Wednesday, March 09, 2005

re-discovering the wheel

While I'm always trying to kill or maim as few people as possible over the course of my average day, these restrictions usually just apply to work. You know, in the hospital. With the sick people. But now I'm branching out (again) to the world of killing people in entirely new high-impact ways. I'm restarting my driving lessons.

(Past adventures in my learning to drive can be reviewed here. Kind of sad really, because that entry was written like, four years ago, and here I am still without a driver's license or the wherewithal to obtain one.)

Let it be known that if I had it my way, I would still be sitting on my non-driving ass, taking totaly advantage of public transporation and the driving expertise of others. But I have been GUILTED into learning to drive by my BATTLEAXE HUSBAND, who thinks it is obscene that I'm going to be someone's mom and not know how to operate a motor vehicle in case of emergency.

But we live in New York! I could just take a cab!

Yeah, but what if we don't always live in New York? What if we end up doing fellowships anywhere else in the country, where you have to learn how to drive? Not knowing how to drive means that we can never live anywhere other than the island of Manhattan.

(Evil mastermind voice)

Though I have to say that the man does have a good point about having options, even if it is just the option to drive to Costco in New Jersey with all the other breeder-types to buy some industrial sized drum of peanut butter (or whatever it is that parents buy in bulk). And I also think that my consistently early work hours next year coupled with the one-hour plus public transportation commute uptown at that hour (contrasted with the 20 minute rip up the FDR in a car) makes having the ability to drive mighty tempting. Why, that's 40 extra minutes of sleep! Or, 40 extra minutes of staying awake with a squalling infant, whichever's your pleasure.

Of course, we all understand that driving in New York isn't real driving. Many perfectly competent everyday drivers refuse to drive in this city, citing sanity and the preservation thereof. With respect to driving, as with respect to many other facets of life--New York City just isn't normal. How else could you explain the fact that there's no mention in the DMV driver's manual of:

  • The crazy hoards of pedestrians, from the most thuggish of teens to the most well-groomed business woman, nonchalantly darting across the street against the light in the middle of the intersection like they're playing a damn game of Frogger. Do you know what happens to that frog? That's right, HE DIES.

  • The garbage truck lumbering the wrong way down a one-way street, head-on towards you.

  • The distraction traffic. What do you do when you're driving down a street sandwiched between a bus and another bus, with a Snapple truck unloading in front of you and fifteen people honking in back of you because you're not magically finding a way through all of this? Turn your Batmobile into a plane and fly away?

  • The cabbies. Oh, the cabbies. I need not say anything more than...the cabbies. Oh wait, I have one more thing to say. How could they get their drivers licenses and not me? HAVE YOU SEEN THEM DRIVE?

That aside, given that I haven't been behind the wheel since my third year of med school, I think I did reasonably well today. Why, the instructor only had to use his little instructor emergency brake once! And that old lady had only minor injuries! (Kidding. What really happened is that I almost missed stopping at a light that just turned red.) We drove down around Alphabet City, around the Financial District, and then back up. Alphabet City was fine, but I do not recommend the Financial District as a good place to practice common-sense driving under real-world conditions. It's like insanity down there, between the narrow streets and the pedestrian volume (local and tourist) and the general chaos that ensues when you mix cobblestones and commercial traffic. Pretty for commercials, not pretty for my serenity. I think I have to go lie down in a dark room now and think of calming things. Like bunnies. Or taking the subway to work.

Currently reading: Believe it or not (and I'd be inclined towards the "not" were I you, because it defies common sense) I'm still chipping away at "Deception Point." Did I mention how totally sexist this book is? Like how the super-genius science woman has to act all butch to prove that she's smart, and "degradingly" calls the men working under her "ladies," like some sort of fucking high school gym teacher? Ugh.

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