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Kate Robertson: Driving School


My final lesson with Chris was not unlike my first lesson with Chris.

"Slow. Switch lanes. Signal. Speed up. Up. Up, up, up, up. Okay. Slow. Speed up. See this parking lot up here? When it's safe, you're going to turn left into this parking lot. Slow. Signal. Stop. Okay, and ¯ go."

I've worked hard over the years to learn how to manage what, in the past, seemed like an auto-response to direction from authority figures. The response, if you're curious, is something like a defiant blank stare accompanied by few, if any, words. I know that in the real world you have bosses and teachers and people who are going to tell you what to do. And I've learned to smile and nod and do what I'm told. And it's great! Because I don't have a proper day job, a mortgage, or kids. I do have a couple of liberal arts degrees, which let's be honest, only further indicates that I can hardly do anything. I mean, I can't even drive.

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After years of not caring about driving, Kate Robertson has decided that she's finally ready to get behind the wheel

But Chris has, for lack of a better expression, been really grinding my gears. Don't get me wrong. I know he's just doing his job. I get it. But can't he wait for me to make a mistake before he tells me what to do? Can't he wait to see if I'm going to signal before he tells me to signal? Shouldn't my teacher have at least an ounce of confidence in me?

And of course instead of just saying something to him, I'm blogging about it. You mean my silent shrugs and mumbling, "I don't know," in response to his questions didn't send a clear message? How strange! And yes, I'm being facetious.

Luckily, it doesn't matter anymore. That was the final lesson until one last session that will happen right before my test, which is scheduled for early July. I have approximately two weeks to practice my three-point turns and parallel parks before I see Chris one last time. He will drive me out to Oakville, tell me what to do for one more hour, and then I'll meet with some stranger for the G2 road test, who will pass me with flying colours. Right?

But for now, I'm faced with a new problem. Who will take Chris's place for the next two weeks? Who will let me silently simmer when I hit the curb mid-parallel park? Who will let me borrow their car and get angry at them, all at the same time?

I have exactly one friend who owns a car in the city. And actually, he's a close enough pal that I know that, no matter how high the stress levels get, it will be fine. But unfortunately for me (and fortunately for him), he drives a standard.

So, who will love you no matter what? Whose car can you crash, knowing that in the end, everything will be forgiven? What runs deeper than anything else? What are you tied to no matter how far you run?

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The answer is simple: Family! And since my brother is also a useless lug that can't drive (sorry, Jamie!) and my mom is out of town for the summer, that leaves my poor, unsuspecting, dear, dad.

My dad has taken me driving before, right after I first got my G1, and I don't remember it being as bad as they make it seem on television sitcoms. Admittedly, I have one memory of almost taking his side mirror out at a drive-thru. And yes, it resulted in him, totally understandably, hollering, "Watch it!" and grabbing the steering wheel. And I'm pretty sure I hissed something awful back at him for scaring me.

But I'm a few years older now, and I think I can behave myself. And my dad is really patient and relaxed. Actually, I think he'll be as close to Chris as humanly possible ¯ cool as a cucumber.

And let's be honest, I have no other choice. Well, I could fork out more dough for a few extra lessons. But I'm willing to take a risk to save some coin.

I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen?

Read more from Kate Robertson's Driving School adventures

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