Jul 04 2018

Driving on the wrong side of the street

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 11:33

After almost a month of being in Edinburgh and taking the bus everywhere I was put in the situation of getting an Uber quite a few times, mostly because my Amazon packages were delivered where I work. I needed to take them home and some of them were too big or/and too heavy to carry to the bus station so Uber XL was the only solution. And I noticed that a trip with Uber was much shorter than one with the bus, the bus can take up to 50 minutes depending on how many people need to board it, but an Uber did even 15 minutes in a good, traffic-easy day. The only benefit of taking the bus was that it is was cheap and I was taking advantage of that time to read, but if I needed to get home faster I had to pop up 20 £ out of my wallet for a trip. And this was, well… painful.

As a coincidence, the week that I decided I needed a car, my got got sick, really sick. I almost lost her. The first morning when she started showing signs, was the morning when I had to go and do a test drive, so being an idiot owner I just dropped by a veterinary clinic, tried to tell them what my cat has, hoping I could have gotten some medicine to make her well, ended up getting her scheduled for an appointment on Monday morning and I went to my drive test. It was scary, I must confess. Driving in UK, as an European driver requires serious brains rewiring. You have to mirror in your head all the rules you know and apply them for driving on the left and also you have to change gears with your left hand. So if your are right-handed and your left hand is mostly useless, it’s really difficult. Thankfully, (yes thankfully!), in 2011 I broke my right hand and that I was the moment I realized that I should force myself to use my left hand more. Because sure, I was lucky then and there were just some bones that were broken and my right hand was supposed to be usable again in 2 months time, but what will I do in case I ever fuck up so badly I need my right hand amputated? With this thought in mind, I used my left hand to do right hand stuff whenever I could. I am even quite good at writing with it now. ;)

In September last year, I also started learning piano and my teacher was amazed that my left hand actually seemed to have more dexterity than my right. So when I got into that car, I was a little bit scared, but I also had the expectation that my left hand would surprise me in a pleasant way. And it did. First 20 minutes of driving and I was already using the 3rd gear.

So I bought the car and I used it to bring my cat home from the hospital. She was in there for two days. This was Saturday. And today it is already the third day I went to work with my car. I managed to trick the other participants to traffic that I am an UK driver. There was one single close call when I was a little bit scared I did something wrong , it was in this big intersection and I needed to do a sharp right and when I say sharp I don’t mean 90 degrees, more like 30. Google Maps said I could, the sign on the road had an arrow oriented right and the traffic light was green, still, made sure  that there were not many cars on the road just in case and I went for it. And then on my left I saw a bus. The bus driver had his WTF face on. From behind the bus a black Audi just popped up, full speed ahead. I did not get to see this driver’s face, but I head the annoyed honking as he bolted in front of me. After him, I did my sharp right and I was on the right lane, on the road I intended to be.  I still do not understand yet what I did wrong in that intersection. I guess I will just have to take a walk one day, because it is close to where I live and try to understand the rules of that intersection, otherwise, I will probably avoid it forever.

For me driving on the left is not such a big thing. As long as there is traffic there is clearly no mistake in regards to on which side of the road you should be. The sign on the road and traffic lights help you a lot as well. What I was expecting to be difficult for me was the fact that there were quite a few new elements combined: new car, steering wheel on the right, driving on the left(so mirrored traffic rules) and new city (doh!), so more than one thing to handle at once. But I’ve always bragged I am multi-tasking and apparently I still am. I did have the beginner-driver feeling a little, and every time I come back from work there is a little more adrenaline than it should. This is because of two reasons: I am coming back home during rush hour, so more traffic and in addition to that, there is a portion of the road that is under repair, and the usable lane is only the one taking me from home to work, the other one is blocked. So coming back home is a hassle and I haven’t managed yet to do less than 40 minutes, because trying to avoid that blocked part of the road, made me select the wrong lane more than once and ending up in parts of the city where I shouldn’t have. You could say I got lost, but it’s difficult to get lost with Google Maps, the more suitable expression is that: I am accidentally exploring Edinburgh. :D

Except for these little inconveniences, all is well. I have a lot of parking space available next to my house, gas is cheap and roads are pretty good. Well, sort of. Roads are really not that good, I have to admit this. So my fellow Romanians, you can laugh your asses off, because I am still driving while avoiding holes and bumps on the road, so I feel like home, only now I’m doing it on the left and in a more civilized country.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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