April 30, 2004
I had to wait a little longer than usual to get my Driving License. If you know of any precedences where people of considerable drawbacks got one you know how the system works in US. Personal preferences, prejudice, cultural misunderstandings and uptight behavior, day-light saving and strict adherence to rules and what not, but safety. I didn’t face any such situations although I had a feeling I wasn’t paid enough attention for my skills. I failed my license test the first time I tried, amplified by a little mishap.
I brushed, an over-protruding heavy sized vehicle parked end-to end to the slot where I was instructed to park in a matter of few seconds. While I had been informed by my trainer *in the test* I can park anywhere I wanted, it changed real-time just at the end of my 45 minute driving, with reasonably good driving. So other mistakes the lady examiner had enlisted involved a minor over crossing of a white line where you are supposed to stop. A lane change where I didn’t look over my shoulder although I had just made a right turn in a cross T and had seen that there was nothing coming behind in any of the lanes in a wide open area. I had used my right signals but I didn’t remember Virginia is not only for lovers but also for back lookers.
I was done. I had to wait for another semester before I could practice and take another test. The old trainer who I accidentally met in the Library after several months was a compassionate senior citizen and he three quartered my charge. (I still remember his name, Mr Gerlind, to this date in 2010, may be I will write a story, how he trained me to be such a good driver. He is also a senior citizen and enjoyed two cheese burgers for every one he paid for) I learned hard again and got the license this time. It was then an exciting idea to go for a long drive.
I called up a rental car company in Radford. I was picked up to the Walmart where they had a cabin. I picked up a Chrysler as my choice was not available. I was conned of some money as they didn’t tell me of the unlimited driving mileage which I realized later upon my return and they had no answers for it. The best they could do for me was to send the beautiful lady working there, to give me a ride back to my place. That was quite a date. She said she had graduated from Tech and she is from Maryland.
When she drove through the forests I had some romantic crush on her. I was staying in Hotel Holiday Inn and upon learning that, she asked me about Latitude, the hotels bar. I said it sounds to be good, I haven’t been there. It didn’t proceed any further, I don’t know why. Later I tried the bar and it was good, but not like other bars in the locality, filled with young people and noisy.
I had a map with me and I wanted to visit friends in Ohio. I wanted to drive to Cincinnati which was 7, 8 hours drive from where I was staying. It was 4 pm and I wanted to drive as much as I can before sun sets since it was my first long drive. I pulled up the Chrysler from the parkin lot onto the highway, near Radford, but immediately found myself in a pickle. I didn’t know where I was driving, to the east or west and I am moving.
Very shortly I realized I am driving on the wrong side, I saw a police post and immediately pulled up. I asked the lady at the counter if she can give me directions to I-81 N. I was on the highway but I wasn’t sure until I drove around for couple of hours and everything I saw on highway matched with everything on the map [take a right onto exit xxx and so on] Once I knew I am doing things alright I sped up and continued confidently. This was my first time and with that sheet of paper I made it successfully to Cincinnati.
Once inside the city I couldn’t locate my exit and drove past it for another 10 miles or so, knowing all these time I am going farther. I pulled out and asked in a convenient store. Things became more complicated and I lost my sense of the city. So I asked at another store and upon following the directions probably mistakenly reached in a remote forest like area. I didn’t see any houses or people and continued on the roller coaster streets more and more into the forest.
So I decided next time I see people I am going to pull out and ask for directions. I saw a few houses, after I continued for a while I saw few people standing. The streets were not very well lit but there was enough hope for me. I didn’t want to drive back without being able to locate my destination so close to where I am at.
So I got off my car, saw few African American women standing there. I would have usually called them Black women without understanding what is wrong with it. We call white people white, Latinos Latin, Hispanics Hispanic, Brahmans Brahmans, Jews Jews and so on and we even make slurs and jokes about all of them while thats not acceptable how is calling the Black people African American going to make it sound non-racial? Are they all of African origin?
I had made good friends with few black people as soon I had I arrived in US. I had a friend named Mavis in my class and she was so cheerful and friendly. Of-course the day she spent $200 on making that special hairdo it became a story. And I remember it, how else it would be a story, we can not make up stories. Gosh we can make up science, Alan Sokal effect , any one.
Back onto my driving mishap, I walked up to the girls and told them my situation. “I have been driving from Virginia for last 6 hours, its 10 pm and I can’t drive back again. My friends live here in the CU campus. If any of you can come with me and help me locate them I can give you a ride back. ” They said they study in a nearby college and they would know the place. So I showed them my DL and school ID.
Once they believed me enough and usually I look innocent, they agreed and came with me. When I arrived at my friends house they were stunned to see me. I hadn’t informed them to surprise them and now they see me with so many obvious strangers. I explained them the situation of how I lost my direction and again made it back and I had to take help from somebody. I found another friend who could go with me to give the helpful girls a ride back and come back with me before I lose my direction again.
That was quite an adventure.