In honor of the fact that my driver’s license is finally expiring after what seems like ages and since they didn’t just mail me a new one again like last time, I actually have to brave the DMV and a camera for a new photo (two of my least favorite activities) . Over the remainder of this week I’ll be sharing some of my adventures and lessons learned while behind the wheel. For Part I, which focuses on first car accidents and lessons learned, click here. For Part II, which focuses on the anticipation and impatience associated with the time right before you legally obtain a driver’s license as a teenager, click here. For Part III, in which you will learn that I have no sense of direction when it comes to driving, click here.
To wrap up this “Behind the Wheel” series, that has kept in line with the standard of over-sharing personal information that is the norm for this social-media ruled day in age, I’ll leave you with my lessons learned up until this point in my driving career.
Car Talks – The best (and sometimes worst) most honest conversations seem to happen in a car. There’s something about the feeling of privacy that the enclave created within a vehicle leads one to lose their inhibitions and make confessions or declarations that we might not usually be able to so easily impart upon others, were we to be in any other location or setting. Whether the car is in motion or at a standstill doesn’t so much matter; secrets are spilled, frustrations are released, and relationships are terminated (and/or sometimes salvaged)— all before either party exits the vehicle. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with friends have been late night car chats lit only by the blinking hazard lights (flashing to warn the other vehicles that it may be a while before the car will be hitting the road again). In fact, with some of my closer friends we sometimes make a habit of ending the night with a long car tête-à-tête. Some of these conversations can be credited for re-storing sanity or keeping friends off the figurative “ledge,” while others are of a more light-hearted variety that usually result in a re-capping the night’s (or day’s) events.
Vehicle to Vehicle Flirting – I rarely pay attention to other people in surrounding cars while I’m driving. Although I’m aware of what’s going on around me, I’m very often either working in my head or lost in thought. If you want to get my attention while I’m driving you’re either going to have to yell my name and/or wave frantically, or do something outlandish and hope that I happen to glance in your direction to see it. Just like every other girl who has ever been behind the wheel, I’ve been hit on by guys young and old at one point or another while in my car. The worst is when you are stuck at a light and all you can do is roll up your window and/or turn up your music, and yet they still persist. I’ve even been serenaded a few times by someone in a neighboring car. Those that know me know I really don’t like being hit on and will usually ignore it. I always wonder if that ever works on any girls? I don’t think any of my friends have ever made a love connection from one car to another at a stoplight/sign or while driving. If you have I’d like to hear about it.
Anyhow, the lesson I learned came in the form of a beautiful sunshine-y day in Long Beach, Ca. I was in college and as usual had a car full of my girl friends with me. We were heading back to campus, when one of them told us that the guy in the car next to us had been staring into the car for a while. We all turned to check him out and he was actually kind of cute. However, being about 19 and 20 year olds we decided it might be fun to mess with him and decided to all give him our sexiest glances. We weren’t ever those girls, but for some reason we all went with it. I think we were more silly than sexy (I really don’t think I even know how to be sexy), however because I was the driver he was concentrating on me, so I kept it up just to mess with him. I figured that after the light changed, I could speed up and be done with that and never see that guy again. The light changed and we entered into the Long Beach traffic circle. Now for those of you familiar with that traffic circle you probably know that it can seem a little intimidating the first few times you are in it, but after a while you get used to it. However, it’s still an area where you have to pay attention to the vehicles around you. Long story short, the poor guy ended up rear-ending the car in front of him because he tried to maintain eye contact with me while driving. I saw the whole thing and felt horrible. We all did. I wanted to go back and apologize, but we all figured that might make it worse and he’d had the choice to look away. I still feel awful and guilty anytime I think of that story. I hope the damage wasn’t major (it didn’t appear to be), I also hope that that incident taught that guy to keep a better eye on the road.
So although it’s not something I’d do anyway I will never ever flirt in a vehicle ever again. It doesn’t lead to anything good based on my own past experiences.
Chivalry – While this could refer to opening of car doors, etc. (which is in some cases alive and well), I’ll stick to providing some examples that revolve around car troubles. Be it the fact that I’m a female, or perhaps the fact that you will almost always find me in dresses and heels, or maybe I just look like I really need help in these type of situations? I can’t say that I’ve ever had car troubles without having people around who were willing to help, whether I needed their assistance or not. Yes, they are primarily male, but that’s who seems be better acquainted with the automobile. I’ve pretty much always had roadside assistance plans for all of my vehicles, so although I’m usually covered when it comes to qualified help with car troubles – we all know how long that can take at times to arrive, so the generous act of a willing-to-help-passerby is sometimes immensely appreciated and welcome.
Here are three examples where I encountered an abundance of this willingness to assist.
Example #1 – Cracked Transmission: While I was still in college, I ended up cracking the transmission in my car while backing out of a driveway late one night. I fell off the curb, and hit the pavement pretty hard. All of us in the car figured I’d done some sort of damage, but none of us were sure what it was. The next day when I went to drive it, it was fine initially– but the longer I drove it, it began to get a little jerky. I had no idea what it was, so of course I called my dad (either he or my brother usually end up being my first phone call when it comes to car issues out of habit, even before boyfriends) to tell him what the car was doing and what had happened. He was in a different city so there wasn’t too much he could do other than tell me to take it to a mechanic and not take it to the dealer so that we wouldn’t get ripped off. So, in the meantime at school word had spread that I was having car issues and some of our guy friends and other guys I didn’t really know made an attempt at trying to diagnose the issue. I don’t know how familiar any of them were with car repair (they were quite the eclectic mix of creative types, surfers, regular college guys, etc.) , but I did appreciate the fact that they were trying to help. A couple of them did accurately say that it was the transmission that seemed to have a leak. I ended up taking it to Pep Boys which was down the street and having them diagnose it and sure enough it was the transmission. I ended up having to learn how to properly put in transmission fluid to keep replenishing the fluid that had been lost until the issue had been resolved. It was highly entertaining to have my guy friends trying to give me crash courses on common car problems and how to solve them during this whole experience, and this was obviously one instance when I really appreciated their efforts even if they really weren’t sure of what they were doing.
Example #2 - First Flat Tire: I think I’ve only had one real flat tire incident in my life (knock on wood) and I recall it vividly. I was driving on the freeway and all of a sudden, the road started feeling a little bumpy. My thought at the time was somewhat insolent and along the lines of, “Geez, they seriously need to re-pave this lane.” Then it got worse and all of a sudden I saw a stream of what looked like smoke trailing my car, and I realized my car was the one with the problem not the road. So, I had to maneuver my way from the fast lane to the shoulder of the road. I proceeded to call my dad and let him know what happened so he instructed me to get out of my car since I was next to the freeway, he didn’t want me to be in the car if anyone hit it and to call my roadside assistance. On that day we happened to be in the same town, so he said he’d head there as well.
I did as he said, getting out and proceeding to step to the other side of my car to a safer area to call roadside assistance. No sooner had I dialed the number when I turned around to see that 2 cars had already pulled over to see if I was ok. One was a car with three guys about my age (the driver thought he knew me and it turned out we did have friends in common as some of them rode motocross bikes together, but I didn’t know them), the second car belonged to a middle-aged gentleman.
They all volunteered to stay with me until roadside assistance arrived, as unfortunately none of them could safely change the tire as the flat was on the driver’s side and that was dangerously close to the freeway. So, wait with me they did.
A police officer pulled up to determine what the issue was, after this a series of events worthy of inclusion in a “Three Stooges” episode ensued. First, as the policeman approached us he ended up falling in a gopher hole and we all tried our hardest to hold back our laughter as he attempted to regain his composure and re-establish his sense of authority. As I was explaining that it was just a flat, and that I was waiting for roadside assistance to arrive a second policeman arrived, thinking maybe his buddy needed back-up.
Thankfully, the roadside assistance arrived finally followed immediately by my dad. Everyone else started to leave, since they weren’t really needed.
I can still remember the concerned expression that my father wore on his face as he approached me and my car. (more…)
In honor of the fact that my driver’s license is finally expiring after what seems like ages and since they didn’t just mail me a new one again like last time, I actually have to brave the DMV and a camera for a new photo (two of my least favorite activities) . Over the remainder of this week I’ll be sharing some of my adventures and lessons learned while behind the wheel. For Part I, which focuses on first car accidents and lessons learned, click here. For Part II, which focuses on the anticipation and impatience associated with the time right before you legally obtain a driver’s license as a teenager, click here.
Are you near a body of water? Do you see any tall buildings? Are planes flying overhead? Can you describe your surroundings? What is the weather like?
About a year ago or more, my ex-roommate and I jokingly and haphazardly came up with the premise for a new action genre film.. Obviously, we can’t give you all of the details and we’re sure that someone else has already thought of it as well or perhaps it has already been covered in a film—but they probably weren’t working with the level of confusion, exhaustion, and delirium that we were. I’m also fairly certain our imaginations could probably give theirs a run for their money. Actually, we’ll probably never develop it. So, if you feel you can do a good job with the basic storyline, it’s all yours. The general plotline involved being kidnapped via your GPS/Navigation system – I’ll allow you to piece together your own summer blockbuster from that.
This all came about due to the fact that my vehicle was at the mechanics– spending time as a temporary roommate with one of the original Dukes of Hazard cars–and I had asked her for a ride to some locations for work-related events that I had to oversee. Her navigation system proceeded to try to get us there via backstreets and what seemed to be alleys at times. If we didn’t find it so entertaining and weren’t too busy coming up with that idea and fleshing everything out by adding to the plotline with every mile we drove, we might’ve been more apprehensive of where we were being led as neither of us had ever been to this part of L.A. county. Eventually we made it to the site and it was one of multiple events that were going on simultaneously that I had to drop in at. Each event was located in yet another part of L.A. that we weren’t familiar with, leaving us continuously unsure if we were headed in the right direction.
How often are we actually headed in the right direction though? Overall in my life, I can’t say I’m necessarily headed in the right direction at all times, but I can definitely say that for the most part I’m headed in the direction I voluntarily want to go. Again, right or wrong may not always be completely obvious from the outset, but at least it’s my choice.
Now when it comes to driving, that’s a whole other story. I will openly admit that I have absolutely no sense of direction when I am behind the wheel, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Part II of this “Behind the Wheel” series that my younger brother got this gene, possessing an amazing sense of direction.
Sure, I can get from Point A to Point B without the help of a GPS/Navigation System; however just as easily I can get completely turned around in the most familiar of areas. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lost in my life, often time resulting with a short trip quickly doubling or tripling the destination estimated arrival time. If we were in a court of law trying to verify this, I’d have to immediately declare myself as “Guilty,” due to the amount of friends/boyfriends etc. who have been witness to this that would in a heartbeat testify as well as provide incriminating depictions of the various times they’d been an unwilling accomplice to what a couple of my friends refer to as my “whimsical meanderings.” I’m not sure exactly where the whimsical part comes in as we don’t end up in some fantastic alternate universe. However, my saving grace is that I don’t really get bothered by these detours and therefore most of the time the “being lost” part ends up being so much more enjoyable than the “destination experience” that we were originally seeking. Unless, of course, we need to be somewhere by a specific time or are under a time crunch, then the experience takes on more of a hypertension-inducing fervor worthy of an “Amazing Race” episode than a leisurely drive in the countryside (confession, I’ve actually never seen that show and don’t even know if it’s still on – but in show promos they always appeared to be on a mission with a limited amount of time.). If there is no time constraint and I happen to get lost on my own, I sometimes actually enjoy it immensely as my life can sometimes feel so regimented and my days are constantly booked from morning to late evening that a slight disruption such as this can serve as a temporary respite from the go-go-go that I am usually immersed in.
I can’t even begin to tell you all of the stories of the various times that my destination has eluded me. Ranging from my only trip ever on the 91 Freeway, where I completely confidently stated that “in order to go West on the 91 Freeway you must first go East.” I don’t know if I’ve ever uttered words that were wiser, inaccurate yes I know – but still a very prolific statement if you ask me. Friends threatened to make t-shirts that said that, I’m still waiting for them to make good on that threat. There was also the time in college that I led a caravan of cars full of college friends to Valencia (or some other incorrect location) when our destination was Hollywood – don’t judge, I have no idea why everyone was following me to begin with. Then the most elusive location—my local “unicorn” or “loch ness monster” if you will– in Los Angeles of all, for some reason a few years ago I could never quite recall where exactly the Little Radio Warehouse was, despite the fact that we went there fairly regularly. It never failed, if I was driving I would completely blank out on its location. One day our adventure trying to locate it was so bad, that a guy friend that was with us finally became so fed up that he demanded to drive and so I was demoted to riding shotgun in my own vehicle.
Despite the fact that I think they are miracle-workers for the geographically challenged like me, I can’t quite let myself completely grow dependent on GPS/Navigation systems. I also hate reading maps. I like to say that I don’t know how to read maps; this is actually not really true. I can read a map (more…)