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YOU SAID


DRIVING’S A SKILL THAT DOESN’T ALWAYS COME EASILY, BUT WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO OBTAIN YOUR LICENCE, IT’S VITAL THAT YOU NOTICE ALL THE SIGNS! BY AJ MORRISON


learnt to drive in a hearse. OK, so it was a former hearse, but as an image- conscious teenager who was achingly annoying (in


hindsight) about “not being seen dead in that thing”, it was quite a blow to the ego every time we hit the road. The car in question? A beige (yes, beige!) 1990 Toyota Cressida 2,4 GLE station-wagon. My dad used to take me to “practise


clutch control” in the parking lot of the Edenvale Hyperama in Jo’burg every weekend. This was back in the day when the shops shut at 1pm on Saturdays and didn’t open at all on Sundays – which was actually a lucky thing (again, in hindsight), since there was less chance of anyone seeing me stalling a hearse repeatedly. More a comment on my skill as a driver than the poor car’s technical specs. You can almost picture it – my dad driving me (sulking and wearing a balaclava in the passenger seat) to the shops, describing every driving action


he performed en route. Once we got there, he was out of the hot seat like a Jack-in-the-box and getting me to buckle up and captain my ship. The thing about learning to drive in a


station-wagon is getting used to steering a vehicle that’s almost 2,4m long – that’s why Cressidas made such excellent people-carriers. There was a huge area behind the driver and passenger seats to fit a full family and all their luggage for a holiday at the coast. Or one coffin and all the flowers. Whatever. But I digress. Once you’ve mastered squeezing all 2,4m into a standard parking space – alley docking, parallel parking and incline pull-offs – you’re golden! Getting your driver’s licence should


be easy-peasy – and that’s what my dad was banking on. Did you notice I said “should be”? Mine took three goes. There was a rumour back in the


day that if you were totally pathetic at parking, you could go and do your driver’s test at a more “female-friendly”


testing station out in the bundu. They were allegedly more lenient on little blonde girls in short skirts. Well, as it turned out, after two outright fails (that saw me never even leaving the yard), I proved that rumour dead wrong – they weren’t lenient. At all. So my dad issued me with an ultimatum: I could have one more try at getting my licence, or he’d commit to being my chauffeur for life. On third-try test day, we rocked up


at the testing station in the bundu in a smaller borrowed Toyota Conquest. I sported jeans and an attitude, as usual. This time I actually made it out of the yard and onto the open road. Hallelujah! As I stopped at the town’s only traffic light, I checked my rear-view mirror. There was a beige Cressida hearse – and an entire funeral procession – behind me. They followed me for the whole road test. I took it as a pretty good sign that


I’d be getting my licence that day… and I did! T


RE-HEARSE-ING FOR REAL LIFE


08


ILLUSTRATION: SIYAMTHEMBA BOBOTYANA


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