My First (False Start) Drive

Driving And Me = Phobic

I had just confidently and successfully passed my road test. I was proud, I was a teenager; I could now drive. My father had taken me to the road test and I was, like most teenagers, eager to show off my skills. I passed the dreaded road test easily and I left the test, positively beaming.

My father, reluctantly, let me drive home. The first, ummm, stop was the slightest, gentlest, teeny, tiny bump of my car into the car ahead of me at a red light. NOTHING happened, but my father started to freak out, including getting out of the car and talking to the other driver. There were NO damages, not even a dent or a spot. I was way to young to say or even think "hey Dad, chill, that's what bumpers are for" and if I had he would have swiftly slapped me across my face. He was already in a mood.

I was determined to keep driving and off we went. I was driving splendidly, I thought, slowly and carefully. We arrived safely at the street where we rented a space in a garage. All of a sudden, my father freaked out, threw his left leg over to the brake pedal and slammed it down, hard. He also started yelling at me "you are too close to the car on the side," "you are going to scratch it." What? Huh? No car was on the road, except for parked cars and I was fine. However, I was so shocked, horrified and embarrassed (even though nothing had happened) that, after that, I shut down and stopped driving altogether.I totally blamed my father for my chronic fear of driving, my new phobia. I quit.

I didn't drive for 25 years when my boyfriend (now husband) insisted that I start driving again. He was a magnificent teacher, terrorizing me with the jingle-jangle of his car keys to signal to me that it was my turn to drive!

He was patient and gentle, no screaming, no dramatics. I remember he used to say quietly "mantain your speed" but there were no close calls, not a fender-bender, nothing but his confidence in me. The first car-ride trip I made alone after that was picking up my parents from a hotel when they visited us in Boston. My parents were a little shocked to see me pull up, alone and I had to encourage their praise, but I drove home confidently. I was in charge NOW; my boyfriend believed in me and more importantly, I believed in myself. That was the beginning of my real driving adventure. P.S. I totally blame my dad for my initial humiliation/phobia and for not driving for twenty-five years. Just sayin……

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4 thoughts on “My First (False Start) Drive

  1. I got a beginner’s permit (written test only) at 16. Only to find out neither parent would teach me to drive. I was working part-time after school, on the weekends, and during the summer, so the onus would be on me to pay for driving lessons.
    Shortly after that we were in a car accident. Nothing super serious, but just enough to unnerve me, and make me feel like every car turning out into traffic was going to crash into the rear passenger area.
    And, since I needed to earn my tution money for college (I had wanted to take some time off education, but couldn’t do so and still live at home), lack of money for driving lessons and my fear kept me off the road.
    Years later, my now hubby tried to teach me how to drive a in a 1960s car on back, dirt roads. Not a good idea; I got to know ditches all too well.
    Like those with flying phobias, my palms literally began to sweat when I gripped the wheel. Hubby wasn’t the most patient of teachers, and so I still don’t drive. There never was enough money for the luxury of driving tests.
    Until we moved to the US in 2003, we almost always lived in walking distance of stores, the universities, my jobs (although some were longer walks than others, especially in bad weather. Here, while there is good public transit, it doesn’t go to alot of places I need/would like to go, and recent cut backs have made it more difficult to get from A to B.
    Will I finally learn to drive? I don’t think I could memorize the driving handbook to pass the beginners/written test. We can’t afford the cost of insuring two drivers — one of them new no matter how old — let alone own two cars, so I think “these boots are made for walking” will continue to be my theme song.


  2. OMG, that story about your first drive with your Dad could so be on a sitcom!! I had to drive because my Mom didn’t, so I had car priviledges on the weekend, so it was worth driving Mom everywhere.

    Glad you’re not scared anymore!



  3. I know exactly how you feel about this. I had a very hard time learning how to drive and would always “miss” stop signs. It’s as though they weren’t there to me. Of course, I wouldn’t learn until ten years later that I have a developmental disorder that kept me from processing information properly. My father taught me to drive and he did not believe I didn’t see the stop signs. He thought I was blowing them on purpose just to drive him crazy. I finally said I was just to shut him up. Sadly, he believes that still to this day.

    I still can’t get on major highways because I become so confused and terrified, I break into a sweat and start to black out. My driving instructor all but gave up on me. Still, I drive and I’m not terrible at it. Just don’t ask me to get on a major highway or drive someplace I don’t know without my GPS.



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