Today was my first driving lesson and I could not have wished for a better start to the day than a torrential morning downpour. I was thinking to myself how I’d struggle helplessly later on with the rain pouring like that, poorer visibility and slippery roads clearly won’t be aiding my maiden experience behind the wheel. Thankfully the skies cleared up by the time I left the house, but the nerves have already set in.
My instructor’s name is Mr Sam. He drives an apple green (observed by my Dad) Nissan Sunny, which I will attempt to become best friends with during the course of my practical driving lessons. Mr Sam started me off with familiarizing with the most fundamental aspects of the car: the clutch, the brake, the accelerator, the gear box and the steering wheel. He got me to do some exercises involving pressing down and releasing the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals, as well as maneuvering the gear box in transmissions 1 to 4. Then he coached me into familiarizing with the clutch’s “biting point”, when the car will start to edge forward. After a few of seconds, he got me to gently touch the brake to halt the car and I repeated this a couple of times. I thought he’d turn me around when we were at the end of our secluded single lane two-way road. It is only now that I realize my driving journey had begun upon his instruction to make a left turn.
I was already “on the road” some what during my very first lesson, something I didn’t expect at all given that I begun the lesson with stationary coordination exercises. I couldn’t understand Mr Sam’s speech and hand signals sometimes, and I wasn’t helped by my eyes being peeled at what was ahead of me. I now realize too that I hardly looked left and right while I was driving, only doing so when Mr Sam reminded me to. Thankfully I had the learner “L” plate which persuade experienced drivers to give way to me, or as my parents corrected, avoid me. Phew.
I stalled my new friend on the road about 3 or 4 times today, to the ire of Mr Sam. He wasn’t exactly angry I suppose, I was a first time learner after all. But I could tell that he wanted me to be able to pick up the skills well and fast, for my benefit. I’m still pretty slow at changing up and down transmissions, and especially slow at coordinating between the clutch and accelerator pedals. “Always let go of the clutch THEN press the accelerator” Mr Sam would remind me. I definitely still need to find my feet (literally), learn how to position both feet such that I can transition smoothly between clutch and accelerator. Not forgetting to shift the gear lever when I need to up my speed as well. (In fact, a lot of times Mr Sam simply asked me to press down the clutch pedal while he shifted gears for me. He probably knew I was too nervous.)
Looking back on the hour or so with the man and the green car, it was pretty fun. Although I had some tense moments when suddenly I was in more traffic than I expected to be in and when we had to pass a road works in another single lane two-way road, I was quite excited to drive, albeit slowly and at a crawling pace and jerking pattern. Note to self: brake and accelerator pedals are delicate things. DON’T PRESS DOWN TOO HARD.
Oh and Uniqlo had a pretty good deal for socks today: 4 for $7.90! Now I’m thinking I should’ve bought 4 more.