I have to start out by confessing that most of my life I’ve been a uh… skittish (ie: nervous/chicken) driver/passenger. I attribute this to the fact that when I was 17 I flipped a car (miraculously no major injuries). But once you’ve seen how quickly things can happen – it can leave you feeling a lot more vulnerable. Right??
So several years ago my life changed dramatically and driving became a much larger part of my day. I realized I had to go to work on my anxiety… okay maybe OCD issues…. OK, OK – maybe control issues in general – alright! I admit it… anyways! Stop distracting me from my story. 🙂
This also became shockingly apparent when Maddison was 16 and needed extra practice behind the wheel. We quickly realized that my screaming/stomping a pretend break on the passenger side/white knuckled frantic clutch of the dashboard/muttering “Oh Jesus!” wasn’t helping her but rather making her MORE nervous.
Who came to the rescue? Marcus. Yes, I’m not particularly proud of myself to say that it was my blind husband, the same one who survived that awful crash when he was 18, that was actually the one to spend hours in the car with Maddison, patiently and gently instructing her in the finer points of driving. Even coming up with a creative and fun way to teach my slightly directionally challenged daughter right from left.
So if you didn’t already realize this – Marcus rocks dude! Daredevil has nothing on him! (Sorry – geek moment!)
Ok, so back to my story.
NYC Taxi’s have a very harsh reputation. But much to my surprise (and my husbands great relief!) I have found myself very, very comfy in the back of a cab. It’s quiet miraculous when you think of it – I mean we’re often on roads created for four lanes of traffic with five cars sharing the space, missing each other by the merest of fractions! All while watching out for tourist who are taking pictures while they walk, teenagers who are texting while they walk, bicycle and scooter drivers attempting to squeeze in between – I’ve really come to believe what the NYC Taxi commissioner says, “NYC has some of the safest drivers in the world.” You HAVE to be – to stay that alert and have those instant reflexes!
And I’ve even gotten used to the yelling at one another and constant honking! Yes – I am turning into a real New Yorker! But I had the absolute worst of the worst car rides recently. One where I’m still shaking as I think about it.
I had an appointment on the other side of town and after consulting our formula’s we decided taxi was better/more economical than the subway for where I needed to go. Okay cool. I get in the cab and realize within 15 seconds I’m in the wrong car. Why? He asked me exactly where I was going. In detail. Now, you might not know this, but here, you jump in a cab, give him the cross streets and before you can close the door you’re on the way. He get’s the details as it gets closer. Not this guy. He very, very slowly wants to know everything – including what side of the road the building is on. In retrospect, that first minute in the car I should have asked him to pull over, paid, gotten out and ran for my life to the next taxi. Why? Because a full minute later we were still on the same block we started from!
I can only guess he was new – very very very new. And that taxi driving will not be a long career move for him. He was absolutely terrified. He flinched, and crept along. He didn’t know how to judge space and make room for himself. He waited for openings to merge (hey buddy – they ain’t gonna get any bigger!)… He seemed terrified of getting hit. Not only where other drivers yelling and giving him the finger – I was about an inch away from pulling out my own southern version of cursing!
We arrived at my destination – it took well over twice the time it should have. My nerves were shot. I paid the guy, crawled on trembling legs out of the cab, walked over to the nearest garbage can and promptly threw up. It was that awful.
But you know – for days I’ve thought about that driver. As “scary” as it’s supposed to be in NYC with crazy cabbies darting in and out of traffic and honking and jerking around – it really is the “correct” way to in this city to survive. And being in the back of a cab like that – I’m comforted because they give assurance they know what they are doing. This guy – by trying so very hard to be careful… and allowing fear to dictate his manner… gave me the scariest ride I’ve ever experienced in the city.
Is there such a thing as TO careful? I’ve come to realize that I’ve been like that terrible driver quite often in my life. Too timid. Too intimidated. Too frightened. Too nervous. Too shy. Too afraid what someone might think. Too insecure. Too, too, too – to actually step up and do what I knew in my heart was the right thing – what I SHOULD be doing.
Courage is resistance to fear,
mastery of fear,
not absence of fear.
~ Mark Twain
Do you ever do that? Get afraid to step out into something new?
Don’t (PLEASE DON’T!) be like that driver.
Know your stuff – then go boldly forward.
I’ve come a long way – but that inner chicken does stick her head up every now and then. It’s my job to keep telling her who’s boss. And funny thing – the more I tell her – the quieter her voice becomes and the stronger my real voice becomes. I like that. And… so does Marcus! Peace y’all!