24 September 2008

Patience and fortitude, or "This is how I roll"

My Warwickshire Stagecoach Bus Pass. I'm a "Mega Rider," apparently.

As a New Yorker, I am no stranger to public transport. Contrary to what you see on "Sex & the City," public transport is the most reliable and often the quickest way of getting round the City. Like most New Yorkers I know, I happily sold my car, and lived on the subway. 
Public transport in England is another matter altogether.

The 2:07 PM bus to Warwick whizzed through Barford early today. I knew it would.  Even though the bus schedule (timetable), pinned up near the Joseph Arch pub states clearly and distinctly "Every hour on the hour at 7 minutes past," it really anybody's guess what time the bus will actually arrive! My routine journeys to Stratford-upon-Avon or Warwick (in the opposite direction) are life lessons in patience and fortitude.

The trip to Stratford, an easy, mindless 10 minute journey by car, becomes a half hour expedition, a daily act of faith, and a test of patience. Patience with the buses that arrive late, and depart early, if they come at all. I comfort myself with the thought that I am somehow being more 'green' and helping the environment...

What I should confess is that this sorry state of affairs is completely and utterly my choice.
In an effort to make this new life easier and more accessible for me, the D.E.B. traded in his sexy Subaru for a sensible, automatic Saab. Without having a stick-shift (gear-box) to contend with, went his line of thinking, I would feel more at ease behind the wheel. Not so. I am terrified. The Saab seems as big as a tank when I look at it. That, and the thought of taking to the road (and roundabouts) with the hordes of fierce English drivers, all going far too fast on the opposite of the road is more than my mind and bravery can take!
Of course, this should not be, given that I actually learned to drive in England in the first place! I know, it makes no sense at all. While I was living in England as a grad student, I learned to drive. I needed to. I was a temp after all. And a temp without wheels is, well, pretty useless. And unemployable. So I learned to drive. I paid a dear amount of my non-existent money to not one, but two, different driving instructors. I screwed my courage to the sticking place, bit the bullet and took the British Driving Test. And I failed it, three times. One the first attempt I did not even make it out of the parking lot, but failed instantly, before the test even started by stalling the car, twice, before we could even get going. Needless to say, by the time I did pass the test, I was an immensely proficient and confident driver. Even now, I know in my heart I could do a three-point turn on a dime! And I can reverse park into a parking space, blindfolded. I had a British drivers license years before I ever bothered to even think of driving in America. (By contrast the American driving test is a joke! It is so ridiculously simple, a toddler could pass it.) Why then, am I paralyzed with fear thought of driving here again. Why then, am I relegating myself to the mercy and whim of Warwickshire's finest bus drivers? I don't know.
The excuse I give to the D.E.B. is that he needs the car more than I do, and that I'm used to public transport. We'll see how long that holds up once the weather takes a turn toward winter. 

The excuse I give myself is that I'd drive, if we had a smaller car. I'd feel more in control, and less overwhelmed. And less afraid. Well, there is it finally. I'm afraid. Maybe now that I've got that out, I can face that fear and do something about it.

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