Thursday, 26 June 2014

spatial awareness

Today I had to learn how to drive the school mini-bus and be assessed by an RACV instructor.

When they say mini, it really does not feel that mini to me. It goes a long way back.

So. Me in assessment-type situations. My amygdala combined with my pre-frontal cortex both send distress signals to my hypothalamus, which then goes into some kind of frenzy at the perceived threat of failure and I believe it very elegantly shuts down, rendering all common sense null and void.

This is not so good when driving a long mini-bus and pretending that you have students in the back. Although possibly this scenario is much better than if I had actually had students in the back.

First step to hypothalamus shutdown: step up into the high driver's seat in front of two colleagues, bang first knee on entry, shut second leg in the door as it swings shut. I know, how is this manoeuvre even possible? Don't ask me, but I do have the bruises.

Next, struggle to locate which are side are the indicators vs window wipers on...yes, yes, I have a French car, I'm a French teacher...I knew my clich├ęd lifestyle would get me in the end... also struggle to locate brake and accelerator...where is the clutch, oh ok it's automatic...and what do they mean, press button to release handbrake? What button?? Reddening cheeks, breathing a little faster. And I haven't even turned the key. Do I need to adjust the mirror? Yes, probably. What about the seat? OK. Turn key. Did I properly check the blindspots? The van is extra long, you know? Breathing. Now, turn into this narrow street with parked cars on either side. How do you feel about reversing into a driveway and turning the van around? Um what? How do I feel? I feel like No...? Apparently an option is indeed no, and allowing a colleague to reverse the minibus if it will ensure the safety of the students is a good choice. I think if I still have students actually in the van with me, safety is not a word they are going to be using. So No, may be an option but furious scribbling on the assessment page does slightly suggest otherwise. Ok. Back out on wider roads. Possibly a good idea to indicate before changing lanes, not as you are changing lanes. Yes. Of course. And, did you just fail to give way to a person turning left when you were turning right into the same road? Ummm. Yes. Is that a thing? Did I just break a rule? Because you see the rules are different in New Zealand...voice tapering off to very small voice as hypothalamus-impaired brain doesn't want to, and yet must acknowledge that I have been a) driving around in Melbourne for three years and b) they actually changed that rule in New Zealand to align with everywhere else in the world. Because it's a stupid rule that makes no sense. To the whole world except me. Apparently.

Time to let someone else drive. Relief floods my body as a burst dam floods a parched desert. Or something.

But the pop quiz does not stop for Jo. Oh no. On the Freeway, luckily not driving or having to change lanes and relive the whole indicating vs window wiper vs time between indicating and moving debacle...Jo, what would you be looking for when you drive under an overpass? Picture rabbit in headlights, stricken-type look, lots of blinking. What's the correct answer? Um. In winter, there's more shade, so um is there more potential for ice? No? The overpass might collapse? Also no? Oh right, someone might throw something off the overpass onto the vehicle. Ten people died last year because of that very action. Note to self, be more cynical, trust no one, expect the worst. Jo: where are your tyres positioned on the road when there are tram tracks. Um. Not on the tram tracks? Well...yes, but to the right or to the left? Again, is that a thing? We don't have tram tracks in New Zealand...small tapering off voice.

I have won myself and my impaired hypothalamus an extra hour and half in the mini-bus with the RACV instructor and I am probably lucky I still have my licence.

Moral of the story: if you hear that I am going to be driving somewhere, perhaps take public transport. And do not put me in any kind of situation where you are asking me hard questions or watching how I do something. I am not very good with practical life stuff. I am an academic. But the kind of academic who needs time to think about things and write them down, not a sitting exams type.

Look, they didn't even have cars in Medieval France...

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