I took my first driving lesson on Saturday. I’d spent enough time the past few months in the simulator to make sure I could finish it without crashing the car, and since I’m writing this you can see I succeeded. But the simulator wasn’t great for demonstrating what driving a real car was like. I mean, I know it’s difficult to simulate the environment, plus other cars, plus the actual driving mechanics. But until you deal with a real vehicle, with actual people driving the other cars, pedestrians crossing the road and roads that all have different sizes, shapes, and speed limits, then you can’t know what it’s like. I mean, you’re in control of an incredibly heavy high-speed vehicle that can cause, and receive, massive damage if improperly directed.
It all starts when you’re sitting in the car listening to instructions. I have to try and remember all the little facts from driver’s ed, but it turns out there are many things that they didn’t bother teaching you there. For example, the turn signal stalk on this car also has dials that control the windshield wipers and lights, and you have to remember all the different settings on them. For example, how many turns it takes to make the wipers constantly on, how you turn the rear ones on, or how to turn on the headlights without turning the dial too far and turning them to high and blinding the driver coming towards you. You find out that there are about a dozen different steps before you can even get out of the parking space and onto the road. Check back, check left, check front, put the key in the ignition, turn the key, put the car in drive, turn the steering wheel, put on the gas, and turn the steering wheel again. I was already tired just getting the car started much less driving it.
Luckily, the rest of the lesson went better than I was expecting. There were still a lot of rules I had to learn on the fly, and I made quite a few mistakes along the way, but thankfully there weren’t any major issues. It helped that there weren’t many people on the roads today, but I still had to deal with cars parked on the side of the road. I had to make sure that I wasn’t hitting those cars while remaining on my side of the road, which was exceedingly difficult. We went on a more rural road, which didn’t have any other cars on the side but did have hills. I was just getting used to the speed of the car when I learned about how you need to put more gas going uphill and less going downhill to maintain your speed. It seems it would be easier for the driver if the gas pedal always set a constant speed. The important thing is I made it through the lesson, and it gives me hope that I can pass the driving exam at some point.