Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Driving on the Wrong side of the road

My first week in Radelaide was pretty much entirely consumed with moving. On Day 2, Hugh had to work so his mum and I planned to help his sister move some more stuff into the place. We walked out to the car in the morning and she said, "Do you want to drive?"

Is 'no' an option? But she insisted, so I decided to suck it up. I need to learn to drive in this country some time, right? Adelaide isn't like London or Edinburgh, where you can get around anywhere you need to with public transport or your own two feet. Then again, it's not as bad as the Eastside of Seattle, where there aren't sidewalks you could follow along the freeway to get between suburbs on foot.

So I got behind the wheel and tried to start it up. Where was the ignition? While this was an automatic transmission (phew!), it was a special Prius where the 'key' is an electronic box and the ignition is rectangular hole for that box. Hugh's mum didn't bother forewarning me about this, so I searched for a few seconds before she enlightened me. Fine. Stick the box in its hole, and what? Turn? She waited a further few seconds to inform me that I just needed to push the 'on' button, then pointed it out when I couldn't locate it. Great, so now I look like a total dunce cuz I can't start a car. Oh well.

I didn't have much trouble driving on the left side of the road, as I mostly just followed the cars in front of me. Plus, the main road between Hugh's parents' and the new place has a huge divider between the opposing lanes. What I struggled with was driving on the right side of the car. You know how, when you first learn to drive, it takes a while to figure out where the passenger side of the car ends? Well, I had to start at square one with that. I kept getting too close to parked cars. I also noticed that I was relying heavily on my right side mirror and not checking my rearview mirror at all. I mean, it was in the wrong place! Or so my brain thought. The ride was uneventful, though, so all good. Unlike my first experience driving a manual in France, when the children in the back of the car screamed every time I stalled (and I stalled a lot.)

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