On driving: A for effort, B for execution

posted in: Driving | 4

Yesterday, I tried driving somewhere other than to the two bases and I’m pleased to say it went pretty well! We made it to McDonald’s at a local mall a few miles from our hotel, and you know what my fries tasted like? VICTORY. That’s what.

Anyway, the trip was not without some minor misadventures and an unreasonably long time spent driving around the city where we are staying. If you know me in real life, you know that I have no sense of direction at all. Like, if there is a diagnosable condition that describes never knowing where the hell you are, I have it. Last year, I got all turned around in my own town because I took a wrong turn coming home from our local Target on the way to pick up my son at our local YMCA. I lived in Bloomington for three years for college, and had been living there for a further three at the time of the incident. I joke about it a lot, but it is actually kind of crippling and, at times, frightening. And people who have a sense of direction just honestly can’t fathom it.

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Anyway, this is pertinent because I rely on GPS to get me just about EVERYWHERE in the US, unless I’ve been there like a million times. So naturally, it is super important here in Sicily because a) I have no idea where anything is, b) I can’t read Italian and c) streets are mostly unlabeled anyway.

So immediately after I left on our epic journey, my Google maps decided not to cooperate. Freezing on various screens, acting like I’m on the right road when I’m clearly not, just generally not doing its GPS thing. As a result, we ended up driving all around the city we are in as I struggled to figure out what its problem was.

In a way, this was actually kind of good because now I have a better idea of where things are in the town and, most importantly, more confidence in driving around. I had a few minor heart attacks at various points when I thought my car wasn’t going to make it up the GIANT hill (it was struggling), and when I had to stop on that hill because of traffic and had to slam on the accelerator to keep from rolling backwards into the car right behind me. Probably the scariest moment was when a bus pulled up alongside me literally less than an inch from my driver’s side mirror. Looking back, it was actually kind of funny and I wish I’d taken a picture (we were sitting there for long enough to do that), but at the time I was scared to take my hands off the wheel because it was so close. But for real, these drivers really know what they are doing. I’m positive he, at least, knew he wasn’t going to hit me.

Anyway, it was good practice for Italian driving — I weaved through traffic, parked in random places to mess with the GPS and rolled through “unnecessary” stop signs — but I still wasn’t getting to the mall. So finally I got frustrated and started looking for my Apple maps, previously deleted for being useless. Apparently this scared the hell out of Google maps because it suddenly roared back into life and was perfectly functional. I’m serious, I did nothing to it. It just started to work and 10 minutes later we were at the mall.

I had meant to go shopping, but Owen had fallen asleep (and badly needed rest) so Fi and I ended up just eating McDonald’s in the car. Naturally, I had to give myself one last scare though. Have I mentioned that this car doesn’t have a park mode? Well, guess who forgot to pull the emergency brake? Next thing I know, we are rolling backwards while I’m looking down and struggling to open a Happy Meal toy for Fi. Whoops.

Our way home was way less dramatic because even though the GPS decided not to work AGAIN, there were enough signs to easily get back to our hotel and the way to base only has two turns (marked with easy-to-remember landmarks like “that building with the giant strip club sign on it”) so we made it without incident. By the time we picked up Chris from work, I was basically feeling like rock star. Or a NASCAR driver.

But I still made him drive home.

4 Responses

  1. The Husband

    I’m not sure the bus driver knew for sure he wouldn’t hit you…more like he knew it wouldn’t really negatively affect his bus. Knock your mirror off and keep going!

  2. Myhousekey

    I love your (mis)adventures. I went to Italy two years ago with a friend who is part Italian…she had to drive because I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift.
    My friend missed some signs in Firenze (aka Florence) that apparently stated we weren’t allowed to drive on those roads during certain hours. After we got back, the car rental company charged her for so many traffic tickets that she eventually just cancelled her credit card so they couldn’t charge her anymore.
    Be careful and have fun!

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