Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Driving Conditions

One of my biggest regrets in life was not learning to drive when I was still in high school. I was so comfortable with the idea of using public transport, not having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on petrol and maintenance of a car, and not having to deal with idiots on the road. The stupid things people do on the road is baffling. The road rules are complicated enough without having to be prepared for others who don't follow them properly.

I've always had a fear of driving. Ever since my mother, my brother Todd and I were in a car accident when we were really young. A crazy motorcyclist had somehow managed to run my Mum off the road. I can't remember if we crashed into the bike, another car, or the rocky cliff next to the road. All I remember is my Mum bleeding from the smashed windscreen, a policeman peering through the broken back seat windows asking if we were ok, and me replying, "Yep", as I brushed some glass off my leg. I guess I was only about four or five at the time.

Heaps of kids at school had saved up enough money from their retail or fast food jobs and bought a second hand car. Quite a few others were being given new cars as birthday presents. I had the opportunity to use my Mum's car. A red Datsun 1200, which she'd bought new in 1972. It was still in perfect condition too. 

But, foolishly, I didn't feel up to it. I just didn't want to drive. I was too scared to. My parents never forced us into doing anything we weren't comfortable doing. My Mum always blamed herself for my lack of confidence. She always said, "If only I'd pushed you into being more assertive". I always wished she wouldn't blame herself. A couple of years later, my extroverted brother Todd learnt to drive without a problem, and got the car.

I was always just happy to catch buses everywhere. It was easier. Less stressful. I'd catch buses to my various work experience places, to my after school fine art course, to college, to parties. Buses took me there. I didn't need a car. Even when I started playing in bands, I always lived with someone in the band. Going to rehearsals and gigs was as easy as loading up their car and going together. It wasn't even an issue. 

In the last five or six years, travelling has become more difficult. I moved into a place with someone who also didn't drive, and then I met and eventually married my wife, who doesn't drive either. Suddenly I was in a position where friends, parents and band mates were having to drive from the other side of town to fetch me and my musical equipment. During this time, I was only earning enough money to get by. I couldn't afford a car or driving lessons.

And Brisbane's public transport system started really slacking off. Buses were showing up extremely late, or not showing up at all. Sometimes they'd drive right past and not let you on. Other times, they'd have the number "000" on their scrolling counters at the front and back of the bus. And as they passed the stop and drove away, the "000" at the back would scroll into the bus number you were waiting for!

During my work in retail over the last five years, I've caught all sorts of buses at many strange hours. Early in the morning, late at night, middle of the day. In my next blog post, I'm going to talk about some of the bizarre experiences I've had with Brisbane's buses. The drivers; The rules that seem to be made up on the spot, depending on the driver at the time; The passengers; And the strange things that happen in the wee hours of the morning. I've shared many of these experiences as status updates on my Facebook page. And they've become quite a popular, comical read for many of my friends and followers.

Until then though, let me just say that my wife Jen has been taking driving lessons. We have saved up enough money to purchase a car that's small enough to zip around in, but roomy enough to fit all my equipment. I am quite far behind Jen with the driving. But at any spare moment I've had, I've been reading the book of rules and things I need to know for the learner's written test. I feel that once we actually have a car in our possession, and Jen is driving it around, I will be inspired to get behind the wheel of it too. But until then, I need to build up the courage to take the test, and then start the lessons.

At 32, I feel like one of the oldest people without a driver's license. People have assured me that I'm not, which is nice to know.  I was also made aware of people from Melbourne in their 30s who have also never learned (or needed) to drive due to their fantastic public transport system down there! All the trams and such.

Stay tuned for my crazy stories of Brisbane's buses, including the most bizarre one of all - The 5am bus!

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha great read! I remember that accident too. I was pretty young but I remember dropping my toy elephant on the floor nd trying desperately to reach it, even though I was tightly secured in my toddler car seat and had no chance of reaching it. Anyway mate, drivings easy, you'll get there!