Sunday, April 03, 2005

I'm different...#1

I don't drive.

I'm 32 years old and I don't drive.

It's not that I've never tried, however.

When I was 15 I took Driver's Ed in high school like everyone else. I was supposed to take a drivers training course (the practical, not just theoretical course) in the few weeks of the summer before I left for my first trip to Israel in the summer after 10th grade. A good friend of mine was supposed to sign us both up for the course, since I was working. But for some reason - he didn't. So I never took that course, and never got my license like most of my friends did in the beginning of 11th grade.

When I came back from Israel, my dad had bought a new car, and his old one was waiting for me in the driveway to have as soon as I got my license, which I never did. Now my trip to Israel that summer was the main catalyst in my becoming religious. So in a way, it was a good thing that at the time I never got my license. For had I, especially with a car of my own, I don't know if I could have as easily given up driving on Shabbat. As it was, it wasn't so hard to not take the bus or go out in a friend's car.

Somehow I never managed to deal with driving while I was still in high school, and then I spent three years in Israel. When I came back to the States after that and got married, I was "lucky" that my wife was very comfortable driving. But I still knew that learning to drive was the right thing to do. I put it off a little bit at first, but still really wanted to learn because a) it would be easier for everyone, and b) getting my license before moving to Israel would mean it would be easier to transfer the license to an Israeli one.

Well, after a number of lessons, I got my license - just a few days before we made aliya. I drove one time by myself, and frankly, didn't enjoy it very much. But the pattern repeated and once again I was in a new place, where there was no immediate pressure to drive.

On kibbutz, they let one of us go and get our Israeli license right away. Naturally, it made sense for my wife to do so, and she did. It raised some eyebrows, but I let it slide. When I started working in the refet (cow shed) I needed to learn to drive a tractor. I took the lessons with a bunch of 15 year olds. Again, somewhat embarrassing, but after failing one tractor test, I passed. The kibbutz then let me go out for driving lessons. This was important to pass, because if you don't take your regular driving test within three years of making aliya, you need all 28 regular lessons. I took a bunch of lessons, and failed the test.

We then left kibbutz, and again, I needed to readjust before I could start thinking about driving again. When the hi-tech bubble burst, and I was unemployed for six months, I started taking my life back into my hands. I took lessons, and even took the theory test. I continued with my lessons even after I started working, and took a few tests (3 or 4) but failed every one. I don't really know why - I didn't think I did anything terribly wrong. But I guess I appeared nervous, and my lack of comfort just made me look unfit for a license.

On a daily basis - it doesn't bother me much. We have only one car, and my wife does need it. So I take rides or busses and get wherever I need to go. I do hope to take care of this for once and for all one day. But until then, I guess I'm ... different.