Overcoming challenges, from cars to Coronavirus

So, over the years I’ve written about lots of random things in my life from my family (we all know how random they are), holidays, jobs and just a few of my dating experiences…and at a time for what for many of us is quite challenging, I thought might write about how I overcame one particular challenge in my life.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as grand scale as a global pandemic, but to some it has been just as scary. The challenge I’m going to talk about is driving. My journey (pun definitely intended) with driving began nearly 15 years ago. My parents had kindly given me a set of ten lessons for my 17th birthday present and my first one was booked in for that day. I’d gone with an instructor recommended by friends, called Jane McDonald. Sadly, she didn’t have anything else in common with the funny cruise singer… wearing dull jeans and no make up she barely cracked a smile as I jumped in her Mini Cooper.

Things went from bad from worse as I jolted with the gears, got confused with the mirrors and even had a mishap with the horn. I didn’t realise quite how bad things had gone though until the end when the instructor said to me “I don’t usually say this but I think some people just aren’t meant to drive” This wasn’t the Ali automobile experience I’d envisioned.

Not one to let things ruin my birthday, particularly badly dressed driving instructors, I picked myself up and after a few inspiring words from my mum I decided she just wasn’t the right instructor for me and I got on the phone to the instructor that taught my sister. Take 2. Now this all started quite well. He was much friendlier than Jane and he believed that at some point I would actually drive – win! However, as mentioned this instructor used to teach my lovely, calm, patient sister Lauren. This is where the problems came into play because as anyone who knows me and Lauren, despite being sisters we are quite different, thus take directions slightly differently. For example, when he would tell me to do certain things if I didn’t understand, I would tell him and maybe on certain occasions, even though I didn’t have a driving licence I did think I knew more about driving than him and would again tell him. This led to conflicts and suffice to say we had to part ways…

Take three. So, my THIRD driving instructor was recommended to me by my best friend Helen and I honestly think if I had her from day one my whole driving experience would have been different. She was lovely, calm, patient – three words never normally associated with passengers in Ali vehicles. She got me feeling so confident about my driving that I even booked a test. Sadly and I must emphasise at this point completely unrelated to my driving, she got ill and had to take a break from being a driving instructor.

When this happened I had just about given up with driving. My dad was still taking me for lessons but if you thought the conflicts between me and driving instructor number 2 were bad, this was another level… they’d begin with Dad taking me round the country lanes (now I understand this was so I knew the routes to all his favourite pubs)and they would end up in Morrisons Car Park for manoeuvre practices. Literally how we didn’t kill each other in that car lark I will never know. After one particularly bad lesson I remember coming back home to my mum in my usual calm way stating it was the end of the world, I’m never going to drive, nothing has caused me this much stress and I never want to step foot in a car again. My mum then replied by saying if it was that bad I didn’t have to do it and I could give up. It was at that point as mum gave me the permission to give me the permission I decided that wasn’t me and I was going to beat this.

The next day, I booked another lesson with instructor number 4! Now this guy I’m not going to lie was a grade one weirdo! He looked like a 12 year old wearing his grandad’s clothes and he had a def perv vibe about him. I didn’t care though because he was patient and he finally explained reverse around the corner in a way that I understood. A few weeks later he felt I was ready for the test so I got booked in. The evening before I had a lesson with him which went okayish but I still felt so nervous. He then tried to help by sending a few texts that evening but like I said they just felt a bit more pervy than supportive.

On the morning I was terrified and really didn’t think I stood a chance but knew I had to just get it over with. We had the usual pre test lesson which didn’t go well, I messed up my bay park and stalled a lot. I then sat in the test centre and everyone got called up until it was down to just me and one other person. The two final instructors walked in, a scary witch looking woman and a Father Christmas looking man. Please let me have Father Christmas I prayed! Thankfully, the festive lords were looking down on me and I got Father Christmas. He then took me to the car and I noticed he had a Spurs hanky, this is definitely a sign I thought – note this was obviously Pre Stu and pre Pompey till I die. The test began with the dreaded bay parking but somehow unlike the lessons everything clicked into place and I did it perfectly. The flashed by and ended with him saying…. you’ve passed!

I couldn’t believe it, pervy driving instructor couldn’t believe it either and urged me to do pass plus – no chance mate! Arriving home I was so happy I immediately told my neighbour who was in the front garden, my dad then heard through his office window and came running down to give me a big hug. I think he had such mixed feelings of happiness he now had someone to give him lifts to the pub and absolute panic that I was actually allowed on the road.

So, the point of this long rambling? I guess what I learnt about my long learning to drive experience, the ups downs, many driving instructors, tears and tantrums is that I still got there in the end. So, while this is crazy challenging time, there’s definitely going to be ups, downs, tears, tantrums, we will get there in the end.

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