I’ve driven on the left twice since getting here. So that makes it twice in my life (I never got around to it while in Australia seven years ago, and was not interested in driving on the left in Singapore or Malaysia this year). With the relatively light traffic – and what with being old now – I figured it was about time I gave Duncan a break from driving and had the thrill myself.
So after the Bay of Plenty Empty dolphin bust, Duncan steered us through the roundabouts and I took over when we were about halfway home. Duncan hassled me a lot about favouring the shoulder… something about being on the ‘wrong’ side of the car was apparently to blame (usually I favour oncoming traffic which makes no sense, but there it is). Or something. Fortunately, they have rumble strips just about everywhere, so I was very well aware of exactly when my tracking needed to be corrected.
Meanwhile, it was rapidly turning from dusk to flat-out dark. The oncoming vehicles’ lights were increasingly blinding me. I may have recently gotten my first pair of glasses, and have never lurrrrved driving at night, but still – it seemed WAY more taxing than usual to drive in the darkness.
Then I found the headlights for our car. Oh snap. Did you know it’s a LOT easier to drive at night with your lights on??!!
In my defence, it’s not like my passenger and fellow university graduate husband noticed we didn’t have our lights on. And no oncoming cars flashed their lights at us – maybe they don’t do that here?
Anyway, my supreme nervousness and temporary night-blindness meant that I steered us home at a very slow speed, despite my generally-heavy foot (FORESHADOWING).
Fast forward two days:
We left Rotorua at 6am, to make it back through the gorgeous countryside and into Auckland for an 11am flight to Queenstown. I took over the car around 7:30 or so after a quick pit stop. There was a nice straight stretch of road and I was using my mirrors to better effect to stay in the middle of the lane, or at least I thought I was; Duncan wasn’t so sure. He was also a bit weirded out by my somewhat inconsistent speed (wasn’t used to the car yet really… excuses, excuses). But anyway, I was feeling better. More confident.
We were in a 100km/hr zone passing through some beautiful countryside.
Duncan: Is that a cop?! Shit, that’s a cop – 115 babe!
I lay on the brakes
Heather: Are those lights for me?!
Duncan: Oh yah, he’s turning around
Duncan: S’ok, just pull over
I accidentally turned on the wipers but found the signal (damn opposite everything) and pulled over while the cop pulls up behind. Shaking, I swung around to the backseat for my purse to grab my licence and passport.
Officer (taking my licence): Good morning
Heather: Morning (face beet red; still shaking)
Officer: I clocked your speed at 114km. Any reason?
Anyway, I basically said ‘no good reason’, and muttered something about getting to a flight and being unused to driving on the left. He thought at first we were racing to an international flight but once he realized it was domestic he said we’d be alright and to take it easy. And to make sure I wore my seat belt correctly (I’d swung it off my shoulder while grabbing my purse).
Have I mentioned that I’m an extreme rule-follower? This close encounter with The Law, despite my rational brain, totally shook me up. LAME.
Anyway, we basically got a warning. I took his advice to take it easy, and hustled Duncan into the driver’s seat. Poor guy ended up driving almost 6 hours that day.
To top it all off, about five minutes later a bunch of tiny birds came flying out at eye level. Some feathers went flying out from under the car. Sorry bird(s).
In sum: I fail driving and we’re generally a menace on the roads.