual, or else, I’m so ridiculously peculiar that everything I do is surprising, ergo nothing is.
Whichever way round, as I said, I don’t often surprise people.
Until I say this: ‘I can’t drive.’
Such a small sentence; such big reactions.
Let it be known that this admission has (and continues to) caused me more grief than really any other admission I have made in my life. And it’s ridiculous. Not that I can’t drive but that so many people care that I can’t drive. I simply don’t understand and in all honesty, I find it seriously baffling.
It doesn’t bother me that I’m without a licence, and when I’m halving petrol with someone kindly driving me somewhere they were heading to anyway, I can’t imagine why it would bother them. But somehow it does. And to be honest, it’s bloody irritating.
‘What?’ they splutter in my face, ‘YOU can’t drive?!’
I stare at them vacantly, then churlishly say: ‘Sorry, was I talking in Mandarin again? I said ‘I CAN’T DRIVE.’ Is that any clearer?’
It’s the ‘YOU’ bit that really annoys me. ‘YOU can’t drive.’ So accusatory. For what are they really saying? That I look like a trucker whose job it is to steer vehicles? That I’m a stupid idiot for not forking out £400 in lessons and tests when I was 17, for a bit of paper that in over ten years the not having of which, has had precisely zero impact on my life – except it hasn’t ruined it. Imagine never being the ‘designated driver’. Imagine…
These fully-licenced car bores then really test my patience further, going on and on and on about it - berating me for my laziness, my incompetence, my wanton ignorance. ‘How do I get around?’ they ask, mystified, momentarily forgetting all other forms of transport I could take for which I am not personally required to pilot – trains, planes, buses.
‘So what?’ I say, defensively. ‘It’s not as if I’ve announced I work in magazines but have yet to master the skills of reading and writing. Or that, in over 25 years of life, I am still unable to turn on the toaster.’
Not wanting to boast but there are plenty of other skills I have which many, otherwise intelligent people, lack. Like map reading. Surprising for a girl, I know, but I have an excellent sense of direction and am highly skilled at reading maps. Do I scold others for not meeting my high levels of Ordnance Survey know-how? No! Well… that is, until I’m in a car with one of them, wasting time as a result of their dithering. And then I snatch the map. And then I take over, laughing in their face as I point out the A-Z was upside down and, in fact, we’re in France so their silly map is redundant anyway.
‘When are you going to learn?’ people ask worryingly, as if I’ve just announced I’m about to perform heart surgery based on the knowledge I acquired from a recent episode of Casualty.
‘When I feel like it.’
This isn’t good enough. So I am then forced to launch into the uber dull, well-rehearsed anti-licence line of defence.
If you’ve not been subjected to it, it includes:
1.) The very obvious fact that learning, driving and owning a car is expensive.
2.) How, although I’ve not taken formal lessons, I can actually operate an automobile and drive one competently in the case of an emergency.
3.) How, even if I did learn tomorrow, it would be a waste of time. I’ll not own a car for years and when I do, I’ll clearly be too nervous to drive it and would want to take the test again anyway. Driving is about confidence, hence why most girls are crap at it (such cans of worms I open…)
I’ve said all these things time and time again and I’m sick of repeating myself. It shouldn’t matter to anyone but me whether I can drive or not, and until someone decides to buy me lessons, a car and a life’s worth of petrol, I am simply not going to bother.
‘What? YOU can’t drive?!’
‘No, dear friend, I cannot. But you see, some people – like you – were born to drive…
….whereas others, were born to be driven.’ *fiddles with smartphone (legal), swigs from bottle of wine (legal), and passes out in the passenger’s seat (luxuriously legal)*
By Beenie Langley