Monday, 26 September 2011

Motown no more

This morning I drank five cups of coffee and sold my baby.

By baby, I mean car.

And I feel fine.

I was licensed at 15. In my homeland there are more cacti than people, and with no public transport to speak of you would literally starve without a car.

My long-suffering family taught me to drive in a church parking lot. Being a hypersensitive type from birth, I remember finding the sensation of creeping along at one mile an hour in a huge steel death-trap to be mortifying.

Mr M. didn't help. The man had been teaching drivers' ed. for approximately two hundred years by the time I joined his class. He liked to show footage of lungs and spleens splayed on the pavement, rewinding to watch his favourite bits over again.

But I swallowed my nerves and flew the parking lot. I drove to high school and to assorted teenager mischief venues. I saw scary things out on the open road, had a wreck of my own, but kept my spleen.

I hit 18 and drove out to Los Angeles, a thousand miles. I drove over mountains and alongside the Pacific; through weird old desert towns that time forgot, and past crap gambling towns that time really should write off.

Wheels became freedom and the world opening up. I almost forgot about Mr M. and spleens.

Are we there yet?
A decade later I had to start from scratch in the UK, land of the world's most evil driving exam. After many cups of coffee and lots of complaining, I passed. This left me at the mercy of that great parental aggravation device: car seats.

There are more speed cameras on British roads than sheep and people combined.* There are at least three governmental agencies tasked with regulating the roads. Yet there remain more pot holes on these roads than specks of sand on a beach or stars in the night sky. As somebody who owned the 'hazard perception' part of the UK driving exam, I feel entitled to point this out.

Tarmac neglect aside, it was a car seat incident involving projectile vomit finally convinced me that no amount of coffee will make me enjoy WTF roundabouts. Maximizing coffee consumption will merely increase the need for pit stops.

And so it is with greatest affection for my family that I must confess: I still love route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway, but I have given up the driving habit for now. It was that or jam.

But thanks for those days in the church parking lot. For thrusting me from the nest and teaching me to fly on properly balanced and rotated tires. For making me steer straight and reminding me to always leave enough petrol in the tank to fly home.

Everything returns to the nest in the end.

*This might be a slight exaggeration. But only very slight.


  1. Good for you! I dream of living somewhere I could get by without a car and the assorted expenses involved.

  2. Move to London! Not only can you do without a car here, you can also do without a proper home...which is to say that few mortals can actually afford one ;)