Solo Driving

Today I decided to drive to Aeon Shopping Centre in Takasaki. I wanted to go yesterday, and got myself all ready, only to find that someone had taken the keys to work with them…

So I was well prepared today. Hannah and I got in the car, set the car navigation, and headed off. The problem was, I had no idea where I was going. I know that I technically shouldn’t need to have with the sat. nav., but there are a couple of problems with it:

1. It’s in Japanese

2. Even through all of the technology, it’s still a map

3. It gives directions too late.

(Number three becomes even more of a problem when combined with number one.)

By this I mean that when I turn the first left, I would like to know that I need to get in the far right hand lane and turn right in 200 metres beforehand. What actually happened was, I stuck to the far left hand lane, like a beginner probably would, and then had to cross three lanes to get to the lane I needed to be in. A couple of attempts at pushing in and being denied later, I missed the turn and continued straight on. Theoretically, this is no problem, because the navigation just adjusts itself to the new route. So I followed her instructions some more, and then she told me to turn right. I ALMOST turned, until I realised that it was a two lane road, and there were huge bricks in the middle, so a right turn would have been impossible. Damn woman almost killed me!!

After what seemed like a lot of narrow roads and right turns at complicated traffic lights later, I saw the shopping centre. I felt as if someone should be playing, “Halleluya, halleluya halleluya…!” (this would have been very fitting, because the centre is surrounded by countryside, therefore looking like a mirage in the desert).

I parked in the big outside car park, in a space where I could drive through, miles and miles from any other cars. I thought when I came back that the car park would be full (it wasn’t, and the car still looked very lonely). We walked the 200 metres to the centre and then I realised I hadn’t locked the car.

I had gone there to buy Hannah a singing dancing mobile for her cot with vouchers that we have left over from gifts. The only one there was 13,000 yen, which I thought was a rip off for what it was really. So I came away empty handed. While we were there, I put Hannah in another one of those spongy play areas, which she enjoyed so much, she actually squealed. There were a few other babies around her age in there, but every mother was so protective and polite. If another baby even started to go in the direction of Hannah, or any of the other babies, the mother would pull them away and apologise profusely. I thought this was a bit of a shame, because the babies really wanted to play together. Especially one boy, who followed Hannah while crawling, grabbed her waistband and pulled her trousers down. I thought this was funny, but his mother was mortified.

So after that, we headed home. Going home didn’t seem so bad somehow. The rain had stopped and the roads were a bit busier, so lots more stopping involved. That relaxes me a bit. More time to stop and think, instead of clear roads and impatient drivers beeping their horn because it takes so long to make sure it’s clear to take a right turn!

When I got home, I parked (a bit badly), reversed and parked, reversed and parked, etc., and was very proud of my final parking. It seems more natural now, that I can drive. But weird nonetheless. I think I’ll have to practice every day though. There are still a lot of things that I’m afraid of doing, and I shouldn’t be, because I’ve done most things in my lessons already.


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