Thursday, March 27, 2008

How's my Driving?

In case you've been wondering, I've driven three times since passing my test last November, all three times on the motorway. And I'm really bad, my level has deteriorated back to beginner. Possibly worse. I believe Mr Zeus's exact words were "So bad you're a liability."

There are a number of factors getting in my way.

First, I have had no time to practice in the day and Mr Zeus doesn't feel comfortable letting me drive at night.

Second, whenever some free time comes up, the car gets occupied. Twice now something has gone wrong with someone's car and ours has stepped in to help, which is totally fair enough, but it feels like the universe is trying to tell me something.

Third, everything I learnt was in the UK, on the other side of the road and where other drivers make a few allowances for other drivers. In Greece, forget it. I'm not saying I expect the traffic to part before me like the red sea, but here is an example: on the weekend when I was driving on the motorway a car in front began to drift along into my lane. I dropped back, at which the car then moved back into its own lane. As I built my speed back up it again moved across trying to get into my lane, so I panicked and floored it, trying to get away. Result: Mr Zeus thinks I drive like a drunk, my nerves were shred and confidence at an extreme low.

It leads to comedy-like scenes of the two of us bickering as my stress levels build.

Him: "After we pass the BMW, change lanes."

Me: "When? What?"

Him: "After the BMW... change.. lanes."

Me: "But which one is the BMW! WHY CAN"T YOU JUST SAY AFTER THE BLUE CAR!!!"

Him: "You're slowing down... when you change lanes you're supposed to go faster."


My most dangerous mistake is when he says to turn left and I merrily do... only I turn left as if I were in the UK and therefore I turn immediately left into oncoming traffic. Bad.

Fourth, all the other cars I learnt in were fairly new with power steering. The one in Athens is a reliable but relatively old Suzuki Swift. I don't know how much I can blame on that... but what the heck I will anyway.

It's driving (pun!) me insane, because at the point where I passed my test I was a good driver. Both my instructors told me I was a natural at driving and safe on the roads.

When I sit on the bus or metro and think of all the time and money I invested in trying to pass my driving test, it makes me feel really frustrated. The licence was supposed to have liberated me, and it hasn't.


Words of advice would be massively appreciated. As you can tell, it's a complaining sort of day for me today.


deviousdiva said...

Words of advice ? Not from me.

I never learned to drive and probably never will learn. I've always lived in big cities and have never had the need. It would be great to be able to take a road trip but whenever I've gone with friends by car, we all end up being so stressed that it's hard to enjoy the journey. It usually takes a day or too to get over the return trip.

I think you are incredibly brave to even attempt to drive in Greece. I have an English friend (who is the best driver I have ever known) and she ages about 2 years every time she pops over to see me by car.

The comedy conversation is hilarious. I'd be exactly the same. When the kid goes "did you see that merc ?"(or bmv or vw bla bla bla) in that hushed tone of awe that boys get, I get so... uninterested because I just don't see the difference between one car and another. And I just don't care. It's a car and its blue or red or whatever and it's about to run me down or it's parked on the pavement. Or it's yellow so it's a taxi that's usually not going where I want to go (!) or it's full. And there my interest in cars ends.

I think you have to be a Greek driver if you want to get into driving in Greece. And that's just dangerous. I worry about my friend every time she gets into her car day or night. She's already seen far to many accidents up close.

Take care and if you don't feel comfortable or safe, don't drive.

You are a liberated women without the car, so don't be too down on yourself.

This turned into a bit of a rant. Sorry. The driving here brings out the worst in me.

itelli said...

Practice makes better.

And forget about the UK.

Hope said...

Hehe! Thanks so much for this. Your complaining made me laugh. Hard. :)

I also learned to drive in England so I know what you mean. The only thing I can say is practice really does make perfect. (Or something like it at the very least!)

I remember one of the first times I went out on my own, I had to cross over two lanes of heavy traffic. At a stop street. With cars behind me hooooooooting.

Oh my gee. Bollybutton, I literally closed my eyes and said "Well, its now or never."

Probably not the safest thing to do, but I made it. :)

bollybutton said...

Oh DD don't I know it. The number of times Mr Zeus has made me watch a car advert and asked me what I thought and I've said "It's.... a black car...??" Wrong answer.

You know Athens transport is pretty good so maybe having the licence is good in a if-I-had-to-save-my-life-and-escape-captors-I-could-drive-away sort of way.

itelli, short but sound advice. I think I might have to unlearn all my UK training and start again.

Hope, your name says it all. You're one brave chick!

Drivetime Yogagal said...

I remember struggling with the opposite problem after I'd bought an old van in London and proceeded to drive all over Europe. That's after learning to drive in Southern California traffic. Luckily, no accidents just dented ego. But now as a commuting Yoga teacher, I calm myself with conscious deep, slow breathing. It triggers your body's natural relaxation response. Just tell your back seat drivers to chill while you practice a little Drivetime Yoga! Good luck. It sounds like you have an adventurers heart. The Drivetime Yogagal,

Anonymous said...

I'm a driver and I would say that I prefer driving here in Greece than in the UK (I've driven there on a few occaisions). The main reason being, here in Greece it's not taken as serious. Drivers are just noisy... they beep (sometimes it's essential) and shout and swear but it's all 'in the moment'and is easily forgotten.

In the UK, they are far too rigid when they drive. I mean they bear grudges and if you dare to cut in front of someone, you can expect then to get out of their car and wrap something around your neck.

Ultimately, you need to stop listening to the advice of passengers, especially Mr Z as he is a driver right and they make the worst passengers. Change lanes when you want to change lane, go the speed you want to go and do your own thing.

Practise does in fact make perfect.

And as a side note, these 'best drivers' people have ever known don't really count because it's all very well being a great driver with your driving style and habits that fit in perfectly in quaint English villages but if you genuinly experience trauma everytime you get into your car in Greece and you find yourself up close and personal with near accidents then it's time to accept that you're not as good as you thought you were (yup Diva... that's aimed at people like your friend!!!!!!!!!)

BollyButton, when you learn to drive a car. The instructors teach you how to be perfect to pass the examination. The real test is when you've passed and you have to learn by your own mistakes. Any driver will tell you that... and I think if you really as a far out as Mr Z seems to think then you'll be fine!!! LOL

bollybutton said...

ED you're right. Mr Zeus told me exactly that and said I would never get any better if I didn't swallow my pride and admit that I am not safe on Greek roads.

When I get back to Athens I think it'll be better if I book a professional for a few hours each week. An hour or so every few weeks is really not going to get me anywhere.

Διαγόρας said...

Well, all that was to be said has already been said, (namely, practice, and without Mr. Zeus,) so I do not have anything to add, other than a funny little video, to cheer you up: