Posted by: cris | May 14, 2008

Learning how to drive

I’ve long wanted to write something about my driving experiences. Driving along the roads of Cebu City, and its different municipalities. Driving along the cemented/asphalted roads as well as the unpaved/rough roads in mountain barangays. Driving along the wide highways and the narrow streets.

Driving by itself is not really hard. When you learn how to start your vehicle and you have an empty, clear, wide road, you wont have a problem. Really. But when you drive along the busy streets of the city, then, you have a problem.

Hubby has taught me how to drive while we were still working in Tinian,  Northern Marianas Islands in 1993. I’ve been doing well, practicing in the abandoned airfield where the atomic bombs were sheltered before they were dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima during WW ll. (please refer to http://www.cnmi-guide.com/history/ww2/6/)

However, one day, while practicing within the area of our residence, I slammed the car to the lemon tree of our landlord which was planted just a few meters away from their house. OMG! I was really shaken and that ended my noble pursuit of being a good driver.

In 1997 I gave birth to my youngest son. He had complications and was hospitalized after 8 days. He had a tube in his nose for feeding, another one in his mouth for breathing and had to be suctioned from time to time, had his eyes covered because he was put under lights, he had dextrose . I was crying most of the time. He was 50/50. He stayed in the hospital for two weeks and survived the ordeal. He was very brave. But his ordeal resulted to other problems which required therapy (OT/PT). At around four months old, we started therapy.

We were still living in the province then, around 60 kms from the city, where therapy is available. I had to carry him, ride on a bus, then walk a few meters to get a jeepney to reach the hospital. We do this 2 to 3 times a week. At 9 months old, we had to transfer to the city to be nearer to therapists. We are lucky to live in an area where there is a community hospital and OT/PT is available.

But after three years, the community hospital where my youngest child is undergoing therapy was closed for renovation. It’s going to be upgraded to a tertiary hospital and the staff will be transfered to a place much more harder for us to reach. So I decided to bring my son to a special school in the city to continue his therapy . But it will also mean that after riding a “habal-habal”, we will ride in a crowded jeepney. I find it really really hard, since my child is flaccid and can’t support his head well yet. Jeepneys here are being flown by the drivers, not driven. So, while sitting in the jeepney, I have to keep myself upright and protect my child, especially his head at the same time. The more I think of it, the more I find it harder.

But since necessity is the mother of all inventions we bought a second hand pick-up (surplus) and I planned to start driving again. Even if I abandoned all hopes in 1993, I found out that I can reinvent myself, in a way. Our house is very far from the city proper, because we live in the mountainous/hilly side of Cebu City. The only means of public transportation here in our village are private motorcycles called “habal-habal”. With no hubby to drive me around I had to contain my fright and learn how to drive

It was April 2001 when I took driving lessons. The first day of my driving lesson, I was shocked because the instructor told me to take the driver’s seat and drive. What????????? I can’t do that. My legs are shaking. “What ifs” entered my mind. One after the other. I wanted to back out. But the therapy sessions has more weight.  So I talked to the instructor if it would be okay if we used my suzuki pick up called multicab since that will be the one I am going to use later on. That way, I won’t be afraid if I make minor mistakes in driving since I owned the car. (That also means I don’t have to pay someone else if I make mistakes.) He agreed.

Next day, using my suzuki pick-up, we drove towards the Lahug and Busay area of Cebu City. The instructor told me that because I already know how to drive, I need to learn how to stay in my lane while driving. There were only two lanes with a solid yellow line all through out the winding mountainous roads. But I am determined to stay on my lane. It was hard, because of the blind curves and vegetation blocking your view on both sides of the road. I kept on “beep-beep”ing everytime I don’t have a clear view of the road. Going up is hard but coming down is harder because I have to keep on using the brakes. We practiced there for two sessions and then drove in the city on the third.

Driving in the city is much harder because, here, you drive along all kinds of vehicles, all kinds of drivers. But the instructions were clear: don’t be afraid, just drive carefully, be vigilant, check your side mirrors from time to time, use signal lights if you change lanes, use breaks, always slow down when you approach a corner or intersection, follow traffic rules. These were the rules. And I am very obedient. two more sessions in the city and training is done.

So when the therapy sessions started in May, although I am still afraid, I braved the streets of Cebu and tried to conquer my fears with a lot of prayers. It was not easy. For some months, my legs were shaking everytime I sat on the driver’s seat. But I got no choice. If I don’t drive, my child can’t go to therapy.

My youngest child has not fully recovered yet, but he has improved through time. He can walk with minimal support now. It’s still a long way to go, maybe a lifetime. But I am, and the whole family is willing to wait. I still drive him to school everyday, even during summer. If I didn’t conquer my fear he could have stayed in bed all the time and didn’t learn how to stand up and walk.

My driving skills is really a blessing.


Responses

  1. I commend you for what you did. I had the same experience when my daughter and I were in an accident. She was in a coma for 10 days. I was literally shaking the first time I drove after the accident. But since, I am a single mom here in the US, I had to gather the courage to do it, otherwise I would starve. It took a few years before my fear disappeared.

  2. Thanks Edith. I also commend you for your strength in spite of your situation there in the US. I’m glad your child has recovered.

  3. It was kinda late when I started to learn how to drive. We had a car and I always depended on a driver to drive for me. My wife does not drive either. We would rather take the jeep or hail a taxi rather than force ourselves to drive.

    But circumstances forced me to learn how to drive. Our driver was the one who taught me how to drive in a bayside subdivision far from Manila traffic. The neighborhood was bothered by my faulty starts and loud squeerks that they reported me to the village guard who forced me to move out and told me not to come back again. Mind you, I was taking anti-depressant medication at that time because of some life-changing problems I had. The psychiatrist who was treating me then, told me that it was ill-timed for me to learn how to drive while on medication. The frustrations on driving would only aggravate my manic-depressive situation. I was a completely different person then. From a happy, positive, arrogant person, I was negative, meek, and recluse. My driver could not take me anymore so I tried to pay a professional driving instructor. I could not imagine his face of bewilderment seeing a depressed fellow like me trying to learn how to drive and I was talking about things that were negative, pessimistic thoughts. He would not know when to act as my instructor or be my pseudo-psychiatrist.

    I went to a trip to Bacolod and my friend lent me her delivery minicab to continue my driving lessons in the subdivision where she lives. She told me that I failed my driving lessons in all counts. She told me that I was acting weird. I am turning crazy. I told her that I will drive her Pajero instead and she was finding all the right words just to say NO!

    Years later and I was out of depression and I had the courage even to look back and write this story in your blog.


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