Mar 30, 2008

Filipina in the US: You drive?

circa 2006

Back in my hometown, I drove a motorbike. I have to admit I wasn't the best bike rider out there. Nevertheless, I could pretty much get around town without killing anyone. Driving in Argao is pure pleasure when its not too hot and I'm not running errands. I thought I was pretty cool.

The first time I drove a car in Cebu, I caused no accidents for exactly 9 blocks then I promptly drove the thing over the Cozy Corner's curb. Good thing the rental car was covered by insurance. It wasn't the happiest day of my life.

Two weeks after I got here, I thought I was good. I can keep the car in the right lane, as long as I stay at 2mph. Darren kept pushing me to drive a little bit faster. Anything over 10mph was too hard.

Eventually, I started loving speed. Darren's words became: slow down, SLOW DOWN, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, SLOW DOWN!!! or STOP, PLEASE STOP!!! All this while he slams on his imaginary brakes and clings to the handle over the passenger side door, now known to me as the "oh sh*t" handle. Back then I was limited to driving on the roads of a deserted IT park close to our house.

When it was obvious that a husband teaching his wife how to drive is bad for marriage, we decided that I take lessons from a professional. Seriously, it takes the patience of a saint and an immense fearlessness for someone to teach driving. Of course it helped that my driving teacher had gas and brake pedals on the passenger side of the car.

Two weeks after "official driving lessons", it was time to take the test. Having not totally mastered controlling speed, I went too fast and almost crashed into a parked trailer with a nice 12-foot sailboat on it. Bummer. Failed.

Another couple of weeks. I was brave enough to take the exam again. I was trying to go slooooooowwwww.... Don't want to hit any parked trailers and such. Wrong idea. Failed for going too slow.

Two failed exams on my belt, I was too chicken to try the third time. I waited 4 months before I took the third exam. Lucky, it was the day before I was leaving for the Philippines. There was a sign that said "No right turn on red" at the end of the block where the Department of Motor Vehicles was. Totally scared out of my wits, I promptly forgot that sign as soon as the exam started. It took less than one minute for me to make a turn while the light is red and the driving proctor to decided that I wasn't worthy of a license yet. Darn it! But nothing was going to make me feel bad that day. Unlike the first two exams where I bawled my head off after my attempts at qualifying for a driver's license were "unsuccessful", I walked off with a smile. I'll be in the Philippines for a month.. beginning the next day.., Driver's license or not, I'm going home! Yeah!

Got back here in November 2005. Back to work and practice driving. Finally, I summoned the courage to try again. The fourth time. This time, I remembered the "no turn on red" sign at the corner. This time, I was on the speed limit. At some point, the proctor seems to be bored. When the whole driving around the city thing was over, I asked how I did. She said, "There are things that you should improve on". In my mind, I started flogging myself, thinking I probably failed again. Then she said, I actually did very well, with a couple of really minor mistakes. I passed!

Deliriously happy! I will have my license! Now I can go wherever I want without having to have a licensed driver to "supervise". Whoooohoooo!!!!! Throughout the whole thing, I learned a lot: failure is not my cup of tea. And also, it was fine that I failed three times. I had to have my picture retaken and I ended up with a nicer picture in my driver's license. :D

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