My Welsh buddy and I went to the car park–or mud pit with ditches and remnants of stone walls– so I could “have a go” at driving on the opposite side of the car. It was the perfect place for me to begin. After thirteen years in rural Vermont, I was used to driving on dirt roads.
I sat in the driver’s seat on the right side of the car and put my left hand on the gear shift. Immediate disorientation. I felt as though I didn’t know at all how to drive. So I just sat there for a minute. Luckily, my feet were expected to do all the same things: right foot in charge of the gas and the break, left foot in charge of the clutch. So I pushed in the clutch, took hold of the wheel with my right hand and used my left hand to move into first gear. Gas. Great, we were going!
Shifting with my left hand was not hard. The hard part was reconciling the empty space on my right. It felt like a whole car was missing. I was preoccupied with the right when I heard my friend say:
“Um, you’re really close to the fence over here on the left.”
I wasn’t even aware of the left side of the car.
“Yeah, you’re actually hitting the fence now.”
That was pretty much the end of the lesson……I think I’ll just keep walking.