Behind The Wheel

I don’t drive.

And in a city like Beirut, where public transport is abysmal and cars abound, this means that I have to be dependent on other people to get from one point to another.  Which quite frankly is a horrible feeling when you’re trying to assert your independence.

It’s even worse when you want to get home after a crazy day at work and the person who was hired to do that job bails on you.

It’s not that I don’t know how to drive. Over the years I’ve taken countless lessons: from my mother, from uncles and great uncles,  from professional instructors. Even Ahmad has pitched in. And each and every one of them has certified that I can operate a vehicle without a hitch.

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It’s not that I’m not eager to drive. I could not wait for my 18th birthday to start taking driving lessons, especially considering that all my friends were at least a year ahead of me in that department. So I would try to fit in driving lessons any chance I got, even if it meant waking up early to have a lesson before my college classes started.

It’s that I never really felt the need to drive.

The idea of taking the only car that my family owned and paying exorbitant amounts for parking (if I found any) all day long never appealed much to me and that continued long after I graduated, traveled, returned, and got employed. I could always catch a service or even walk if the conditions allowed it.

And even when the service option stopped feeling viable (due to concerns about safety and traffic), I hired a driver to do the job and it seemed to be working great for a really long time. Until the incidents where he doesn’t show up became more frequent.

In line with that, I’ve started re-assessing my stance on not driving but I still feel discouraged getting behind the wheel and getting somewhere on my own.

This is not an environment that encourages anyone to drive so it really hasn’t helped me. The roads in Lebanon are far from optimal and the drivers themselves could benefit from an extended remedial course on driving skills. And I definitely do not feel ready to tackle on the never-ending traffic and the frustrations it brings along.  Just the mere idea of never getting anywhere on time makes me shudder.

But I have to get around to doing it someday. There’s only so much one can do by depending on others and sitting at home, with my arms folded in refusal, is not going to get the job done. Or get me home from work. I guess the trick is to just drive, without thinking much into it.

That or I’ll probably learn how to ride a motorcycle. Or maybe I’ll just stick to a bicycle.

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