We've decided this summer to link up to The Life of Bon's Throwback Thursdays - it should be fun to look back, and to compare our British v American childhood experiences!
Laura: In Idaho, we can learn to drive at 14.5 years old. I know. Apparently the theory was that it's so kids can drive tractors on their farms. I didn't know anyone with a tractor in Boise, so we mostly just have children driving around town.
My parents didn't let me learn to drive until I was 15 (I know, GOD Mum and Dad, I was SO old by then!), but they originally said 17, as its when you can learn in Oz and Britain - luckily they understood that would be social suicide so were lenient on it. I passed my test first time, because I'm a super awesome driver, and my parents bought me my perfect little stick shift car (his name is Jerome) for my 16th birthday.
All I needed to do was drive a few hours with an adult in the car, and I'd be free to drive wherever I wanted and do all the badass things teenagers do in Boise, Idaho (like sneak out of school at lunch to get bagels downtown, or visit IHOP at 3am). So Dad decided to take me on a long 2 hour drive around town, to get me used to the roads.
As always I was a stellar driver, but was surprised to see so many people were so friendly on the roads. People let me into their lanes, didn't honk when I stalled the car at a stoplight, and I swear, people were waving at me. I could get used to this driving thing, people were so NICE!
On the way home, on the freeway, a minivan full of teenage boys pulled up next to me, and they ALL mooned me. Literally every window I could see had a bum in it. I was embarrassed, of course, and still have the image imprinted in my mind today, but just thought 'silly boys, I guess this is what people do on the roads!' like I was in the cool kids' club.
It wasn't until I was walking back to the car after a celebratory lunch that I saw it - my parents had made a large magnet, stuck it on the back of my car, that said something like 'PLEASE BE FORGIVING AND USE CAUTION, NEW DRIVER ON THE ROAD!'
*pause for horrified reader gasps*
So all the people smiling and waving at me, All the BUTTS - weren't because I was a cute young girl in a cute car, they were because my parents advertised to the world that I was a new driver with a silly sign on my car. I was mortified, as if I'd been walking around with a 'kick me' sign on my back and I had no idea.
Obviously the adult in me knows Mum and Dad were just trying to protect me and make my first time on the road a good experience, but it's still probably the time I felt the most embarrassed that I can remember!
Soooooooo I left learning to drive till the age of 20. There were a couple of reasons for that
1) All my friends had cars so I could get a lift anywhere they were going.
2) Money - I didn't have any
|How imagine my Mums face!|
Then at the end of my second year at university I was offered a placement at WH Smiths head office - it was perfect, I could move home to save on rent and get the train to Swindon. That was until I realised a monthly train was almost half my wage - the solution - learn to drive! The challenge: I had 2 weeks between finishing my uni semester and starting my placement. Just 2 weeks to learn to drive.
My first time behind the wheel was with my Dad - the calmer of my parents, but before I could drive on 'a real road' he wanted me learn the basics in a car park. A car park that took about 30 seconds to drive from side to side, and I couldn't get above 5 mph! After driving around in circles getting more and more annoyed, I flipped out 'This is the worse lesson EVER, I can't DRIVE if I can't learn!!!' Needless to say, it was a long walk home.
Day 2: this time with my Mum who was surprisingly calm as she coached and advised, but I will never forget the look of fear on her face as she held herself in with the door handle - I wasn't even going fast! It was for the sake of my relationship with my parents I decided to look for an instructor.
My first driving instructor was a nice guy - so calm I had to keep asking him if he was OK. Conversation was dull, as were the lessons, and after 2 lessons with him I decided I wasn't going to be able to pass my test by the end of 2 weeks learning at this pace, so I called a few friends and found a new guy. I explained my situation - the deadline - and he did me a deal - 5 x 2 hour intensive lessons in a week. I booked my theory test and felt confident.
To my amazement by the end of the week I was a driving pro! I had passed my theory test and it was beginning to feel natural. I even passed my test first time!
The only thing left to conquer was the motorway, and unfortunately the only time we could do that was a test drive the night before I started my new job. The first run went well and I was feeling ready to start my placement. The next morning I left extra early and COMPLETELY missed my turning onto the motorway, so ended up turning around and trying again - I still couldn't work out where to turn! I called my Mum, burst into tears and she offered to meet me and let me follow her. Third time lucky - with her waving for me to turn I finally got onto the motorway, and the rest, as they say, is history.