Strife For The Sake Of Strife

I have a British passport and a British husband. The next thing I need to add to my collection is a British driving license. Here's the thing. In the U.K. there are two types of licenses – an 'automatic' one and a 'manual' one – if you take the driving test on a car with an automatic transmission then you cannot drive a manual car (legally). 

If you were bleeding to death and the only thing that stood between us and the emergency room was a car with a stick shift, I could probably get you there in one piece. But it wouldn't be pretty. I've had two friends try to teach me how to drive stick in parking lots and sparsely populated areas, so I sort of know how to do it. But without ever driving a manual for more than a few hours at a time, I'm not very good.

So the question is: when I learn how to drive on the left side of the road in a foreign country and have to take a driving test for the first time since I was 17, should I just go the whole hog and learn how to drive a manual properly?

I've been asking a lot of people this question and a lot of people have been telling me yes. It will be so much cheaper to rent cars, they say, and the gas mileage is so much better.

And there's that part of me that loves a challenge. I'm not sure what it is I'm trying to prove, but I think it goes along with all the things we do to try to make ourselves feel happier, including accomplishing more. And there's nothing wrong with a challenge, right?

This past Saturday one of my (very smart and lovely) friends said to me over a few cups of coffee: "What, are you crazy? You have a full-time job, plus all the socializing you do, not to mention your blog and what about all those projects you want to get done?" Besides, she said, changing gears all the time is annoying. "Why we don't all drive automatics in Britain is beyond me."

(I'm paraphrasing somewhat – I don't usually take notes when I'm out with my friends.)

I want to get my license to make my life easier. At some point we may want a car (the Hub doesn't drive, which is a whole other story I won't go into). I already have to learn the rules of the road in another country at the age of 35, not to mention orient myself to drive on the other side of the street. There's no reason to make this harder, considering how precious the time is that we each have on this earth.

I think at some point I created a story in my head that the more that I accomplish, the more skills I acquire, the more things I know, the more satisfied I will be – someday, that is. But when does it all end? Will I someday do enough to be enough?

But I'm onto my thinking now. I know its wily tricks. I may need to learn how to drive at the moment, but I don't need to learn how to drive a manual. Instead of making my life more difficult, the current plan is to just enjoy learning how to drive, without the extra stress. Sometimes life is tough – and sometimes we make it tough.

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  1. I really had to laugh out loud on reading this--I went through the same thing, at the age of 49! Had Tim not hurt his knee the story may have played out differently, but he too now drives an automatic all the time (tho he keeps his hand in by occasionally driving his mum's stick-shift). I think I wanted to learn manual driving to simply fit in, but after a few fits and starts--literally--I'm simply happy that I am a UK driver and don't feel I took the easy way out by forgoing the manual for the automatic! PS I failed the first time--didn't do a good enough job with "mirror, signal, mirror" and failed for "observation"! Nailed it the second time, though.

    1. I am in awe that you've already done it and are a UK driver. I am sure we will be sharing some stories over the coming months as I go through this!

  2. Taron...Take the test for the manual. When you stall in the middle of a busy intersection or roll back and tap the car behind you during your test you'll have another intersting blog post. If you pass, you'll have an interesting blog post. This isn't about learning new skills, it is about new experiences. Nobody wants to read about how you passed a run of the mill road test at age 35.


    1. Don't worry, I am sure that the stories will be sufficiently good even with the automatic lessons and test. I seem to attract hijinx no matter what so will do my best to keep you entertained.

    2. PS It took me a second to figure out who you were but then I realized and there was no doubt in my mind who had written the comment! Thanks for reading!


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