The title of this blog refers to Rihanna’s song in which she outlines a sexual challenge to her lover/driver to manoeuvre her like the mean machine she is. I’m at liberty to agree with her. The first few times I drove, the experience showed semblances to popping my cherry. For one, there was the ever-present feeling of fear and excitement, I was completely unsure of what I was doing, my legs were immediately lame and useless afterward, I always needed smoke a ciggie after and then there was the relief that I had not died ( or with regarding to my cherry, that I was not a damned woman without my Mary like purity).
As much as this was all enticing, driving proved a rather difficult task for me. When I was 16, I went away on holiday with my then girlfriend and her family to Club Mykonos (in Langebaan, not Greece) where we decided to go go-carting. Oblivious that this required any skill, I crashed into everything that was a tire at a tremendous speed leaving me with whiplash and a few bruises. Since then I “developed” this fear of driving. The line is always blurred for me between believed and imagined.
So, I went on merry way, relying on my popularity to get around (I’m a hot commodity, don’t be fooled). Then I got a job that required me to go places by myself and my co-workers (except for one) are not my friends, so immediately I became a liability , which is hard after you’ve been an asset for all your life ( wink wink).
See my friends would give me bullshit, continuously / always asking that damned question ” When are you going to get your license”, and I would shrug and say “some day”. Work however, did not want to hear some day. It had to be done now: I had to see clients, go here, go there, go frikken everywhere and so began the quest in obtaining my driver’s license.
I began driving last year in October and initially the process was kind to me. I felt capable, being able to navigate and control the machine, but I was too hasty. After a month of driving, I had my first driver’s appointment and …..I failed…on the incline. I did not even manage to pass begin and I did not collect R200. This did not get me down, I persisted and made another appointment and once again, over excited moi , did not pass begin or collect R200.
It became clear I needed more lessons, which I decided to do. This process is very heavy on the pocket and given that my father works in insurance and considered me a risk, all I had to rely on, were these lessons.
The next stop was Worcester, an early appointment meant an easy license right? No! Once again, I rolled at the damn incline. The incline and I developed this relationship where I hated it and similarly it did not want me crossing it. Another appointment at Worcester, and my colleague was to drive me there for my test. The manageress was in Pretoria at the time and called to ask how it went with my test ( she was there at Worcester when I made the appointment) and I assured her that the test day was the next day, until I looked at the appointment sheet and realised I had missed my appointment. Aaaaah!
Forward march and I managed to get an appointment the next week at Parow traffic department. I passed begin, and I completed the parking. Once on the road, all I kept thinking was “I can’t believe that I’m getting my license today”, then we turned the corner. I approached a pedestrian crossing and out of nowhere this jaywalking lady decides to plant herself midway on the crossing before strolling in the road (the rule stipulates that you have to stop for a pedestrian if they are ON the pedestrian crossing). The traffic officer (with his mean scowl and boep pens) just said “Fail”, and I went on to argue with him that she was not on the pedestrian crossing, but he wouldn’t hear it. On the way to the traffic department he made me do a U-turn around an island in the road (something I had never attempted before) and I was flabbergasted. I kept thinking “Really mister? Really, you make me do illegal moves, but when I’m right you failed me?” I cried that day.
Then there was a series of weekends where I was the social butterfly, visiting friends, family obligations and this made it hard to make another appointment. Parow traffic department is only open on a Saturday until 10:00 and making an appointment in the week , while taking public transport there , creates a huge dent in the working day since it took up to three hours just to stand in line for the eye test!
Meanwhile the only other practice I got was driving the manageress’s green Peugeot convertible…until I cashed it. Well not crashed it exactly. We were in Simondium and the roads are really narrow in that vicinity and at driving school the only teaches you to drive 60km/h and driving faster than this ,had me a bit panicky.
We then came to a sharp turn in the road and on my left hand side was a truck and another car in tow. I did not want to fuck into the truck and decided to move a bit to the left, but I moved too much and we went off the road. I then got back onto the road and preformed the ever popular K53 emergency stop. We swapped places but by then it was too late. Her tires on the left hand side were slashed as they were ground against the side of the road (there were no pavements), so we were stranded .
What followed in those two hours of being stranded in Simondium alongside the road can only be described as torture.Not only was I in shock that I had neerly died, but I was made to feel like a failure after having caused this accident and my confidence was a bit shattered. It was awful! I will say one thing though, the view and surrounding area in Simondium is really picturesque.
Forward march, Durbanville – and another fail. Then today, 30 May 2013, a date I’ll tell my children about, I managed to get a quick appointment at Brackenfell and as you can imagine, I had been dealing with immense amount of pressure.
But I decided …
1 ) no drugs: I had been propping myself up on Calmettes and Rescue Remedy at all the tests, which are natural pills which are said to calm the nerves and ease anxiety, but this obviously made me too relaxed ( incline issues considered).
2) I was Beyoncé : If I had managed to perform poetry in front of a crowd of 1500, then I could do this.
3) If taxi drivers could get their license, so could I.
4) I was wonderful, regardless of this damn license
5) I believed in God after all, because I had never prayed this much! ( I am very blasphemous by the way, sometimes I refer to Jesus as J.C, like his my homes, or I like to think of him as Mexican , phonetically referring to him as Hey Zeus) .
6) I was Beyoncé (it rhymes with Roché okay!).
So off I went drug free and praying. When I pulled up to the traffic department after completing the route, I nervously asked the traffic officer if I had passed, granted that she hadn’t said fail up until this point. She then said “we’ll have to count the points”. We then proceeded to go down a long passage (very reminiscent t of the Green Mile) where we entered a small room (very reminiscent of every interrogation room, I’ve ever seen in films).
While she tallied the points I was the image of a Christian statue, praying my little life away to Hey Zeus, until she turned around and said “you passed”. I jumped and asked to hug her and she complied. I then cried, an ugly cry at that, I was just so relieved and happy!
I put on a huge show as I went see my instructor in the reception area, I felt like what I imagine those contestants on Idols feel like when they get their golden ticket to the next round. I was fist pumping, leg kicking and full on victory dancing. It was a moment to behold. Persistence, self belief and Hey Zeus got me my license, now all that’s left to do is get a fast car and be my own “ticket to go anywhere” ( Tracy Chapman) or maybe I’ll just shut up and drive? Or write a poem:
Rev my engine
but don’t coast my clutch
a full observation
before you ease in slow
blind spots noted
hand break up
warning lights off
and all door’s closed.
safety belts fixed and seats adjusted
it’s all clear
fuel cap secured
tire pressure precise
front and rear.
Indicate your intentions
lock and steer
slow down honey
when you change that gear.
each five to eight seconds
check all those streets
observe those intersections.
In the K53 of this body
No arm crossing
while handling me
ignore that stop light
dismiss the amber glow
you’ve got permission
just go, go, go.
Disclaimer: The above poem will not secure your driver’s license and is only to be adhered to when naked.