Driving

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

The 'S' Factor

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I'VE been laboring in driving school for the past few days that I seriously asked myself if I'm too old to drive or not.

The laboring part comes from the anxiety and fear I feel whenever I get my hands on the wheel.

My hands and feet feel so hard that I felt that they needed to be pressure-cooked to make it pliable.

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I was anxious about going to driving school when last year Ronnie taught me how to drive and I immediately got behind the wheel without instruction.

God, that was the time I was convinced I’ve got angels.

I don’t have to tell you the details -- we were saved.

I have to concentrate behind the wheel because it seems I go crazy and careless with it.

Driving a car in the US especially here in North Carolina is a must, it is not a luxury.

It's a matter of survival and not a status quo.

North Carolina is not like New York or Chicago where the public transport system is great.

Waiting system

Though Charlotte has this Charlotte Area Transport System (CATS) it is not easy to navigate from point A to B.

Plus there are also reported cases of snatching and robbery like what happened to my friend Blessel Arcamo Butler.

Blessel told me her bag got snatched and she was injured.

Because of that incident, she studied and she is now a good driver.

Back home in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, it didn't dawn on me to own a car because I wanted to walk.

In Cagayan de Oro or anywhere in the Philippines, public utility vehicles (PUVs) in all forms is the best way to move around, minus of course their loud stereo units and “waiting system” in which the passenger jeepney won't move out of their designated terminals until every passenger is squeezed inside every possible inch of seating space.

We call that “alas puno” (don't ask me to translate it, suffice it to say it means putting one over another).

Pickpockets or robbers abound in the terminals and you would be wise to keep your eyes and ears open and have everything in check.

I've never learned to drive. My father is a good driver and so are my brothers and my sister Betty Almobro.

Lectures

But I was reminded when she was first learning to drive she would ask people to ride on her brand new Kia SUV and almost everyone in the family would find an excuse to refuse.

When she became a good driver, she didn't invite anyone to ride with her. It's quite funny but true.

Now here at North Carolina, I have to learn how to drive because there are times when Ronnie has a conflict of schedule in his medical appointments and I couldn't attend meetings.

I am tired of asking my friends Jesette Kelly, Julie Armstrong or Doreen Reynolds to drive for me to attend to some commitments.

So I enrolled in one of the driving schools and the first day wasn't a problem.

There were lectures on how to use the wheel, the gas and the brakes.

Turning right, using the mirror, it was okay at first.

Not too late

The second day I was perspiring all over because I couldn't get the push and pull style of the wheel when turning right and left.

Wheew -- that's when I got scared already.

Learning how to steer the wheel became my greatest nightmare along with gently stepping on the gas or brakes.

There were times that I abruptly stepped on the brakes and stopped in the middle of the road.

Oh, I wanted to be sick the following day.

I didn’t want to attend class and eventually I was saved by the snowstorm.

I was just like a kid who wanted to be absent from school when I'm not ready.

But I have been watching You Tube tutorials for first timer drivers and I think it helped a lot.

I've practiced by pretending that the big plate is a wheel by putting some detergent to make my hands glide if I wanted to turn right or left.

When watching TV or working in my computer, I practiced my foot movements and imagined stepping on the gas or the brakes.

It also helped that my teacher Margaret is so good at explaining the movements of the car and in fact changed the push and pull to “1and 2,” “1 and 2.”

It made sense -- now I know what’s going on.

Forgive my ignorance. It's never too late to believe, it is never too late to dream.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 08, 2014.

Lifestyle

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