Adventures In Driving: The First Day Of The Hire Car

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Adventures In Driving: The First Day Of The Hire Car

I passed my driving test in February 2016 and ever since that day my “driving life” has been full of adventures misadventures.

As soon as I passed my test I ordered up a brand new car, which I’ll talk about in another post, but it wasn’t to be ready for a week or two. However, It was suggested to me that I should get behind the wheel as soon as possible. So – I hired a car!

I’m not sure if the company I hired the car from should have actually let a brand new driver hire on of their cars or not but  – who cares, right? I had temporary wheels!

Greg drove me to the hire place, I got all the paperwork done and the assistant done the quick intro and checks of the car. Greg then got back into his car.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

It finally hit me that I would be in a car, driving, with no instructor, no backup controls and no one to guide me!

I pleaded with Greg to stay with me but by that time we were already getting funny looks from the staff and he didn’t think it would be a good idea to leave his car there while we both drove off in the hire car.

I HAD TO GO IT ALONE

We agreed that I should at least drive the car, on my own, up to the nearby supermarket car park and from there Greg could get in with me and we could go on a little drive together.

Greg drove off. I got in the car.

I started to get myself ready. I put on my “driving shoes”, I put on my glasses, I took off my glasses and gave them a clean, I got some chewing gum – I basically done everything I could think of doing in order to delay the actual driving part of being in a car.

I was aware, perhaps just my imagination, of everyone in the hire office watching me thinking what the hell is this guy doing? I had to go! I had to just “suck it up” and get on my way.

I made sure I knew where all the controls I would need in the short journey between there and the supermarket were. Sod the window wipers and the windscreen de-mister button – it wasn’t raining and it was cold as fuck. I started the car and made the car move to the exit.

Now, all I had to do was turn left, while crossing the road and then it was pretty much a straight road to the supermarket. I applied the left indicator and waited for a space to join the traffic. Usually, indicators just make a kind of ticking noise but, on this occasion, as I was crossing over the road there was also an extra noise that sounded like “fuck, fuck, fuck”.

Oh no, wait – that was me!

I did successfully join the traffic and I was on my, not so merry, way. I had actually walked this route many times but it’s crazy how different everything is when you are driving it for the first time. Pedestrians don’t do traffic lights, pedestrians don’t do roundabouts, being a pedestrian is great! This time I wasn’t a pedestrian. I had to do the traffic lights, I had to do the roundabouts and despite my fears I did do them. I thought for a minute, I’m no pedestrian and I’m still great. I was shitting myself, but I was doing it – I was driving on my own!

I got to the supermarket car park without hitting any shopping trolleys, shopper’s cars or, I guess, more importantly – actual shoppers. I saw Greg’s car and quickly performed “Steve Parking” (more on that later). I turned off the engine and breathed a huge sigh of relief!

It’s still kind of a blur what happened next but basically we went for a short drive around the local area, which again was an area I knew very well, but driving it was a whole new world!

It was scary. I’ve never said the word c**t so much in my life. Greg was very patient (and pretty much holding on to his seat for his life) but I did it and I got over that first driving hurdle!

After returning to the car park the next task/chore/fucking nightmare situation was to drive home and to do that via Greg’s mum’s house.

One thing immediately came to the front of my mind…

THE HAUDIGAUN

Anyone who has ever been to Aberdeen will know this “roundabout” – its one of the worst in Scotland and is, to this very day, still my nemesis! Luckily it was a Sunday and traffic was quieter so my screaming while going around the roundabout was also quieter! It wasn’t so much a case of “scream if you want to go faster” but more like “scream just when you go”.

Another achievement!

However, nothing in my “driving life” goes smooth so even although Greg had told me what to do once I got on the dual carriageway and what lane to go in he hadn’t realised that due to all the works going on for the bypass that the lane he had told me to stay in all the way…

…was closed!

Well, oh my god! I had traffic cones with flashing tops coming at me left, right and centre and I had to adjust lanes last-minute real quick. Wasn’t there warning signs, you might ask? Yeah probably – but how was I supposed to see them when I’m gripping the steering wheel as if my life depended on it and had my face pressed up against the windscreen like Mr Magoo and focussing only on the scary cars in front of me. At least I now realised what my rear view and side mirrors were actually for.

Here’s a question…

Is it just me or when you are learning to drive – do you just look at the mirrors because you know you have to and realistically there could be a UFO pulling up beside you and it wouldn’t actually register with you so long as it looks like you’ve looked. Because, obviously if there was something wrong then your driving instructor warns you and grabs the steering wheel?

Just me? Surely not!

I quickly learned their real purpose and I changed lanes safely whilst avoiding any projectile flashing traffic cone incidents.

From then on  it was a reasonable drive until I got to Greg’s mum’s house where you have to park on the street I.e. parallel parking. Which, in itself was fine as I had done that particular manoeuvre heaps of times during my driving lessons and I got quite good at it. Good at it that is when I was parking on the left side of the street. I drove into Greg’s mum’s street and her house was on my right. Wtf? Why would you have a house on my right hand side when I only know how to parallel park on the left side. So, so, so inconsiderate of you Greg’s mum!

Anyway, after carrying on driving for almost an entire mile and then doing a “100 point turn” next to a farmhouse just so I could come back down Greg’s mum’s street and parallel park on the right hand side i went into Greg’s mum’s house to be greeted by a sarcastic round of applause.

Usually when we go to Greg’s mum’s house, Greg was the driver, I was just the passenger and his mum loved making sure I had a big glass of wine which never really runs dry.

“Nice glass of wine, Steve?”

“Shit yeah, I need one after that experience….oh, hang on…NOOOOOOoooooo, I have to still drive home”

To say I was gutted is an understatement! The coffee I got instead might as well been a cup full of dog shit – that’s just the way I was feeling.

Time went by and before we knew it, it was almost 3 o’clock. It was February in Scotland which meant darkness was coming. I looked out the window and my usual, normal thought of “oh it’s getting dark”, this time came with almost a billion alarm bells!

Driving. Dark. My Full beams. Where’s the switch? Blinded by other full beams. Deers on the road. Clowns (well perhaps not clowns then – but yeah fucking clowns if it was today!). We had to leave now! It was now a case of getting home before the sun went down. There was nothing romantic about driving off into this sunset – it was literally “I’m going to beat you, you bastard”. Anti-vampire driving at its finest!

The final part of the journey was reasonably uneventful and I got home safely. Greg has an electric car so his car has to go in the driveway so it can charge, the garage is full of shit so no cars get in there so I had to park in another space. I drove in to the space, stopping when I hit the kerb (that’s what you do when you’re parking and have no parking sensors, right?)

I’m not quite sure I even made it past the garden before I had a very large, very deserved and very quickly refilled glass of wine!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of “Adventures In Driving”!

What about you? Share your driving stories with me.

Steve McSteveface on Twitter

Adventures In Driving: The First Day Of The Hire Car

43 thoughts on “Adventures In Driving: The First Day Of The Hire Car

  1. Oh man, what an adventure! You totally deserved that glass of wine– and innumerable refills!! 😉 I HATE parallel parking, so I feel your pain. It takes me about 17 tries, and then I usually give up and try to find a different (bigger) sport. I am a notoriously bad driver and am the passenger as often as possible. Can’t wait to read more about your driving adventures!

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  2. I always find it odd how late people learn to drive in the UK- I had my full license at 16 here in Canada. However, then I remember that I had all of these thoughts (And so, so many more) as an idiot 16 year old and I think maybe the UK has the right idea haha! Great post!

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  3. OMG That could have been me. I got my driver’s license in high school and it has now been decades since I drove. Had to pump the gas when starting. I keep getting it renewed (joke on them) and it looks good in my wallet!

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    1. Pump gas? Wow. He first time I had to fill up with has I opened the bonnet by accident and couldn’t get it closed. I’m sure the people in the garage thought I was crazy

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  4. This is hilarious! I too, have an issue with roundabouts – they are relatively new in my neck of the woods so my 18 years of driving don’t help when there’s a merri-go-round of cars coming at you! I give you credit for taking on the haudagain – that looks terrifying! I also loved the visual of you “riding off into the sunset”. Can’t wait to read more Adventures in Driving!

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    1. Thanks Emily! Luckily these days I don’t need to take on the Haudigan however there are now other things such as Muggiemoss and The Parkway both just as scary!

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  5. Hilarious! It’s funny how driving is different in different countries. I know that in the UK and Europe there’s a lot more use of public transportation and often adults have never driven. In the States we start at 16.

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  6. I’m still getting used to the differences between driving (and getting driver’s licenses) in Europe vs. the states. While it’s common to get cars and wreak havoc as soon as we turn 16, it’s not uncommon for friends here to make their first attempt at 30.
    However, after driving here for a few months, I think I can see why 😉

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  7. Too funny! Steve, I passed 4th time, and it was 2 weeks before my wedding! The first timeI took my car out alone… was on a 3 hour journey from Birmingham to my new home of Kent! But I had my Pops to follow, so if I managed to be totally stupid, he was on hand to sort things out!

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      1. Lol! I kinda HAD to pass as it’s a b*tch of a journey back and forth on public transport ti Birmingham, and I wasn’t going to be kept away from my parents! And Hubby hadn’t passed his test either so one of us NEEDED to drive! In fact, he was learning as I was pregnant with my First. And I made pregnant lady threats to him to pass before I went into labour…. because there was no way I was getting my father in law to drive me when I was at the crux of baby delivery time!
        It worked, thank God!

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  8. Love this! The first time I had a hire car (for work) I waited for the guy to explain everything to me…where the lights were, where the windscreen wipers were, how to I get into reverse (oh right, I have to lift this little knob on the gearstick?) And the all important…how the hell do you open the fuel cap? But no, he just wandered off, leaving me and the car on a busy street in the middle of Birmingham…

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      1. Epic fail. The first time I drove my own new car home it was in ‘sports’ mode unbeknown to me. Imagine me driving around all those country roads like a racing driver and to this day I still wonder how I got home without flying off into a field.

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    1. Hmmmm – if I answered like this ‘well yesterday I veered off the side of the road and drove in a ditch for a little while and there was dust flying everywhere’ would that give you an answer LOL

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  9. Horrendous in a funny sort of way.. well very funny sort of way Steve. I drove at 17 but did not take my test until 27.. in Wales – in a small town with no traffic lights or roundabouts.. For my last two lessons we had to drive to the county town where there were road works and therefore traffic lights..My driving instructor used to ge me to pick him up at the pub! I passed first time..that was 36 years ago this augutst and I have driven all over the world. including taking a compulsory test in Texas in 86 where the tester was an armed police officer with a gun! I love driving now.. practice and enjoy… find some wonderful parts of the highlands and get away from the towns.

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    1. Thanks! You’re driving instructor sounds like he knew what he was doing. I can’t imagine taking driving lessons with no roundabouts – you were so lucky! Congratulations for passing first time!

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      1. My sister’s partner was the worst. 17 attempts to pass. We honestly thought about buying him a tricycle as a joke.

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      2. Me? I still can’t even drive. I was 30 (or so) lessons in when my instructor said to me during a lesson “turn the car around, you need to go back the way you came” so I thought to myself “cool, seems easy enough”. The road was pretty clear so I reversed the car into the driveway of a local shop but I went too far back. The bumper of the car came off. I just looked at the instructor and said “was that bumper stuck on with chewing gum?” you can imagine what his face was like. In a very thick Belfast accent he said “you can get the faak out of my car and walk home”… and that’s what I did. I also never took lessons after that. Real talk. I still have a giggle about it to this day.

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