When Learning to Drive Goes Wrong – and How It’s Not That Bad

I’ve got a daughter who should be learning to drive. She’s been given plenty of opportunities, including some gifted driving lessons, while Jaguar even gave her the keys to an XE and pointed her towards an empty car park.

But for some reason she’s not grasped the nettle and followed through with her lessons. As such it’s still an endless battle of text messages requesting taxi services from Mum or Dad, or the slightly more frustrating “actually I won’t be home as I’m staying at a friend’s house” usually moments after dinner has been fully prepared and cooked.

Financial woes might be one reason for failing to take her test – or even more than the free lessons – but I fear part of it might be my own fault for relaying all the things that went wrong when I was a learner driver.

Sense of Humour Failure

Top Gun has always been a favourite film. It has fighter jets in it, so it starts at a solid 8 out of 10 and only gets better. Sadly, walking up to my instructor’s car shouting “I feel the need, the need for speed!” didn’t start my lesson off particularly well. The frosty reception only got worse when a tailgater was bothering us and I declared that “I’m gonna hit the brakes, he’ll fly right by.” He’s clearly more of a Cocktail fan.

Who Am I?

For some reason unknown to me, my instructor started calling me Pete early in our relationship. This shouldn’t have been much of an issue, but my name is Phil. Unsure if I’d heard him properly, I failed to correct him. Then, being a teenager and lacking the confidence I’ve got now, I felt I couldn’t correct him from then on. Likewise, if he found out I was a Phil, he never let on and carried on like a true professional.

Don’t Stop Me Now

We all do it. Even now, as a professional motoring person with decades of experience, including advanced track work and all sorts of silly adventures, I can still kill a car at traffic lights. Doing that over and over again, getting more and more flustered as I go, is one of the nightmares that still haunts me.

Queuing traffic behind was wondering why the clown at the front of the queue was resolutely ignoring the green traffic light, but by the fourth time of seeing the red turn to green, the driver behind lost it. Horns blaring, lights flashing, it was by some miracle only then that I got myself together and moved on. Just as the lights went red and the car behind had to stop.

Forget About It

Relaxing in bed in the last morning, Jeremy Kyle on the television (well, it was Jerry Springer in my day), and toast by the side, I remember being disturbed by the noise of a car outside. That was followed shortly by a horn beeping, and then a knock at the door.

I was shocked to find my instructor standing there, but he was probably more surprised by my appearance. Panic ensued and I hurriedly had to get ready for my lesson, all the time aware that I was spending money and not actually driving the car.

Give Me Some Credit

After spending a couple of hours with my instructor, we returned to my house. The instructor didn’t do this job for free, so expected some cash from me. The only issue is that my wallet was surprisingly empty.

Desirably running around the house looking for cash raised a grand total of zero, so I had to promise to pay as soon as possible. Sadly, I then went on holiday so failed to even speak to my instructor for two weeks. That didn’t help our relationship.

It Could Be Worse

What this hopefully shows you is that things could be a lot worse than you might imagine they’ll be. Whatever happens to you, no matter how embarrassing you think it might be, will be forgotten quickly. And even if it isn’t, it’s likely only you and your instructor will ever know, so what’s to worry about?

Forget your self doubt, get out there and learn to drive. You’ll be rewarded with the freedom to travel wherever and whether you like, and will never have to rely on Dad’s taxi ever again.

Unless there’s a pub involved, seemingly…

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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