Who, me?…A Female Driver’s Saga

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Robert Frost.

 

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I feel crippled, handicapped sometimes.  It seems like a road all the way but I can’t lift a foot. I seem frozen in time and inability. My inability. And that inability is a thousand times magnified by the din created all around about women’s general inability in that particular task. However, if I am confusing the hell out of you and you are lost, then reckon, that is how lost I feel when confronted with directions.

Gosh! I let go a stream of curses slouching right here in the driver’s seat of my car; debating my inability to navigate. Directionless soul, that is exactly what I am right now. I wonder vaguely sometimes that when the ‘great god of navigation gods’ fitted human cerebrums with compasses he forgot to insert a needle in mine. What possibly otherwise could have distorted my sense of direction? I am sane, okay most of the times. And like any sane human; for me my north is ahead and south behind, east is to my right or was it left? No, no…it was right since Kolkata comes that side and well that brings west to my left.

Whoa!

I get really lost sometimes driving down lanes in spite of a woman screaming her lungs out on my GPS. But seriously? Is she of any use? I ask myself scowling at my reflection in the rear view mirror. I could lose directions on a highway! Probably Amoebas have better sense of direction.

If the god of navigation gods incarnated on this sinful planet, I wonder if even then my understanding of landmarks would improve. Because to find one landmark, I inevitably need another one and to find that, another….you see how the domino effect works? And my cause is not helped by fellow drivers giving sorry, dubious looks as they pass.

But hey! That’s just me, not all my women folk driving up and down the roadway. To the world in general (which only considers the opinion of men) ‘Women folk are bad drivers. Their sense of direction is vague.’

I disagree My Lord!

In a lifetime of nineteen years I have seen worst male drivers, in fact the callous reckless behavior that many men exhibit behind the wheel is horrifying. The perception of a woman being a bad driver comes from the fact that most societies don’t consider them good drivers. But of course, they say, if not good, she ought to be bad!

Converse of not everything is true.

And if observed practically on road, in parking lots or highways; typically when men see a woman behind the wheel they assume she does not know how to drive ‘properly.’ And now that the notion is conceived in their heads, the slightest oversight on the part of the woman will get their tongues wagging. If the car ahead is driven by a woman and she takes her time taking the U turn with extra precision, the man behind snorts

“Look at her loitering in the park! It’s a road ma’am!”

If ‘they’ see a badly driven vehicle or one going zig and zag, the first thing ‘they’ say

“Must be woman”

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Turns out, most of the times that is not the case.

And the then the ‘god of driving gods’ surely frowns up the ‘they;’ ‘they’ who talk excessively about poor driving of the opposite gender but seldom look long enough to judge their own sex. Road rage, night races, upmanship; aren’t these all connected to the high level testosterone competitions among men? Women on the contrary are clearly more peaceful and sensible behind the wheel. A 2008 study done by Quality Planning, a US based company concludes that men are 50 per cent more likely to be caught for reckless driving and other traffic violation than women.

What do you say to that, O men?

No surprise then that insurance companies in some places offer women drivers low premises since they pose a lower risk of RTIs. One rarely finds them speeding and marking territory. They take their own time to reverse and park and turn. And as the men think, loitering in a park!

Not only the general driving skills of the fairer sex are criticized but their sense of direction is brutally poked fun at and sabotaged. Well, I confess I am a wee bit fitting into that category of ‘navigationally challenged’ but not all my female counterparts are.

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It is a matter of shame that girls are hammered into since their learning days by their fathers, brothers and male friends that they cannot become good drivers. Half the battle is lost there for girls who don’t know much about driving and road sense. Those who rise up to the challenge and practice, strive to make perfection out of it in the right direction. Women do a wonderful job in driving their vehicles.

I see mothers ferrying their children home after school in cars, executives driving to office, girls going shopping through the most crowded, narrow streets. They are the victors with immense confidence in their skills that has been earned. All I say to those of you sitting out there in speculation if you will or will not make a good driver, O woman; practice!

The passing rickshawalla shouts something at me but it is muffled behind the glass window of my car. And I am out of my royal preaching session.

Coming back to my navigation problems:

Banging my head on the steering wheel, not too harshly though; I know somewhere in my head that aren’t we all aimless wanderers? So what if my sense of direction evades me even when my goal doesn’t? Isn’t life like that? A road bending in the undergrowth from where you have no idea where it would take you? As Sir Robert Frost would say.

As I sympathize with myself and console a broken handicapped heart, I realize a traffic cop frowning my way. And I grin with glee. Yeah! I shout in my head, someone to show directions finally! And discover to my disadvantage that I am parked on one way. Gah! I try to bury myself in the plush leather seat as the cop nears me in the side view. Who, me?

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