I learned to drive while growing up in a very small town. Like, the kind of small town Carrie Underwood sings about with back roads, Jesus, and dating the varsity quarterback. We had a “drive your tractor to school” day once a year. We had ONE STOPLIGHT.
Needless to say, we didn’t have a lot of traffic. Because we didn’t have a lot of people.
So when I moved to Chicago last month……. Well, I think you see where I’m going with this. There were a couple of things they must have glossed over back in driving school. Things like:
1) I don’t know how to parallel park. I think they tried to teach this at some point? Maybe there was a video on it? I remember there were orange cones, but I don’t remember having to actually park.. parallel-y. Instead I grew up where we had these things called “parking lots”. And nobody ever held up traffic trying to squeeze their mini-van into a five foot slot next to the sidewalk.
2) The cab drivers play chicken with the pedestrians. And everyone is weirdly okay with it. No one seems worried that their about to die.
3) People honk. A lot. Mostly at me, because I drive like a grandma.
I love the city, but I try to avoid driving in it. People who walk in front of cars, or weave in and out of traffic on bicycles, give me anxiety and… well, I don’t want to hit someone, okay? I’m the kind of person who would feel like I owed them a kidney afterward and, well, I just don’t have that many kidneys.
But, come on. What are you doing? Do you not see the cars? Or the cross walk? WHY ARE YOU JAY WALKING?
I grew up in an area where deer jump out in front of your car. You’d think I’d be better at this, but I’m not.
So you can see why I actively try to avoid driving downtown. And then, things like today happened. When Siri thought we should take the scenic/anxiety/Frogger route.
It was partially my fault. I missed my exit. Siri tricked me. She said “Keep left”, and then, “Take exit 12 on the right”. And I was like, “on the right? You told me to keep left!” and then I realized I was talking to myself alone in the car.
You know, normal sane-person things.
So I ended up whizzing into the downtown stretch of the city right around rush hour. (Well, okay, like 11. Isn’t that lunch time? Is there a “lunch time rush hour”? I learned to drive in a town with one stoplight, I don’t know things.) Once I realized what was happening (“The buildings are getting taller. The traffic is more congested. Oh, crap. Where am I?”) I looked back at my GPS and saw that it was “re-routing” me through downtown.
Oh, crap. Was that my turn?
Or was THAT was my turn…?
Nope. That was my turn.
Jesus, take the wheel.
Right away, I did that thing where you turn down the radio. Who can concentrate when Adele is belting out sad songs about… I don’t know, it’s Adele. There isn’t time to sing sad love songs. It’s time to focus on getting out of the city without hitting someone.
“I can do this”, I told myself. “Why am I so afraid to drive in the city? It’s just driving. I know how to drive. This is fiiiiine.”
Ten minutes later, I was being honked at and given the finger for sitting in the middle of an intersection while waiting on some dude in front of me to parallel park.
So, that’s how my day went. The good news is that I didn’t kill anybody. And the lady who gave me the finger eventually just shook her head and drove off when I shrugged my shoulders and mouthed “Sor-ry!!!!”, like I’ve never driven a car before.
What can I say? There’s a first time for everything! What do you think about driving in the city – do you think it’s scary, or am I just being a baby? Sound off in the comments below!