License to fear the road

December 10, 2008 — by Nandini Ruparel

Nandini Ruparel

The engine is running, and my clammy hands grip the wheel as I slowly press the accelerator. My mom, who’s sitting next to me, gives a small yell of fright as I swerve out of the way of a tree on the side of the road. Suddenly, there’s a crash, and when we get out of the car, the whole front is smashed through—the tree, however is completely unharmed. I have officially destroyed the family SUV.

This is how I have always imagined my first time behind the wheel.

I’ve always been scared of the whole concept of driving. It isn’t that I’ve been in any major accidents or have any other serious reasons to fear getting behind the wheel, but it’s more that I think that I will crash. This makes me feel even more pressure while driving, or doing something similar to it.

One of these situations is the ever-familiar riding my bike. I don’t have a problem with my beautiful baby blue bike, but I do have one with my inability to control it. I have to say that I’ve had quite a few crashes on my trusted bike. Most of the time, it was because I forgot to brake or I wasn’t looking in front of me. When I took my bike to the repair shop, the mechanic took one look at it and said, “You aren’t going to be driving soon, are you?” As much as I would’ve liked to say no, I’m going to be getting my permit in February, and apparently the man didn’t trust me to be in control to be on the road with “normal” people.

I have also become accustomed to the problem of go-karts and bumper cars being at every amusement park. All of my friends and family love them, and so I unwillingly go along, hoping that maybe I can sit next to someone who actually can drive.

That never happens as the theme park is not the place for following the rules of the road.

So, unhappily, I’ll get into the miniature car, mentally reinforcing where the brake, the accelerator, and the nearest employee is. Then, one of two things will happen. Either I will drive in circles in the corner for the whole time (because I’m unable to control the wheel), or I will drive so slowly that all the other cars will drive past me in a blur, and everyone who was unfortunately placed behind me will honk or swear at me. Needless to say, I’m not one to do that type of thing more than once every six months.

Since I’m getting my permit in February, I have some time to get over my phobia of driving. Some people have licenses for hunting. Others, a license to drive. James Bond has a license to kill. Me? I have a license to fear.