Thursday 10 December 2009

A youth driven from wisdom

I move with comfort

For long I have been amazingly wise in my own conceit and survived my journeys with means well provided.

In Amsterdam, the bicycle comes in handy for most trips till I saw the playback of my big fall in the slippery icy patch that was just 10 metres ahead, indeed, I did fall and great was my fall as my pride was dented in the presence of no one to observe.

Wet as it was, I dusted off myself and swore never to ride in thawing snow again. For short and long trips for convenience a taxi-cab has sufficed, the bus comes in handy if the landmarks at embarking and destination are clear.

Trams and metros could be fun if there is a place to sit, trains are such a bliss for long journeys, if there is time then the plane loses out. Before I fell ill I used a cane for a sometimes troublesome back, I became a lot slower when my feet succumbed to cancer and I had to use elbow crutches. The feet are mostly healed but a bit of support will help the full rehabilitation of my walk and gait.

No contraband in cars

However, at over 40 I do not know how to drive, that has a history I dare not repeat and a refrain I would be smart to keep quiet.

My cousin came all the way from London last Saturday having driven in his car, the advantage of car travel in Europe cannot be overstated, in his last journey I had goodly cooked Yoruba stew brought over, a thing you cannot accomplish by air travel.

His journey was probably the best part of 7 hours or less, including the ferry connection from Dover to Calais, just about the time it would take by train, but with booking in times and interchanges you might add another two.

Driven to wash

At 45, my cousin has been driving for 33 years; he loved to wash his father’s car and in the process got to move it back and forth to the point that there was enough confidence to handle the car.

I never like those activities, washing the car came usually as punishment for some misdemeanour rather than a present willingness to be helpful, I did jump at opportunities to change punctured tyres though because I knew to do that from when I was 8.

In some ways, I was a child of privilege, my father had a driver and sometimes two official cars, it was the driver’s job to ensure his office was in order, we were sometimes stopped from fraternising with the staff, but never escaped rebuke if we disrespected the staff – there wasn’t much you could do if the staff were the carers when our parents were out though.

Mobile parenting

So as my mates got out of secondary school and assumed the responsibility of being in post-secondary education, they had about 4 of 5 years of driving experience behind them, I did not because my dad decided the cars were too heavy to learn anything on and I did not pursue the idea of driving school because my expert colleagues began relieving the drivers in the weekends.

I just was not going to stand for that kind of treatment, but I learnt something new about the experience of driving your parents and their friends at that age – there are some conversations, insights, meetings and experiences that would never happen in any other environment but when you drive your forebears to places, what they talk about, who they meet, who you get introduced to and some indeterminate network that you end up building along with a certain relationship of trust.

Steering into wisdom

I would appear if you drove your parents at that age, you became an adult to them a quicker and you earn a level of respect that others have to struggle at by coming first at school by 10 percentage points or you have underperformed.

Suddenly, as my cousin shared that opinion I was slightly overcome with the shame of thinking how lowly the job of driving was that I never drove or properly learnt to drive, there was a repository of insight I missed out on – but then I can no more cry over split milk.

I still dream of having my own car and for all said and done, it would probably be a Bentley Continental because in my view it comes standard with a chauffeur. Like I clearly stated to a chauffeur service I had in my last contract, the whole purpose for having a big car is to sit in the back seat with room to stretch and read your papers, not at the steering wheel.

If you really must drive a luxurious car you own, then get you a two-seater vehicle or a trailer cab and put it in top gear.

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