Previously: Man-Machine Meld
It has always been my dad's aspiration for me to learn to drive. He thought that by doing so, I could shuttle him to work one day. Or perhaps, it has always been a father's dream to see their sons take the wheel.
Whatever his reasons, he told me to look up for a driving school and sign up.
He will pay for it.
So I did his bidding and took a short, hands-on course at Socialites. It was the nearest driving school from Morayta, where I am taking a public speaking class that summer.
The lesson plan was spontaneous and organic. No orientation was done. Not even the traffic rules were explained to me.
I was already behind the wheel the first day - learning to shift gears by stepping on the clutch. I remember throwing it on reverse. The Hyundai Charade inched backwards. Very slowly. I don't know how long it took for me to clear the parking lot, but the instructor was getting impatient.
We have not reached the road, and yet, he already showed what to expect in his class.
"Pag sinabi kong apakan mo ang break, apakan mo!" he hissed
"Talagang ibabangga mo tayo ha!?"
The account may have now meshed into the collective memory. But I still remember the smell of rubber (because he was stepping on the break while I hit the gas), his order to switch the hazard lights so he could insult me at a shoulder, and the uneasiness I felt after. The instructor had took all the fun away from driving.
Disinterest had set in that I dreaded attending the driving lessons. The instructor went with his intimidation tactics that the next two sessions no longer mattered. Kumbaga, I just had to get on with it. Sayang ang pera. I won't drive anyway, so the next option is to make my dad happy.
From the initial thrill, I ended the course disillusioned and disinterested to pursue the road. I didn't even submit an application for a non-professional driver's license for I feel that I've not learned. I would remember the instructor for a long time, and lament how time was wasted.
On the day my lesson was about to end, I even spoke to another instructor - a perky one - and thought how fun it would have been had he been assigned to me.
I was 16 when I first held a steering wheel, and for several years, I believed that I have forgotten everything: stepping on the clutch while changing gears, releasing the hand break for the vehicle to move, and moving in reverse to exit the driveway. But then one day, in a video game arcade at a department store, a college buddy challenged me to a race.
"Karera tayo," he dropped the tokens into the slot.
"Manual transmission dare!" I accepted his challenge.
I was not able to outrun my buddy so I lost the race. But in defeat, I realized that not everything was lost. Inside the cockpit. As I stepped on the clutch while shifting gears, I was applying the lessons I've learned from driving school.
For all the times I thought it was forgotten. There I was, at long last, driving.