Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

driving? driving! (take 1)

At the last FCS Harvard Square lunch (early May), the fact that I don't have a driver's license (I had, in fact, literally never sat in the driver's seat of a car) came up. FCS-Ian offered to teach me to drive, and I actually took him up on it. (I had planned to learn to drive last summer, but that didn't happen.) Our first "lesson" was last night.

We met at his house and he drove us to a nearby parking lot. On the way, he asked how I felt -- excited? nervous? ...? I said I felt neutral -- which maybe meant that subconsciously I was in deep denial about this whole experience. He said that when we got to the parking lot he would show me how various parts of the car work and then we'd practice in the parking lot some and eventually we would get on the roads. I could feel a rise up/seize up in my chest when he mentioned getting on the road, and I said apparently it was the "parking lot" thing that contributed to my feeling neutral.

Once we got to the parking lot, he talked me through Park/Neutral/Drive/Reverse (his car is an automatic, so that's what I'm learning on), etc. I hadn't realized that if you have the car in Drive/Reverse and take your foot off the brake it'll just *go.* That was initially nervous-making for me, but then I started to like it because it meant I could work on feeling certain things out without *also* having to figure out the accelerator at the same time.

Shifting one foot back and forth between the brake and the accelerator was probably one of the things I had felt most worried about prior (if you had asked me to talk through a list of things that driving involves which I felt nervous about), but it actually didn't give me any trouble.

What did take a lot of getting used to was how much you have to turn the wheel. When FUH let me drive his boat for a few minutes, he said you need to turn the wheel more than you do in a car -- which comparison meant nothing to me at the time, but apparently I inferred a greater differential than actually exists. It also really weirds me out that you can turn the wheel up to one AND A HALF times around -- made it much harder for me to feel like I had my bearings about what direction I was actually pointed it.

We both correctly deduced that I would actually take turns better if I were going more quickly. (I'm used to biking, where you're going whichever direction you're pointing, so I would keep turning the wheel to make it go the direction I wanted and then overcompensate because it would go farther than I intended it to, and if you're going really slowly then you're in the turn for a really long time so it exacerbates this whole process.)

I quickly became fond of the accelerator, which in retrospect wasn't all that surprising given how I bike (I enjoy motion/power). FCS-Ian had said he didn't want to run away; he felt safe in the car with me (at one point near the end I said, "Are you checking your email on your phone?" and he said, "Yeah, you're driving the car, I feel safe.") I said it would probably make him feel better to know that when I'm biking, when I feel nervous/unsure, my response is to slow down/stop, and I expected my response would be the same in a car. He said that was good. And I definitely was only enjoying the accelerator for the long stretches -- for the shorter legs of the rectangle/s we did the parking lot, I was ~appropriately slow/cautious.

FCS-Ian said I was consistently taking turns at 95 degrees rather than 90, but as we talked about it, her realized that it might be because I was trying to stay close to whatever line we had set up for me to be parallel to rather than just trying to be parallel to it.

He taught me the whole hand-over-hand turning technique, but apparently I quickly turned that into using just one hand on the wheel to turn -- which is probably a habit it would be wise for me to break myself of.

We did some practice stuff with gauging how close I am to something -- front, back, sides. Rather quickly, I was taking turns and weaving around things without really *thinking* about what I was doing, which FCS-Ian said is good, but I'm not entirely convinced that my spatial ~intuition is good enough yet for that to be safe.

FCS-Ian loves parallel parking and talked me through it while he did it 3 times and then talked me through me doing it once. That will definitely take a lot of practicing -- largely because there's a lot of stuff that you're doing, and I'll need time/practice to internalize how this all works (esp. this whole wheel-turning thing, plus figuring out how things work when you're reversing).

We added in turn signals partway through practicing driving, but I definitely didn't look in my mirrors at all ever (except when we practiced reversing) other than when I first sat in the driver's seat and he talked me through adjusting my seat and my mirrors. I had told Housemate and H!PS-Chelsea the previous night (and then told FCS-Ian as we were driving to the parking lot) that having been biking in the city for the past year and a half, I've learned a lot about being a wheeled vehicle in the road (as opposed to understanding travel as a pedestrian) -- but once I got in the car it quickly (and unsurprisingly) became clear that, as with biking, while my previous experience would help me in some ways, I would also have to learn a whole new set of things and get used to all that.

When we were leaving, part of me wanted to drive back to his house -- even though I didn't actually know how to get back to his house from where we were, and rationally I knew I was so not safe to drive on the roads yet -- apparently I'd gotten to a point of feeling confident/comfortable wielding the vehicle (much like on my bike).

Our next "lesson" is a week from Monday -- June 17.
Tags: driving? driving!, people: church: ian
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