Driving was terrifying. …

Driving was terrifying. Let us sum up my previous driving experience, shall we?

  • just enough driving with instructor to pass test
  • half an hour or so with sister in CT
  • several hours with Jed in Utah
So I had actually never driven alone before. I took the subway to Midway Airport to pick up the rental car. The drive back from Midway was okay -- fairly mellow. When I got home, I loaded up the car (with just tons of stuff) and headed out. Didn't mess anything up too badly, though there was one icky right merge where the woman in the next car looked pretty annoyed with my timing. Sigh. Mostly, it was a long, painful drive. Stop-and-go traffic for an hour getting out of the city, followed by very high speeds on the highway. Everyone (in both fast and slow lanes) seemed to want to go at least twenty miles over the speed limit (of 65) -- I was getting passed right and left, which is anxiety-provoking. Halfway through, I stopped and got a frappucino (to counter the sleepiness, having only slept three hours the night before) and some Pringles (for comfort :-). I sat in a parking lot and called my little sister and chatted for half an hour. That helped calm me down. Then back on the road, once again at high speeds. By the time I got to Madison, my shoulders and neck were one huge knot of tension. But I managed to get to the hotel and park without killing anyone (or even injuring them). Whew!

In the next few days, I did a moderate amount of driving around Madison, picking up groceries for various parties. That was actually kind of pleasant, and by the end of the weekend, I was feeling much less anxious about driving. Getting into the driver's seat of the car no longer made my heart thump.

The drive back was surprisingly nice. Far fewer people who felt the need to pass me -- not sure why, since I wasn't driving any faster. The road was a little more crowded with Memorial Day traffic; maybe that was why everyone was more mellow. Whatever the reason, I did the drive in an easy three hours, with only one little bobble, when I slightly bumped the person in front of me while pulling to a stop at a toll. Oops. No damage to cars or people, though. I estimate that with another week of driving, it might actually be safe to let me on the road. Astonishingly, they let me on the road well before that, of course...

Overall, I can now see why people might actually like driving, and it certainly does add a fair bit of flexibility. But I'm still very aware that I'm riding in a little hurtling box of death, and that if I take my eyes off the road for a second at high speeds, rounding one of those sharp express lane curves, I could easily slam straight into a concrete wall. Sobering experience all around.

I like trains.

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