Learning the art of driving a car was one of the biggest challenges in my, so to speak, American life. Back home, my family has a motorcycle. It’s relatively simple using it around town where traffic signs are only suggestions. In a place, where everybody almost knew everybody, you didn’t have to worry a lot not even a getting a ticket. On several occasions, I drove it under the influence of my guts and I crashed many times close to losing my life. I almost quit. Once, I had a head-on collision and wondered time and again, why I still made it. It was miraculous.
For a newcomer, I initially imagined it was overwhelming and doubly hard to maneuver in a freeway as I easily get distracted either by the scenery or hhhmmm some things are better left unsaid. I thought the steering was too much for me to handle, the gear difficult to switch, clutch/break/accelerator confusing, traffic sign perplexing, and yep a speeding ticket no doubt easily puts me into bankruptcy. Not fun at all. And things like, do I always have to make a stop at a stop sign? What would I do if my chevy-looking-car-in- the- inside, rusty- in- the- outside breaks down in the ramp to I-94? What number should I dial? Would a ride from a saintly person at least for the remaining days in Mundelein be a viable option? On the passenger seat, I promise though to entertain as best I can as long as I’m off the hook..
These were my overriding concerns and for someone like me who grew up in an almost no holds barred neighborhood, I surely needed a shock therapy.
Few months before leaving the Seminary for good, I was prompted to put my name on the list of desperately aspiring drivers and made it to the top, actually. Later, I found out no one else signed up except me. I was extremely jealous of folks getting on their cars on friday after classes, who knows where they went while the poor Filipino, the new kid on the block, was left in the recreation room waiting for someone to give him a ride to the movie theatre. Worse case scenario, he would end up in the library doing the most undesirable, research.
My classmate, a very fine fellow, surprisingly volunteered on a saturday morning free of charge. Man, prime time! I followed his instructions and trusted my instincts. After a few rounds in the lake, I got a shot of confidence and was behind wheels in highway 77 if I’m not mistaken, an episode I couldn’t possibly imagine were it not for him. It was like a crash course in driving. I was trembling as I left the seminary premises which sent shiver down my spine.
To encroach in kolb rd heading north from calle denebola is a scary thing to do. But, I love doing it to save time, gas, miles, and make things exciting rather than take the long way to calle ileo, wait, dial a number, send a text, and go when the light turns green. It’s cumbersome. I preferred the easy way out, the short cut – the way i am. In hindsight, it wasn’t really that bad. I just have to sternly remind myself to never rush, take time and proceed only when it’s safe, sure and sweet.
About a month ago, three of us, msgr, madhu and myself, carpooled, on the way to St. Augustine High School for the vicariate meeting. As soon as I got into the Irishman’s chevy, I immediately made the sign of the cross which for me has become a second nature. Out of curiosity, he asked, whether the blessing was done to exorcise the driver or simply religious practice. I honestly said both. But added thereupon, your driving makes me prayerful and faith makes me feel safe in the passenger seat. We were then approaching that scary corner mentioned earlier. He chuckled. The Indian laughed. The Filipino buckled up and crossed his fingers, again.
Thanks my Guardian Angel…