Why NOT Passing First Time makes for a less Rocky Road…
Recently, I was lucky enough to watch a hilarious version of Just A Minute – at The Gibraltar Literary Festival, hosted by Nicholas Parsons and starring Dame Esther Rantzen, author Felix Francis, and comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Miles Jupp. I don’t think I’d laughed that hard in years. Their quips and one-liners were stomach-clenching, rolling around on the floor in stitches kind of stuff. Until Miles Jupp revealed he’d taken five attempts to pass his driving test… and was showered with critique.
Which made me proudly defiant. For I took one attempt more than that. Yes, I passed my driving test finally on attempt number six.
Now I could get all argumentative and tell you that statistically the test centre had to pass only a certain percentage of drivers; being allotted the Cuddly Teddy Bear of an examiner was a guaranteed pass (and I’d somehow rather unfairly ended up with either Madam Mini Skirt or Robot Guy – a ‘man’ who probably wouldn’t shed a tear if I’d brought 100 chopped onions into said car and plonked them on his pedantic clipboard – for attempts one through to five).
But I won’t be bitter. Because it’s all in the past and, actually, I realise now how much better a person my string of failures (let’s just forget the many thousand pounds spent in the process… as well as my beloved white Fiat Uno which sat ever patiently in the garage, waiting for the day it would get some action) has made me. Not only when it comes to sitting behind the wheel.
So for anybody else who has been in this boat of frustration whilst their 17 year old plus peers have care-freely taken their cars to the roads as if re-creating a Starsky and Hutch chase, this is why those of us who have taken several attempts to join you, in our much more sophisticated style, are indeed the better drivers:
We have buckets of it. For one, we take more pride in our cars than most. They have patiently waited for us in garages and showrooms, on forecourts and at curb sides. And we can only thank them for their unwavering belief as they took us out with our parents and boyfriends, enduring the tears and tantrums of frustration and wearing their L plates like a badge of honour.
But our gratitude doesn’t stop there. No, it overflows like a oil can. We are overwhelmed with thanks for our new found freedom. Now we no longer have to rely on others to transport us from A to B; to commute at their convenience to work, to spontaneously decide ‘What the heck, let’s just jump in the car and drive to Blackpool, London, Snowdon for a climb, Cornwall for a chill out at the beach’. And gratitude is the great multiplier – according to the Law of Attraction.
So this whole process of failure and waiting means not only do we really appreciate it when we finally pass and get to drive our car solo, savouring every detail, nook and cranny of our motor and all the joy that it brings us. But we are also guaranteed many more things to be thankful for magically appearing in our lives. All because we’re super thankful.
2: Conscious and ethical
We’re the ones who are most likely to stop at the zebra crossing… before the elderly couple reach it… just in case the car behind isn’t so considerate; to read the road well ahead, to drive an electric car, to never motor over however many kmph has most recently been stated as the ideal speed in order to conserve as much fuel as possible. We’re also most likely to volunteer to set up the car pool scheme at our places of work. Why? Because we’ve had so many years of bargaining with a Higher Power that our consciousness is ingrained with good citizenship:
“If you let me pass my test today… I promise I’ll never drive a diesel/always hire the car with the smallest engine when using an overseas rental company/always plant a tree at the end of the year to combat the exhaust fumes of my carbon footprint…”
3: We’re less likely to give up on ANYTHING
We know that the peaks and troughs, the ups and downs, and the spaghetti junction of emotions are simply part of the journey. We understand that failure, far from being a negative thing, actually means we are one step closer to our destination than we were yesterday. And this has to be one of life’s most important lessons of all. We know that we have a strength of character, determination, focus and belief that could frankly be bottled and sold… for millions.
4: We know the rules of the road better than the examining board
They just set them. But what do we do? We eat, sleep and breathe the flippin’ things. We could sit in that highly-esteemed Mastermind chair and set new world records on our chosen specialist subject of road signs. Even if our competitors are general knowledge geniuses, we’re streets ahead. They’ll never catch us up. Not even Top Gear’s The Stig…
Naturally we just are. We’ve waited (in some cases) for years to zip up and down the motorway, so there is NO way we are going to jeopardise our much-coveted right of passage by overtaking as much as a tractor on an arrow straight Roman road if there is as much as an inkling of possibility that a Ferrari could come hurtling down the other lane out of nowhere. We will always double and triple check that all our passengers are neatly tucked in their seats with buckles fastened. And we will only play loud and wild music if we are on an empty country road doing a maximum speed of 29 mph. Never ever in a city centre traffic jam. That is reserved solely for the expression of Enya and Morcheeba.
6: More patient.
We know that the best things come to those who wait. Because we’ve lived out the process. We don’t need instant gratification to make ourselves happy. This ties beautifully in with point 5. We just don’t feel the need to hare around at breakneck speed to get to a meeting or the school gates. If we’re late, we’re late. ‘Better to be five minutes late in this life than 5 minutes early in the next,’ as the saying goes…
7: Infinitely better at parking.
Well, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? Anyone who has parallel parked approximately 1089 times is going to be a whizz at getting into a tight spot normally designated to the size of a Smart car… even in a Volkswagen estate. Whereas the rest of you – tut – it’s backsides jutting out at all angles, bonnets up rears and tyres slowly decompressing because they are wedged into the pavement. Okay – I say this in jest when it comes to myself – I will do anything to avoid fitting into a small gap unless there’s enough room to safely park ten fire engines in it… and their support vehicles. Still, you’d be the same after 1089 attempts at it… not to mention the additional five between Madam Mini Skirt and Robot Guy breathing down your neck. Sometimes the past is, well, just better off in the past.
No doubt you’ll all beg to differ. For we are overwhelmingly outnumbered in our small but exclusive group…
And second and third timers: don’t you even think about jumping on the bandwagon, you don’t make the cut. Nowhere near.
Fourth timers: okay I suppose I will let you in.