My Love-Hate Relationship with Driving

Yesterday my blogging friend, Patti Jarrett, commented on my post that traffic going across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel signaled summer here in Virginia Beach. She is so right, and that made me think about my aversion to driving in traffic, and my aversion to driving in general. It wasn’t always that way.

When I was growing up in Connecticut,  teenagers had to wait thirty days after their sixteenth birthday before they could get their driver’s license. That was because they couldn’t even get behind the wheel of a car until they were sixteen, and the thirty days was to allow them road time to practice. I started driving school a couple of months before that so I could get all the classroom instruction over with before I turned sixteen. As soon as my thirty days were over, I took my driver’s test, sweating parallel parking, and left the motor vehicle office with my license in hand.

I was a good driver, and my parents trusted me to run errands for them or take my little sister places she needed to go. I also could take the car to visit my best girlfriend, Linda who, though a little older, did not have her license yet. I drove my mother’s big blue Chrysler Newport everywhere and whenever she’d let me take it. When I was a senior in college, my dad gave me that big blue car, and I like to joke that it was partly responsible for getting me a boyfriend, who later became my husband, because he didn’t have a car and our school was in a rural area. If you wanted to go anywhere off campus, you had to have a car.

When I graduated from college and got my first job as an editor in a publishing house, my brother left for Vietnam Nam and sold me his little yellow 1968 Volkswagen Beetle convertible.  That was my favorite car of all time. I loved driving the back roads of Connecticut on my way to work in Westport. One morning, my boss, the publisher, came in and gruffly said to all of us, “Who owns that yellow Volkswagen?” Herman Taub was a little intimidating, sort of like Lou, the character Ed Asner played on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I meekly raised my hand, and said, “I do, Sir.” He responded, “Well, I hit it,” and kept walking into his office.

I sometimes felt like Mary did when I talked to my boss, but I didn’t have as much spunk.

I ran down to the parking lot, and my poor little Beetle’s fender was demolished, crushed by my boss’s huge Lincoln Continental. Since this was in 1971, you can get a picture of how big his car was. Herman gave me one of his Lincoln convertibles to drive while my car was being repaired, and I took that big old car, also a convertible, everywhere, too. I even had to drive it to La Guardia Airport in New York to pick up a package for him.  I didn’t mind. I loved driving.

Now I have disliked driving for many years. I don’t know when or why it changed. I’m sure age has something to do with it. I get nervous that I won’t see a car in my blind spot, or I worry that no one will let me change lanes when I need to make a turn. I hate intersections and I dread driving on highways. Once, when my friend came to visit me, I got up the courage to drive across that bridge tunnel Patti Jarrett was talking about, and my knuckles were white all the way to Williamsburg.

Now that it is nearly summer, the traffic here in Virginia Beach, especially where I live so close to the Oceanfront, will be a nightmare. I have to plan my trips to the grocery store during the small window before the crowds are on the roads. Lucky for me, I live in a place where I can walk to so many things like my doctor or dentist, the library, the market, restaurants, and shops to just poke around in.  I probably put only twenty-five miles on my car each month.  But if someone else drives? Count me in. Believe it or not, I love road trips. Go figure.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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24 Responses to My Love-Hate Relationship with Driving

  1. dorannrule says:

    Living in a small-town place, driving’s easy, even when we get the summer tourists. The problem is when I go to a larger city, I panic and do the white knuckle thing. And the older I get, the whiter my knuckles!

    • Coming East says:

      I think you’re right, Dor. I live in cities since 1978, so I’ve had to deal with traffic. If we lived in a rural area, I might not mind driving so much.

  2. notquiteold says:

    Oh yes! I worry so much about changing lanes I change miles before my exit.

  3. Coolest car ever! It is true that the love for driving diminishes over time. For me it was when I had kids in the car, that sucked any sense of adventure out the window. I could drive, open a juice box and wipe a face with one hand. Well, I guess that’s sort of adventurous.

    • Coming East says:

      Ha-ha, Life. I remember those days, and all I ever saw was the inside of my blue Chevy station wagon. Burns you out quickly, doesn’t it? No wonder mothers do not enjoy driving anymore.

  4. pattisj says:

    Thanks for the mention, Susan. 🙂 I hope the weather clears so Andy (the armadillo) can visit the beach.

  5. Shary Hover says:

    Driving makes me nervous, too, because I know that accidents are usually caused by compounded mistakes and everybody makes those from time to time. But the worst is how angry some people seem to get behind the wheel. Common courtesy disappears and those drivers behave as though the rest of the world is in the way. It takes all the fun out of driving.

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, Shary, no matter how careful you are, you will eventually make a mistake, and you just have to hope that someone else is watching out for you, too, as you are watching out for them. Maybe when you are young, you don’t think about those things. Young people think they are invincible,

  6. Aw, a bug, they’re so cute. I love the old VWs. I get nervy especially when I’ve been tired and it also depends who else I’ve got in the car, some people are just so nerve-making and critical! 🙂

  7. Driving, especially when the kids are in the car is something I do not enjoy at all, so my husband does all of it. I think after I had them, I really started noticing all of the terrible drivers on the road and how dangerous their inattention can be. I’m one of those awful people who are constantly in the passenger’s seat, white knuckled, sure the car I’m in will get into an accident at any moment– pathetic really 😛 …and yet, I am a huge fan of actually going from A to B, and the road trip. Love-hate, all the way 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      My husband and my brother are both really good drivers, Anne, so I don’t worry about being a passenger when they are in the driver’s seat. But even then, when we drive up the coast to visit our kids in Boston, I get very nervous once we start hitting the New Jersey traffic close to the George Washington Bridge and the New York traffic on the other side.

  8. One of the reasons I was so excited to move back east was to get away from the huge freeways in southern CA.. Our home there overlooked an 8 lane freeway. My greatest fear was I would be one of those little old ladies going 30 while everyone else was going 90. Haven’t driven much here yet, but I do love to do a road trip, somehow that is different. BTW, I absolutely HATE the Hampton Bridge Tunnel…. I always get stuck in traffic in it and my dear hubby turns into an evil gnome and insists he is seeing a little leak in the ceiling of the tunnel. I shudder with each thought of that tunnel. Traffic is horrid in VA Beach, hope those windows come just when you need to go out, maybe buy one of those traffic trucks with the big arrow flashing on the back of it would help? DAF

  9. gaycarboys says:

    i did the drive from la guadia along the left side of manhattan up to New Britain in CT. even in non-busy times it was busy and the road was utter rubbish. Yes, there is something about driving that we hate and it’s usualy the very thing we also like.

  10. gaycarboys says:

    I hear you. And like you I love road trips too. I’d like to be living in the country with a discrete driveway to a well treed property. The car would be parked in the dappled shade next to the wide shady verandah with a couple of wicker chairs and pitcher of martinis… oh but I digress!
    Fabulous story as usual. I did t

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