Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Work, driving and crying in a car park


It’s almost midnight. My feet ache, I’m sweaty and I stink of beer.

This scenario isn’t as fun as it sounds. I’ve been to my first real shift at work. Since I quit the job I had in sixth form (I worked in a pound shop. It was a hell hole,) Paid positions, or indeed, reasons to be on my feet for six hours at a time have been few and far between.

So this is a bit of a shock to the system. This whole week has been a shock to the system. I’ve gone from a degree to barmaid and waitressing and from public transport to a car. Do something that scares me? I’ve been a nervous wreck! I know I’m a very anxious person to the point where it’s unhealthy, and I know that I have recently been trying to immerse myself in stressful situations that I have to force myself to keep calm in, but this week has been daunting to say the least.

My life has changed for the better. I have gone from spending my year out on benefits to having a job, and from everything taking an hour longer than it should on the rickety rackety bus to being able to jump in my car. But these are both huge changes and I have spent all week waking up with butterflies and every day fighting through them. I am getting through work okay, even though I got a bit nervous before my shift, but driving is a whole other issue.

To say I’m not a natural at driving would be an understatement. It took me almost eighteen months and four tests to get a licence and on the first day I had my car, I stalled it 12 times. I’ve now had it for five days and while I am getting much better, the stalls are still daily. Yesterday, I needed to drive out of town to get to placement and had to go via Middlesbrough town centre to pick up the girl I work with at placement. I got on and off the A19 without incident; however, the A66 was a different story. I went in the wrong lane and ended up at some massive roundabout with many lanes and traffic lights and loads of lorries, and again, realised I was in the wrong lane and wanted to move over. I got beeped at and my driving was unsafe at best.

The rest of it was okay, apart from when we got to placement and it had been cancelled. But I got back to Middlesbrough okay and then set off for my boyfriend’s and got back onto the A19 and to his really easily. I even drove him to the supermarket later.

So what difference can 24 hours make? Lots. In a fit of cockiness, I agreed this morning to drive him to work, back in the dreaded Middlesbrough that has no easy way of getting into it. We went a different way to what I had, again because of a lane cock up. So I ended up at another terrifyingly huge roundabout with loads of lanes and ended up crossing them at last minute and received lots of angry beeps. Do these people not know I’m lost?!

It got much worse. On the way back to the A19, that yesterday I found very easily, I found myself sailing past my turn off. I kept calm for now and decided to carry on towards Stockton, hoping I could find my way home from there. I got more and more lost to the point where my driving was a mess and people were beeping and I ended up trapped in a car park in my panic. I actually parked up so that I could have a little cry. I couldn’t believe how lost I had ended up, I was scared and sweating and generally worked up.
Then I remembered the sat nav and felt incredibly stupid. Getting home with the sat nav was the easiest thing in the world.

So lesson learned. Until I get more confident, use a sat nav. I mean, at work or uni, I wouldn’t just carry on doing something I knew was wrong and let it get out of hand and even more of a problem, I’d ask for help. So for the foreseeable future, even to go places that in theory I know how to get to, I will be using the sat nav.

I have since driven to work to check if the folder I was meant to take home was there, back home to get changed, back to work for my shift and back home again with no dramas. Like a lot of things, driving is learn by doing, and when the idea of doing scares me, I just have to man up and do it anyway and eventually, I’ll be able to do it without thinking about it and will wonder what all the fuss was about and hopefully won’t have need to cry in car parks. 

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