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How I Learned (Why I'll Never Learn) To Drive

I have a disturbing little secret. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s not the sort of thing you reveal until at least the third date. I am 22 years old and cannot drive.

My top three biggest issues with  not having a license are: 1) you’re completely dependent on the kindness of your parents and friends to get you places; forget about ever feeling like a remotely competent human adult 2) you lose a boatload of money on cabs-conversely, you get to become friends with cab drivers, 3) you have to carry around your passport if you want to get into a bar; in case this was not completely obvious, alcohol and pocket-sized government forms of identification are a TERRIBLE mix.

However, I’ve come to realize that it’s not my fault that I can’t drive: it’s in my genes. The simple fact is I descend from a long maternal line of female non-drivers; we’re three generations of anti-feminist car jokes.

Let’s start with Grandma Hazel. Her husband, a World War II navigator who guided plans with failing engines over the Atlantic and safely landed them outside of Nazi territory, tried super hard to teach her how to drive, but to no avail. Grandma Hazel claims she was very close to passing her exam, but sped up and got nervous at the end because she really needed to go to the bathroom. I pretty much believe this, since the weak bladder has been passed down my maternal line, as well.

Then, there is my mom, who can actually drive, but prefers almost any activity less excruciating than a double root canal to the act of driving. My mother spent the first twenty some odd years of her life residing in places where she had no need for driving. Then, in 1987, she persuaded my dad that they should ditch their apartment in the Village and move to the suburbs (and what a swell idea that was) and her public transportation world caved in on her. She was a trooper, navigating the suburbs without the ability to drive and with two kids in tow – and let the record state these were two kids that did not like walking! I don’t know if this is the official straw that broke the camel’s back, and thereby paralyzed her last form of non-automobile transportation, but not being able to drive my dad to the ER when he fell down our stairs and broke his wrist was a likely factor in her learning to drive.

And learn she did! She practiced with my father and her father and she passed the road test. Yet, while New York State has faith in her driving abilities, she does not. My mother drives really well, but driving with her is like taking out a loan from Bank of America; there are lots of restrictions and hidden fees. She does not drive on highways, outside of Southern Westchester or in parking garages.  If you want to go to the mall, be prepared to park at least two kilometers away and hoof it.<

I am currently trying to reverse the female familial trend by taking driving lessons with a kind Portuguese senior citizen named Cyro who is encouraging, if dubious, of my vehicular potential. A person of average, baseline driving capacity could have passed the road test at least two to three times with all the hours and lessons of practicing I’ve had. However, the undeniable truth of the matter is that when it comes to driving, I am all thumbs.

Literally. Please, get out of my way if you see me attempting a three-point turn.

You can read more from Emily Suzanne Shire on her blog.

Feature image via.

  • Christina Martinez

    You and I have the same issue..but I’m older….like 31. My mom was very strict with us and often told us of the horrific things that can happen in cars…like pictures of people mangled in car accidents…harsh I know but I would have rather had the “no sex” talk. That’s what it boiled down to, you go out, you get pregnant and I’m a grandma before 40. Now I have terrible anxiety about being in a car and every time I’ve “tried” to drive it’s been a scary situation. Maybe before I’m 40?

  • Crystal Renaud

    I am 27 and a non-driver as well. No shame.

  • Angela Villarreal

    i just got my license two days ago and i am also 22! it wasn’t as hard as i thought it would be. good luck!!

  • Yera Rangel

    Im 23 and I can not drive either! I am in your shoes.

  • Megan Ford

    I didn’t get my license until I was 20 and my whole life changed. I was finally able to be the adult I was supposed to be.

  • Erin Aliquo

    18 and no driving for me! I’m putting it off as long as I can.

  • Tashween Ali

    Barba Walters and I (23) can’t drive either. I was pretty embarrassed about it until someone once told me that strong women are driven :)

  • Melissa Forand Boulerice

    Being in a car relaxes me and consequently makes me sleepy. I am 26 and still without my license. Luckily for me I have a great boyfriend who drives :)

  • Dawn Ⓥ Slawta

    30-years-old and no license. mumbles something about cars being stupid and WALKS away…

  • Sara Stefanelli

    I’m gonna be 22 in September and I got my license in May.
    No shame in being a non driver, though I am so proud of myself now that I finally did it!
    And I continue to be a total disaster when in the driving seat… 😉

  • Victoria Flynn

    I’m 19 and it took 3 tests for me to pass. Driving is hard, man!

  • Maryam Rachidi

    25. My uncle traumatized me when he tried to teach me, I live in places with good public transport to avoid learning.

  • Britt Bulens

    It’s hilarious that “a kind Portuguese senior citizen named Cyro” is teaching you how to drive right now. You really need to get your license! Life will be so much easier! Good luck!!

  • Kimberly Block

    I totally feel for you. I know what’s it’s like to feel totally dependent and incompetent. I just got my license at 21. And it’s not fair to assume that driving is for everyone. It ought to be considered some kind of handicap. Don’t pressure yourself.

  • Kelly Chapman

    While I got my license out of necessity at 21 (had to drive 40 minutes away to student teach!), my mom is 50 and still hasn’t gotten hers. No need to worry!

  • Jenna-Leigh Baez

    We’re actually the same person!! But I’m 21. I have the same issues by not having a license. (especially the carrying around government forms of ID to get a damn beer) However, i signed up for drivers ed in 2 weeks. Looks like we’ll be taking this journey together! Good luck!

  • Annie Paul

    Oh I love your mom already. : ) Got my license at 18, and today, a few years later, I choose NOT to drive if I can. And when I have to, I also avoid freeways and tight parking spots because I’m not a great parker. Thankfully I still live at home, so my parents and friends are gracious enough to give me rides. But don’t think you HAVE to drive; don’t feel pressured b/c that’ll make it worse. Instead, let’s embrace our non-driving and enjoy our healthier driving alternatives and the fact that we’re not helping to burn off our ozone layer.

  • Alicia Gray

    Can we start a club?? I finally had to give in and get one in the last few years, but even WITH a license I never drive unless I absolutely have to. I was in Los Angeles for three years and only drove to the grocery store! I feel like I should have gotten it at 16 so it wouldn’t scare the living daylights out of me today. I always think something is going to go wrong … and still do. I’m even going to a hypnotherapist to help my fears. It will take time, but we will ALL do it with pride.

  • Lily Lopez

    I’m 22 and don’t have a license! I know how to drive, I just don’t have a car and therefore have no need for a license right now. But I understand about the whole issue of having to rely on the kindness of others for rides. However, to help me cope with this, I just thank God for his provision and love through others’ kindness. So good has come of it! I’m surprised though to see how all of you around my age don’t have one either. This makes me feel much better! lol

  • Tessa DuRocher

    I just turned 21 and do have a license and technically know how to drive. But like you I am all thumbs about it. I know the concept of driving, but alas when I do it I freak out and fumble all over the place…
    So, yes you are not alone. Part of it is that I’m terrified of it…I know how dangerous of a weapon a car is and while I trust myself, to some degree, I don’t trust the other drivers on the road…

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