Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women and Driving


Everyone talks about their driving experiences from time and time and it is not unusual that when a conversation such as this takes place in a group of people of both genders, to have the men say how women are unable to drive.... same old argument same old generalization. I am not saying that there aren't some women who lack the natural skill, the spacial reasoning and common sense to drive a car. I am just disagreeing with the generalization. I consider my mother, my sister, sister-in-law and I good drivers and we are female.

The first time I ever sat behind the wheel of a car was when I was 17.5 years old. In Jordan, the legal age to drive is 18 which I think is a much better age to start than 16 as they would be better equiped , aware of their surroundings and their spatial reasoning would be much more developed than two years earlier. Anyway, my father was the first one to teach me the art of driving even before I took lessons. It was expected, and still is, that a learner take 40 lessons at a driving school before s/he was able to sit for a driving test; both written and practical.

My dad told me that I was a natural behind the wheel of our old Champaign- colored Honda Accord. He even said that I was better at driving than my older brother (Sorry bro but I am telling the truth). I took 20 driving lessons instead of the 40 that was expected of me to take just because my instructor thought I didn’t need the whole lot.
I went on to pass my written exam and my practical driving test from the first time. The tests in Jordan are different than let us say The United States because two road policemen sit in the car with you; one in the front next to you directing you where to go and telling you what and when to do it. The other one sits in the back watching whether or not you check your rear view mirror regularly. The policeman in front also has the right to play tricks on you to see whether or not you are familiar with the law, right of way and other technicalities.
On the day of my exam, I remembered my brother, bless him, reminding me that the policemen who run the tests usually played tricks on the new learners and so I should be aware of that at all times. I slid behind the steering wheel and was asked by the Policeman not to put the seat belt on. HUH? I said, ‘No!’ of course but he kept on insisting… so I said, “If you would not like to put your seat belt on, then that is your choice even though I encourage you to put it on. But I, on the other hand, will put my seat belt on because I care about myself too much…” Smile!
The next trick he played on me was to order me to drive faster in a 50 km/hr zone. I refused and pointed out that there was a club on the right hand side of the road and a college on the left hand side which meant that I should expect pedestrian. He continued to insist on that and so I said, which was again my brother’s advice, “I will listen to you but only if you say that it would be your full responsibility if I got into trouble.”
I was very opinionated at such a young age, which gave mom a heart and headache sometimes, but I would like to think that the policeman actually enjoyed riding with me listening to my arguments. Needless to say, I passed my exam with flying colors especially the up-the-hill stop and start, the reverse gear trick down the hill (in case we ended up without break), and my reverse and parallel parking sections of the test. The policeman at the end of the whole test, walked up to me and shook my hand because I did so well on the drive. HAHA!
HOWEVER… Since I mentioned how I passed my Jordanian driving test I need to mention how I failed my American one… do not laugh at me! Well you can… I still laugh at myself sometimes.

My sister in law and I needed to take the American driving license to be able to drive ourselves to and from university in West Lafayette, Indiana and so the night before we practiced parallel parking and all that. BUT we seriously did not need any of this because the driving test was dead easy… I mean it… dead easy compared to the Jordanian one.
I slid behind the wheel again.. I was nervous this time round though because I did not know what to expect. I knew what was expected of me in Jordan because I took lessons. Anyway, the female instructor sat beside me and said,  "Ok… turn on your engine and go." I did very well at the beginning until I reached what looked like the main road. It was wider than the ‘artery’ and in Jordan that meant that you do not need to stop. I looked around for stop signs but I did not see any. There was a huge bus standing on the right hand side of the intersection. Thinking that it was my right of way, I proceeded and as I passed the bus, I noticed the red stop sign. I immediately turned to my instructor, smiled and said, “I will drive back to the center now and I will see you in two weeks!” knowing that I had failed the test. After two weeks, the same instructor climbed in next to me and said,”beware of those stop signs.”
 Moral of the story?... Men... try not to generalize... there are many women race drivers and who are better at driving than many men out there... SMILE!
Erin Crocker

1 comment:

Sazan said...

You really made me laugh on this one!
Here. If the car infront is slow or is doing some sort of mistake when parking or driving then the person behind immediately complains: "aaaargh!! it's probably a women" even though I think we are better drivers (other than parking!) because we take care. Getting a license here for a women is much easier, and sometimes you get help from the traffic police testing you.

If you have lived in Middle East you know how tough it is to park your car-- with no lines, rules and signs. The men here sometimes won't mind parking the car for you, or taking it out if it seems too complicated. . . they do it all with a smile!!

I am just glad more women can take on the road in our part of the world.