Small victories

14 Feb

One thing that I have found very frustrating so far since I’ve moved to Australia is that I get lost. A lot.

I do have GPS on my phone, which is immensely helpful, but I still miss turns or end up in the wrong lane and get funneled off onto a street I didn’t want to be on. And the GPS doesn’t seem to know that there are certain times of day where right turns are prohibited in major intersections.

Sometimes I get confused about the traffic rules, like these silly hook turns, where you do a right turn from the left hand lane. I don’t always know what street signs mean. A lot of times I can’t even read the street signs because they are so small. I’m also not used to having traffic lights on the sides of intersections instead of hanging above them, so a few times I didn’t even see the lights. It takes a very long time to get anywhere, too, as the traffic here is just awful at almost all times during the day.

Another thing that makes driving stressful is that the traffic lanes are a lot more narrow than they are in America. H has a Touareg which only just fits in a lane and I end up having to be a lot closer to other cars than I am comfortable with. Also, I find it difficult to judge the space my car is taking up from the right side of the car. Yes, I got used to driving on the other side of the road when I studied in England, but I rarely drove there and usually only on lonely country roads (if I went into London, I always took the train), whereas here, I’m driving every day through city traffic and have to be a lot more aware of where my car is and where other cars are. I’ve had a few near misses.

I get really annoyed with myself because before I quit my job, I was driving tens of thousands of miles every year, all over America and other countries, too. I’m a far more experienced driver than most people my age, having logged over a quarter million miles in the past four years in all different kinds of road and traffic conditions. I have never had an accident or a ticket. So I feel like I should know what I am doing and not be having these sorts of amateurish problems.

Well, just as I was starting to get really annoyed with driving and looking forward to the bike I ordered arriving so that I could cycle everywhere instead (it came yesterday, yay!), I did two very awesome things. Okay, just slightly awesome… but it kind of made my day anyway.

The first thing is that I drove the whole way to H’s work WITHOUT MY GPS! That’s right! I didn’t even turn it on or look at it or anything. I drove the whole way there, by myself, without getting lost. Hurray! I also drove the whole way home without getting lost, remembering for once which lane I needed to be in so as not to end up on the wrong side of the river, which I’ve done several times now, despite help from my GPS.

The second thing is that I managed to parallel park and get it right on the first time! I’ve never had problems parallel parking the way some people do. It’s not that hard, even in a large vehicle. (I actually find large SUVs easier to park than small compact cars because the SUVs have larger mirrors and more side visibility.) But doing it from the wrong side of the car is trickier because, as I said, it really distorts my perception of how big the car is and how much space it is taking up. But I managed to slot into a spot that was just big enough and I did not hit the curb and I was not sticking out over the parking bay line. Hurray, again!

2 Responses to “Small victories”

  1. Cosette May 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Theo has a NavMan and an amazing handle on his city. He knows which back roads to take to avoid traffic and the lights, which means that even after three months, I don’t know where anything is! Miami is a grid city with numbers rather than windy streets with names. It’s going to take me a long time to know Melbourne the way I know Miami.

    • housewifedownunder May 19, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      The lack of a grid layout and numbered streets is really frustrating! I’ve been learning my way around slowly, one destination after another. It’s definitely not intuitive. The first thing I did was memorise a couple tram routes so that I could follow the tracks most of the way to my destination.

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