Sometimes in life a bad driver's got to do what a bad driver's got to do...
I have saved countless lives in the last decade. Well, I believe I have, anyway; there's no real way of knowing. But how, you may wonder, did I achieve this incredible (albeit semi-delusional) feat? I'll tell you. I made an executive decision, as an adolescent, to not become a driver.
Now, there's no glory in making such a decision. You won't be applauded for bravery, presented with medals or even bought a drink in the pub to commend your choice (although if you did, you could very well drink it, without risking DUIs.) However, if you're anything like me, by taking this life path - and it's a foot path, of course - you may very well have just made the world a better, safer place.
Look, some people just shouldn't be drivers. In fact, I believe a lot of people shouldn't be drivers. Yet, look into the wallets - or yes, even purses - of the vast majority of these potential road hazards and you will find a light pink card with a ghastly pale photo in the top tight hand corner, which permits them to drive around the world, risking lives at every non-indicated turn, as they see fit.
I, of course, do not have one. The colour of my card is pale green. And it was always very clear to me, from an early age, that driving wouldn't be something that would come naturally to me; I have no sense of direction or spacial awareness, not to mention an almost passionate disinterest in cars. When boys my age at school would ask, 'what type of car has your dad got?' I'd reply, 'white,' and fail to understand why they were all laughing at me.
So perhaps it shouldn't have come as a surprise when I started taking lessons at the age of 17, and found that I was bloody awful at it. Reversing around a corner was, and remains, the worst thing I've ever done - and I've been to Skegness. Twice.
And it wasn't only me who found the experience traumatic. My mum took me out once, and once only. That was 11 years ago and her heart palpitations have only recently subsided. My dad, a braver man, for sure, took me out a handful of times. He couldn't understand, and rightly so, how he had fathered a son who could get straight A's in his GCSEs but couldn't understand what a junction was.
Then came the instructors. The professionals. Surely they could whip even the most ungifted driver into shape? Spoiler alert; no... they could not. My first instructor was a woman called Wendy. Blonde, bubbly and full of joy. Well, she was anyway. Two months of lessons with me and, by the end of our time together, I was careering around Huddersfield with a shell of a woman in the passenger seat.
'Pull over,' she eventually said one day, her hands shaking. I did, (well, half the car was on the pavement, but still, not my worst attempt.) 'I don't think this is working out for either of us,' she said, avoiding eye contact, gazing out of the window. 'Maybe you should see someone else...' I looked at her, aghast. 'Are you... dumping me?' She was indeed. I was dumped by a woman I was literally paying.
Next I tried a man, who was handsome to the point of distraction, but I was willing to let this slide. Rob, his name was. Three weeks, we lasted, before an unfortunate incident that saw a sheep wander, sheepishly, into the road I was driving down. (Only in Yorkshire...)
'You can't just take your hands off the wheel, close your eyes and scream!' he yelled at me, his eyes blood shot, as we 'had it out' roadside. I rolled my eyes. 'I obviously wouldn't have done that if you hadn't been here...' And that was the end of our relationship.
I considered continuing, as I watched all my friends passing their tests with wild abandon, before it finally dawned on me: I should not drive. In all honesty, I probably would have passed my test eventually. I'm good at passing tests. Be they math, blood and - even, possibly - driving, had I persisted. But just because I would have got there one day, wouldn't have made it right.
I am, or would have been, a danger to society. There's no way around it. The population of the UK would have been significantly more at risk had I ever passed my test and been allowed to take to the roads. Now, I don't like to use the word hero or anything... That's extreme. I'm just a regular guy, who's terrible at driving.
If you're reading this and think you might be someone who's better off not driving, I can assure you there are positives to be gleamed from eschewing the world of driving with a firm hand. Never being a designated driver, for example (chin, chin!) avoiding MOTs and, of course, never having to watch Top Gear.
So don't be ashamed if you choose to be car-less, rather than careless. Sometimes it's for the best. And anyone out there who disagrees, just think, if could have been YOU that I came across while bombing down the road one day in my (probably yellow) car, not paying attention while listening to P!nk's Greatest Hits. Yeah, mull that over. I may very well have saved your life, friend.
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