Driving mishaps, mayhap

I only wanted a driving licence when I turned 21 because I read that Jay Chou had gotten his earlier in the year.

I was a happy geek while learning to drive. Taking lessons only in the daytime and wearing the exact same pair of Nike trainers to stay close to test conditions. Spending extra (of my dad’s money) to have the same instructor at the public school. Choosing the very first test slot of the day to maximise the tester’s (probable) good mood. Making notes after each lesson and revising them before the next (“Look far!”; “Rearview mirror = every 2 seconds; right side mirror = every 5 seconds”). Feeling upset when my instructor made me do extra practice at a steering wheel in the middle of the circuit. Feeling high when I overtook a car in Bukit Batok without meaning to, by changing gears at the right moment. Happily imagining picking AJ up from the airport when she visited Singapore, surprising her pleasantly after all the times she picked me up in HK. Gorging on car mags, websites and the venerable Car Talk.

I passed on the first try, even though my car stalled at a red light on a slope out on the road. And my tester didn’t test me on the slope while on the circuit. (No one can take my licence away from me now! No one!) I think I got about 16 points for the test. My tester just sat me down, sighed, and said, “OK, I pass you lah.” I guess it’s true all they really want are people they can trust to be out on the road. Maybe my big toothy grin at the tester when my car stalled did the confidence trick. My dad was flabbergasted they passed me the first time round. Time to up the insurance coverage, might be what he thought.

The first time my dad let me out on the road by myself, I discovered him tailing me. The first time I drove a friend, TX, I went at 60 km/h and no more, refusing to get on the expressway. She was kinda bored (sian). I think we took an hour to get to what would now take half the time. When I started driving on my own, I got lost a lot. But I always remembered what my dad said — it’s OK, there’s always a U-turn down the road. When my dad was and is actually in the car, though, it was and still is not particularly stress-free! I loved to just drive and drive, then. Once, after watching Initial D with SV in Woodlands, I drove rather like a maniac, but the drifting was only in my mind. Another time, I impressed a taxi driver by pumping air into the tyres myself.

Overall, I was a pretty safe and courteous driver, I guess. A bit more risky and aggressive now. Just a tad. I love the sensation of almost surfing across four lanes when I go from the right to the leftmost exit lane at Lornie Road, gliding smoothly between trucks, buses and cars. On one of these occasions, I managed to impress my dad. My mum started off being impressed but now complains regularly about my driving. The surefire way of keeping me awake while driving is to have the passenger(s) chat with me, preferably about touchy-feely angsty things like love and betrayal. I do mount a kerb now and then.

I’ve had three driving mishaps thus far, none of them serious, thank God. And this is the point of my drive down memory lane today.

The first driving mishap was caused by a small sandwich and huge arrogance, and ended with a dude who drove off too quickly. That day, I learnt about the Father’ grace through my father’s grace — his willingness to take over from my fear and trepidation and wait to deal with the offended party, instead of compelling me to run away from the problem. May the Lord bless the dude with cheap and wonderful cars all his life long.

The second driving (almost) mishap was caused by not enough caffeine and also arrogance in thinking I could drive while tired. Sorry story retold here. What I learnt was that the Father wanted me around for work yet undone. And I’m utterly grateful He gave my parents another chance, and let off their bad daughter from an unquenchable guilt.

Tonight occurred the third and latest driving (almost) mishap. I was peering into the distance trying to see if there was a jam up ahead, but I was dense enough not to realise that doing so while driving on a curve will lead to a straight line smashing into a curved one. I only discovered I was headed right into the side of the divider (again with the divider! this time it’s concrete) just before it happened, with enough time to go, woaaaahhh, and straighten (curve) my path. There were electrical pulses of shock and relief running up my arms, I tell you. I learnt tonight that trying to look into the future is not a good look for me. Better to keep my eyes on the bit of path I’m actually treading on right now, and do my best there, rather than be tempted to the dangerous foolishness of prediction. Progressive revelation doesn’t only make sense within Scripture. Experience the story as it goes. Go forth and live it instead of daydreaming in a haze. Even if it means facing suffering head-on, not running away, but here’s the thing — we do get to run into the Father’s waiting embrace.

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