Beep Beep Beep Beep, Yeah!

Cars are scary. They're big steel machines of doom. I do not trust that a car I operate won't just stop working as a drive it. I fear running over nails. I fear psycho people in lanes next to me losing their minds and making sharp turns of their steering wheels to crash into me...for no reason.

No one (aside from Jeff) at all understands my fear of driving. Not just, "driving at night is a little creepy." We're talking nightmares. Every bad dream I have that I can remember involves me operating a vehicle careening out of control. Me driving a vehicle without brakes. Having to merge into traffic and not being able to maneuver the steering wheel.

I drove a bit growing up (living in a Florida suburb, you kind of had to), but unlike the majority of my friends, I didn't have my own car. So I borrowed my parents' cars when necessary, to drive to and from my house and my buddies' houses, the mall, Borders, Friday's, and back home. I was terrified of changing lanes. Merging. Made me shake. I would plan ahead and then drive in the left or right lane all the way to my destination. Thank goodness I never accidentally ended up in a middle lane -- I might have driven all the way to Orlando for fear of death.

Anyway, I managed to leave Coral Springs never having driven on a highway -- the ultimate terror. Someone else always did it when necessary. The highway gives me cold sweats. Those cars move so fast, and there are so many, and god...I would self destruct. I have always ALWAYS had an (I thought) irrational fear of "accidentally" merging onto a highway as I drove through the Ft. Lauderdale streets. Every time I drive near a highway I tense up and hold onto the wheel like a grandma. People think this is hilarious. "That's impossible," they say. "You know if you're getting onto a highway."

Well...SOMETIMES YOU DON'T.

"Take Sunrise all the way PAST 1-75 and then turn left on 138th street," said my aunt.

"Are you SURE the road goes PAST I-75? Will I go over or under it?"

"Oh, Sheryl, I don't know, you'll just pass it."

I drive down Sunrise, all the way West, and see big signs announcing the arrival of I-75. My stomach grows a bit queasy, as it always does, but I am firmly ON my road, and have no intentions of entering this highway. Hmm...I am REALLY far West...I see the right lane turn into a "NORTH TO WEST PALM BEACH ONLY" lane. Okay, no biggie, I'm in the left lane.

And then, a huge sign over both the middle and left lanes announces:

LEFT TURN ONLY...SOUTH I-75 TO MIAMI

Ohmigodohmigohmigod. NO NO NO NO NO. Nononononononono! I think I literally said out loud, "Oh shit...and here we go!"

I hear my dad's voice in my head, "It'll never happen, but if you DO find yourself on a highway, just stay right, go 50, screw the others because they'll just pass you, and get off at the next exit. Just stay right."

Okayokayokayokay, I'mfineI'mfine. I see an exit coming right up. Awesome. I shoot my 45-mph car right toward it. And then, a split second before I'm about to get off, I focus in on the sign above the exit:

5-95 WEST TO NAPLES, ENTRANCE

(THIS IS A VERY BIG HIGHWAY WHOSE NEXT EXIT IS VERY VERY FAR AWAY)

"NO! NO! NO! NO! FUCK!!!!" I scream, swerve left, back onto I-75. I think I look for oncoming cars. I don't remember. Ohmigod, ohmigod. I am shaking, clutching the wheel so hard it hurts, and somehow, all the while, stoically singing Rent's "I'll Cover You" along with my CD player to keep myself calm. I numbly drive 50 mph to the next proper exit (which was the right one, actually, to get to my aunt's house), pull into a parking lot, and just kind of sit for a while. Shaking.

It CAN happen. I hate those big steel machines of doom. I am living in New York for the rest of my life.

Comments

  1. Ditto. To all that. I was trembling just reading it. And no one else understands!

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  2. That does sound frightening. Much more frightening than vomit nightmares -- I have trouble understanding those....

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  3. Just to be clear, Sheryl's not describing a nightmare. (Though we both have driving nightmares.) That actually happened to her yesterday.

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  4. Sheryl, I understand, and I am here for you. I understand so thoroughly that I still don't have a driver's license, and the last time I drove to the grocery store I almost cried, and refused to drive home. I also have nightmares about cars, but in my nightmares the scary part is that all of a sudden I've found myself driving. Like, not that a giant truck is coming at me, just, that holyshit, I let my guard down for a second and wound up driving. And, for the record, your fear is completely rational. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people our age.

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  5. Wusses. All of you.

    And yeah, public transit is soooooo safe:

    AP A P0699 MONORAIL CRASH, 1ST
    AP-MONORAIL CRASH, 1ST LD-WRITETHRU
    SEATTLE (AP) - John Gahagan was riding the monorail with his family when the sliding door was ripped off of their car, breaking a window and showering his two children with glass.

    The train had clipped the monorail's only other train on a curve Sunday evening, forcing the evacuation of 84 passengers from the mile-long, 43-year-old elevated line between downtown and the Seattle Center.
    _____________

    The answer is to never leave the house.

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  6. Yes, yes! In all of my dreams, I am suddenly somehow behind the wheel with no idea how I got there. They're so realistic that it's just not fair.

    Seattle has a monorail?? How Magic Kingdom.

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  7. I have several comments to make anonymously.
    First, Sheryl, I am very impressed with your narrative. Though I do not suffer from a (rational or ir-)fear of automobiles, highways, driving, etc., I did feel the terror you described very deeply as I was reading your little piece here--much more truly than I would have if, say, I had been in the car with you. Although I am a firm believer that a lack of confidence is the number one cause of bad driving. But that's debatable, I guess, given the driving records of some people we know. Anyway, nice job storytelling.
    Second, Michael, let's not use any incidents on the (existing) Seattle monorail as examples of public transit being safe, unsafe, or anything else at all. Anybody who takes the monorail seriously as a form of public transportation has obviously never been to either Seattle or any other (real) city. The monorail, as you alluded, goes from the Seattle Center (i.e., the Space Needle, Key Arena, and a few other useless buildings in that vicinity) to a mall downtown (which nobody has any business going to a mall, especially not one downtown). The monorail covers about a mile of track and is universally recognized as an extension of the Space Needle--that is, an object created for the sole use of tourists.
    Third, car accidents are very safe. I have never been hurt in one, whereas I trip and walk into things and hurt myself walking around the house all the damn time.
    Fourth and finally, since I've already written seven thousand words today and I need to just shut up already, and even more because I forgot the one or two other points I had to make and now I'm just blabbing:;--, (I forget which) is simply to say that this is an anonymous post and any theory you may have about its author's identity would be disconfirmed by the frequency of parentheses in this, as compared with the hypothetical author's other writings, which lack what the hell am I talking about? Did you ever think I'd start to smell like coffee? It's unbelievable. It's worse than smoke in a bar (which won't be legal in another week or so, yay!). I never even thought I'd drink coffee. I thought I'd be firm about that. Now I'm just like everybody else. Except that everybody else is a racist. I've never written this many words without entering my word count into a spreadsheet. At least, not since like maybe August or something. Good night, golfers.

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  8. Awww, Scotter started reading the blog. I knew reading his stuff would pay off.

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  9. I love cars and own many of them. Too many actually.

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  10. I understand your fears!

    I help many fearful drivers overcome driving fears...

    If I may post this URL, take a look and you'll see that not only can I help you eliminate your fears, but that you can rather quickly become more skilled than the average driver on the road!

    http://www.rushhourrelief.com/fearofdriving.html

    Hunter

    p.s. FYI Do you know that much of what we are taught about driving from DriversEd, society and the NEWS actually creats most driving fears?!

    ReplyDelete

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