On Driving and Drive

My Dad and I thought it was a good idea for me to take up driving lessons during my later years in college. Back then, it was still legal for Driving Schools to take future drivers to the wooded, winding roads of South Drive, and that was certainly where we headed on my first day. 

The teacher drove the car to an incline, pulled on the handbrake, stopped the engine, and said that we’re switching places. My first lesson was to get the car moving from what we call a ‘hanging’ position. I remember being terrified, but I certainly felt a rush after the car stopped sliding down, and began moving forward and upward, with me and the teacher in tow, at my command! Pretty soon we were on the main road, and I was on first gear the whole time, scared of making a mistake, but low-key excited that I was actually driving! 

During the lessons I remember making a grave mistake which stuck to me to this day – I was changing gears while negotiating a curve at the same time. This was a shift of gears at a faster speed, my body moving in 3 fronts – 1 hand on the wheel, 1 hand on the stick, and my feet still getting used to easing off of the clutch and gas pedals. The teacher got just a little emotional and scolded me for not listening to him. Couldn’t blame him. That could have ended bad for us. 

But right then and there I was put in my place, and thinking of these two incidents together, I’m led to agree, once again, with the saying – With great power comes great responsibility. 

I knew how to drive. I had the lessons. But I never really started driving until 6 years later, when my Dad’s health was declining, and I needed to step up to drive. He thought it was a good idea for me to recall my lessons by way of just driving the streets less traversed, and I would be joined by a Pastor who happened to be a professional driver. 

This was different from the first time – though I was out on public roads, well, it was a very controlled environment. This time, we were out driving without an elaborate backup plan. I drove to the outskirts of Baguio, and we took pictures along the way – the Pastor was also an enthusiast. Scenic routes notwithstanding, this was where most of my other fears surfaced – fears of hitting other cars, sideswiping, fears of getting flagged down and questioned by the police, fear of the engine dying, fear of getting aggravated by drivers behind me… sure enough, during my first climb up busy Session Road, the engine died at least 3 times. 

But I was reminded on each of these 3 times by the Pastor, to focus and to remember the basics. I moved from panicking to getting the car back into speed and moving. 

It certainly put me in my place, and really, between this incident and the one time I dented the car while bringing it into the garage, I didn’t run over pedestrians, I didn’t hit any other cars, I nodded at police and they nodded back.

It’s true that you must drive responsibly, but in your driving, you should know that 90% of your fears probably aren’t going to happen.

My first real job as a Call Center Agent was such an advantage for me in the sense that I had a good perspective of the corporate world, and I was in a safe spot to immerse in it and take in as much as I could. It’s been a great run, but I would say that my first days out of training and taking in calls were some of the most important days of my life. 

I wasn’t thinking of it back then, but these first calls were, to me, my rite of passage into adulthood. Everything has been theoretical up until that point, from school to training – now, as I talked to actual customers, I had a good feeling of the rubber hitting the road. I popped my work cherry and I kept going, but the fear lingered and overruled any thrill. A couple of days in and I thought of quitting, like some of my other co-agents were seriously considering. 

I could have quit, but I didn’t – See, what I didn’t tell you is that before I even stepped into a Call Center, I wanted to be a Quality Analyst. Or, instead of talking to customers, I was listening to agents. This was a thought that kept me going back to work and enduring call after call after call, until it became as natural as my driving. 

But, unlike driving, here, anything that can go wrong has a greater chance of going wrong. In other words, you’re bound to make mistakes here… but even then, it helps to remember why you stepped into the building in the first place.

Friends, the mistakes I made, and the lessons I learned from the process have just made my eventual promotion to QA just so much sweeter.

My point in all this is, it’s okay to have your fears, but in your thinking, shouldn’t you have a reason to keep on going? 

And it isn’t that hard to realize that for every thought that holds you back, there are ten that should keep you going. 

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