For me, learning to drive on the left side of the road is like learning how to write with my left hand… I can do it, but it looks a little messy: there are curves where there shouldn’t be curves, it’s a bit erratic… and when it’s all said and done, it’s just a little painful to watch.
However, what I lack in skill I make up for with ambition. There is no road I am unwilling to drive, and many are quite narrow. Occasionally I find myself drifting back to my familiar side, but my wife pipes in to stay the course, “Hey, keep left!”
Just to keep things exciting, I also made sure our 4×4 had a manual transmission. If I have to drive on the left side of the road, and in the right side of the car, then I want the comfort of shifting my own gears just like I do in our mighty Hyundai. I guess this is just part of the “comforts of home” in which many travellers desire.
Jumping in the RAV4 I decided not to ask the “Car Rental Man” how to operate this vehicle, just in case he suddenly realized how little I actually know about what I am embarking on. It would be like the surgeon asking the nurse to point out the heart, totally inappropriate.
So I did my research on the google-machine… and I thought I was ready to impress the wifey.
I started the vehicle, pulled out of the parking spot, and immediately headed for the exit. My ego was soon crushed as I pulled up to what I thought was the exit, but was actually the entrance… since the exit to “car parks” in the UK are on the left.
People were passing us and laughing at us… I guess driving out of the airport rental car parking lot on the right side immediately labels you as a tourist who doesn’t know what you are doing.
Unable to avoid the humiliation any longer, and really just wanting to get away from all the other tourists laughing at me… I just sped away… on the wrong side of the road.
However, correcting my early errors and moving on is my specialty. So I quickly adapted and got to the left… and stayed to the left.
Sadly, I came upon my first intersection and didn’t realize it was a “round-about” until too late. I stopped the vehicle in the middle of the round-about blocking traffic coming from the right.
Minor problem, I thought… and I proceeded to put the 4×4 in reverse.
Oh man, where is reverse on this stick-shift… it says up and to the left, but it wouldn’t get into reverse… I kept putting the car in first and moving forward into more traffic.
Andrea was now quite panicked, so I did what any rational husband would do to calm his wife, I took off forward through the red light.
I found a nice quiet sub-division and decided to learn how to work this 4×4… first, figuring out how to get the stick over to “R”.
Ahhh… I must lift up this do-dab thingy, then push left, then push forward. Oohhh, it even has a video display of the space behind me when I back up… and it’s in 16×9 widescreen!
Being a quick study, I was now ready for the open road.
Andrea smiled at me and patted my leg with encouragement and said, “Look out world, here we come!”
Truer words were never spoken.