I have taken two out of the three lessons I paid for and the third one will be Saturday.
|Me at the Safety Council wearing my "Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart)" shirt|
(Because driving, get it?)
I never learned to drive when I was younger for a few reasons: I never had a particular interest in it (like, I even had no interest in driving a golf cart around for my dad, or playing driving video games); I hung out with the people from the class above mine so they all got their licenses before I was old enough to and I didn't need to get my license to have any independence since someone could always drive; I lived in a college town for ten years and it was easy to get from one end of it to the other on a bike or bus; and most importantly, I am terrible with directions so I figured driving would lead me into all kinds of opportunities to get lost in new and exotic locations.
Driving is going okay. I'm no whiz, but I'm not hopeless or terrible. My instructor says I'm a good driver! And when we finally went around the mall a couple times and I was faced with actual driving situations and other cars, he said I did fantastic! But some of the orientation is tough for me (I seem to sort of hug the center line because I'm giving the opposite side of the car too much space), and to be honest I don't really have the feel of how turning works consistently. I always remember my blinker and I'm very observant about possible hazards in the road, though. My instructor said that's probably from all my biking experience.
Here's where the tale of incompetence starts. I had a really crappy day today, on the day of my second lesson.
For the first lesson, I got a paid ride to the site because I'd never seen it before and wasn't sure how hard it would be to find on the bus. I'd already written out a bunch of bus instructions I got from the Internet but I didn't trust myself because well I know how I am. If it's possible to screw it up, I will do it, again and again and again.
Pay attention to that again and again and again part. It's important for today's debacle.
So I got a paid ride there and back the first day. But I decided I should take the bus today to save money. I left a little later than intended, and had to stop at the corner store to buy coffee so I'd have change for the bus pass. I got to the stop in time to watch the bus leave. So it was really close, but I missed the bus. Checking my bus app, I see that waiting for the next one will get me there five minutes late, and my instructor seems like the type who would not like lateness, so I decided to walk back home and just do the paid ride again. (The walk to and from the bus stop is 20 minutes each way, by the way. So I walked 40 minutes for nothing.)
The ride in was fine. The driving lesson was fine. Then I decided to take the bus home. To save money, ha ha ha ha.
I reversed the directions I'd written down and got on a bus labeled route 1. It was the route 1 going the wrong way. And I'd kinda thought this might be the case even before I got on, because I thought it was actually the same bus I'd be taking TO my destination. Which means I was getting on it at the point I need to get off it for my driving school, and it was going to continue downtown.
The bus went to a transit center and a group of people got on. Then when the bus started turning this one group got up shouting about how they got on the wrong Bus 1 and didn't want to go downtown. They pulled the bell and got off and grumbled about having to walk back to the transit center and get on the right Bus 1, but they didn't want to get stuck going downtown.
I didn't want to go downtown either. I thought uh maybe I should have followed those people and got on the same Bus 1 they were getting on.
Yeah, I should have done that.
So, I was downtown. . . .
You see where this is going, right?
The downtown center was the end of the line so I got off, compared some directions on my app with the directions on the printed schedules, and concluded that I could take Bus 6 to Bus 15 to Bus 36 to get back into my neighborhood.
I asked the bus driver if that was doable, just to make sure. She said yeah, but gave me a weird look and I said "So is that stupid?"
She said it was possible but I might miss the 15 if it was early. But I could try it, she said. So I got on the 6. Rode it and got off at the right stop (one thing I did right!). And then I walked to THE WRONG BUS 15 STOP. I didn't see the second one on the other side of the street and again did not realize this one would be going the wrong direction. (I literally have no understanding of how this stuff works; if you ask me what direction I need to go, I can't tell you. Like, I cannot. I can't tell you if I need to go north or south or east or west. I can't point and say it's that way. I have ABSOLUTELY NO CONCEPT. I need it to be handed to me in very literal step by step instructions or I cannot do it. And when I try, I get lost for four hours.)
So continues the story of how I continued to be lost.
I checked my app and the bus was due in 3 minutes. Yay! But then I saw the bus stopping across the street going in the other direction, and figured . . . yep that was the one I was supposed to be on. There was no way to get on it. So I just kinda sat there for a minute trying to figure out what to do on my app. A woman with three kids wandered up and started asking me when the bus comes and if I have a lighter. Do not ask me for traveling information. You will die.
I decided maybe I should just see if I could get a bus back to the transit center and get on the correct Bus 1. I went back to the Bus 6 stop I'd gotten off at. At that point a guy was standing there and he started asking me if I know how to get to some place I've never heard of. I told him no and I'd never heard of it. He tried to ask me another question and I'm like "Look buddy I have been lost for hours, I still don't know how I'm getting home." He asked me how long I've lived here and I said "Eleven years." He made a gross face at me and said it was amazing that I could get lost in a place I've lived for that long.
WELL THANKS GUY I HAD NO IDEA.
I wandered away and figured I give up, I'm calling a paid ride again.
That was when my phone died.
It wouldn't boot up and claimed it was out of battery. (It's been doing this for weeks. I have another phone on order, an upgrade, and was supposed to pick it up today.)
So I couldn't check the app and I couldn't call for a car and I couldn't call for help, and there were all these weird buildings around with bars and boards on the windows and people standing on the street screaming and smoking. Hooray. I wasn't comfortable trying to find a business where I could charge my phone--it seemed like nothing was open really. So I just got on the first bus that came and figured eventually it would go to a transit center and I would have more options.
It was the Bus 6 again. And it looked like it had this very very long route that ended up all the way across town but had a connection to Bus 33. 33! I know that route. It stops near my house. It's one of the buses that goes to my closest bus stop 20 minutes' walk from my house.
So I sat on that bus until it got to the end of the line, got off it, got on the 33, and let that thing take me again clear across town until I got home. My lesson ended at noon but I didn't get home until 4:00 PM.
I plugged my phone in and when it had enough of a charge to call my phone store, they said yeah my replacement phone actually did come in but they tried to call and just kept getting voicemail.
COULD IT BE BECAUSE MY PHONE WAS DEAD YEAH THAT'S PROBABLY IT
What I want to end with here is that I am not good at certain things that many many people take for granted--they think I can do them, or that I should be able to do them, or that I'm exaggerating when I say I do things like get lost on buses for 4 hours or get lost inside of a bathroom in a foreign country. I am, like, bizarrely incompetent at these things. It goes above and beyond just basic lol no sense of direction. No matter what I do and even with tools to help me, I mess it up.
For this glitch in my competence, I have been regarded with judgment like you wouldn't believe. Most of it is laced with blame and accusation--as if I am doing poorly at this because I'm not applying myself, not "paying attention" (I am paying attention! I just don't understand what I'm looking at!), or trying to avoid challenges. None of these are proper descriptions of my problem. And there are several other basic things I don't do/have never done--like driving--that people seem to enjoy treating me with condescension over.
So let me just say what a relief it is to have a driving instructor who treats me like a beginner and doesn't talk to me like it's eyeroll-worthy that I don't already know how to do certain things, and accepts that I need practice, and understands that beginners make mistakes, and is basically able to work with me from scratch to help my abilities grow. He's not out to shame me for what I can't do and he hasn't attacked me or rubbed mistakes in my face. He points out when I make errors, and he works with me to help me understand where my issues are and what I can do to correct them, and he absorbs patterns in my strengths and weaknesses to build better driving skills with me.
He's treating me like a beginner who hasn't been behind the wheel of a car for twenty years. It's hard to express how much I appreciate that.
You can make fun of me a little for sucking at the buses, I guess, but would it be too much to ask that you not try to shame me for it? I already don't feel great about how limited my life is sometimes because I can't navigate, and furthermore, making me feel like it's ridiculous that I don't do something well just makes me feel like it's hopeless to try it. And then I'm certainly not going to learn anything. I live in the world. I know it's pretty unusual to be as grossly incompetent as I am at navigation. I'm not happy that I'm the person who leaves to go to the restroom and can't find our table in the restaurant again. It's not fun for me to have a random lost guy at the bus stop mock me when I am lost and I have no idea what I'm going to do. I already feel about as dumb over this as I'm ever going to feel, and I do my best to combat my known incompetence with tools (which are tough to use if they go out on you, ugh).
If you don't have it in you to be a good coach for someone who isn't as good as you are at something, at least try for a little patience, or failing that, just keeping your words to yourself. Do you want to help or do you want to make me think my mistakes are so unacceptable that it would be better for me not to try?