Even though I was one of them people who got my Learner’s as soon as I could, I understand not everyone is or was in a position to be able to do that. But a lot of people would still like to get their driver’s license. I thought I would start off 2022 with an inspiring story about one of my friends, who wanted to get her driver’s license. And even though it may have taken almost 10 years to do it, she eventually achieved her goal.
So this story is for anyone who may be feeling discouraged about the whole process, and feeling like you may never “get there.”
So my friend, let’s call her Olivia to protect the innocent, and I met in grade 8, and are still friends today. Unfortunately, when she was a teenager, she had no one to teach her how to drive. So she just didn’t. Some people just don’t have parents or other people that are available.
In our early twenties, I became a driving instructor, but I wasn’t very good at it. Olivia and I were kind of on again, off again friends, where one of us would disappear, sometimes for a several years, only to resurface in the other’s life again. We both seemed to have experienced our newfound freedom in our twenties as highly exciting.
She went traveling across Canada with a boy, and returned pregnant. I believe that the “L” license didn’t expire for two years. So, every two years, like clockwork, I would hear from her, even if I hadn’t heard from her for a long time. “Carmy, I renewed my L again.”
“Cool.” I would casually respond. “Good.” While it’s true I was a driving instructor, I often went to college as well. This left me with very little free time to do things like teach my friends how to drive. But I always hoped that our schedules would one day magically align, or that someone else would magically teach her how to drive.
It really made me realize how hard it is to learn how to drive after you’ve left living with your parents. It’s very convenient to live with your parents, if that’s an option of course, and have them practice with you. After you become twenty-something and live on your own, it just seems that everyone is busy, including yourself.
For me, I was fortunate enough that I went to live with my other friends when I was an evil teenager, and their parents taught me how to drive standard. So I was very lucky to learn on both a large minivan and a small, standard car pretty much at the same time.
Olivia and I often talked about how we both wished she could learn how to drive and get her license, but the stars didn’t seem to be aligning.
Another two years went by, and casually, added onto the end of one of our conversations, “Carmy. I renwed my L!”
And my reply, again, “Oh! Good.”
Best friends know what the other one is saying without saying it. Why use so many words if you don’t have to? She was saying, she knew that I could teach her, and she would really like me to teach her, and she was ready for me to teach her, and she has a valid, current driver’s license for whenever I was ready to teach her, and she is waiting very, very patiently for me to be ready to teach her. And me, replying, of course, yes, I want to, but I don’t have time, and I have some other things going on that are distracting me, but I have not forgotten you.
Every time two years went by, she told me again, “I renewed my L.” I was rather fascinated at this girl who never gave up on the hope of getting her driver’s license, even though so many sets of two years kept going by.
Two more years went by… “I renewed my L!”
Two more years… “I renewed my L, again!”
Two more… “I renewed my L.”
And now, she was going to have a baby, which seemed like it would make things more complicated to me.
But, it was actually the thought of her having to take a bus, as a single mom, with a baby, to the grocery store, in the rain, and all of that, that inspired me to find the time to finally teach her how to drive. We were 28 or something, or definitely, almost 30.
I still had a busy schedule, but managed to make somewhat of a regular commitment to teach her how to drive. Since I was the only one doing it, it was a long process, with a lot of practice time that I wasn’t used to, being an instructor, and expecting people’s parents to do that part.
And of course, the baby was often in the back seat of the minivan she had bought. And for some curious reason, this baby, at times, enjoyed screaming at the top of his lungs while we were driving. And I don’t mean the cute kind. It sounded like this baby was flat out being murdered. Olivia said her sisters did that when they were babies, too, matter-of-factly, like it just ran in the family. At certain points, I was sure that Olivia would not be able to hear my voice if I had wanted to say something to her, so I kind of prayed that I wouldn’t need to, and there a few times driving across the Second Narrows Bridge that I had kind of wanted to, but it seems like we survived.
We kept practicing and learning driving as a slow process, even though it was still hard to find the time. But eventually, we did it. We booked her a road test at the Burnaby location, and we showed up for her N test. Olivia is a small, small girl, and showed up with a large, Ford Windstar minivan. It kind of looked like a little mouse trying to driving a tractor.
She was never very confident about her backing and parking skills, but most new drivers aren’t. I reassured her that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be safe, and you kind of have to park the car on the road test, but you are not being timed with a stop watch, so it’s good if you can try to relax. I know that is easier said than done.
I waited in the waiting area, thinking about my friend and how much of an independent woman she was. And not being able to remember a person that simply refused to give up on the idea of getting her driver’s license, even though it felt like ten years had gone by. And how polite she was in her methods of gingerly asking me to teach her how to drive, once every two years.
I saw her come back to the parking lot and attempt to reverse park into the space. She looked a little bit like a 98 year old that had never driven a car. The van was moving painfully slowly. And it went forwards and backwards a few times. And it stopped rather far away from the end of the parking spot.
I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. She had turned into a good, safe driver, but the parking part, I wasn’t sure about. I saw her minivan in the parking spot when she was done. It was pretty crooked, and partly on one of the yellow lines. However, she came inside and told me that she had passed, and I was pretty ecstatic. Now, she could be even more of an independent woman, and not have to haul her baby onto a bus.
The examiner had said she was good, but just to continue to practice her parking.
Since then, it has been wonderful to see the many places she has driven and chosen to go with her newfound driver’s license, including living in beautiful, rural areas in British Columbia where there are no bus routes.
So even if you don’t have a friend that is a driving teacher, you can still “renew your L” and get ready to learn how to drive, or whatever the case may be, as you just never know what kind of person may show up in your life who may be able to help you achieve your goals.
I didn’t know I would be kicked out of the house as an evil teenanger. But I also didn’t know that this would give me a wonderful new opportunity to be adopted by an amazing family, and that this family would teach me how to drive on a standard car. Otherwise, I would not have been able to learn that skill.
My sister and brother, too, both did not get their “N” until being almost 30 years old. It’s a lot more common than you might think. Some people get their drivers license right away, and some people get it when they’re ready, and some people get it when they can. But never lose hope, because you can achieve your goals, too, even if it may take a while. Good things come to those who never give up; I have seen it with my own eyes.