Once upon a time, as recently as four weeks ago, Wednesday evenings were a sort of mini-peak in my week, always coloured by that bright feeling of freedom that most people can only find on a Friday.
Deadline day in the ‘Herald office is always a slog; a war of attrition, so, naturally, hitting ‘send’ on my final story never failed to deliver a much-needed narcotic hit of stress-relieving satisfaction.
Of course, I understand that the positive mental state induced by the successful defeat of the hump day isn’t limited to those who work in the ‘Herald; indeed, it is an internationally recognised and universally experienced psychological phenomenon.
But, take it from someone who spent two long years working 12 hour shifts in a custard factory: Leaving this place on a Wednesday produced a fine feeling in a man.
In fact, so wonderful was this feeling of low-level euphoria, it had become one of life’s reliable joys.
It was a thing of beauty to throw open the office door on a Wednesday evening, take a deep breath of John Street, and to feel the sweet release of the heavier half of the week.
But recently things changed, changed utterly…
Why? Driving lessons. Every Wednesday. After work. That’s why.
At the ripe auld age of 25, driving is just one of those things that has never managed to find me, or, as friends and family who have spent many a year chauffeuring me around, may be more inclined to say, that I’ve never bothered looking for.
But I just never got it.
Obviously, I am not blind to the life-changing, horizon-broadening advantages of driving, but when I turned 17, I didn’t feel that same magnetic pull toward the wheel that most of my peers did. I was never bothered about it. It seemed unessential.
But lately my licencelessness has been becoming a more pronounced problem in my life. Like your drunk cousin at your granny’s 90th, it’s causing hassle, where hassle need not be caused.
So, in an effort to become a more independent being, and shed yet another of my infantile shackles, I booked a weekly lesson with a local instructor.
But now my once weightless Wednesday evenings are heavy with trepidation.
Instead of leaving the office and swinging a left into the evening sky, I now take a solemn right down to the darkness of the Omagh Bus Depot, where my carriage inevitably awaits.
However, it has to be said, despite my gurning, I’ve got lucky enough with the instructor.
This boy came without recommendation; a total shot in the dark.
For all I knew, I could have been getting into the car with Travis Bickle. But, thankfully, he has given me no reason to believe he is unhinged, creepy, or Robert Di Niro.
And not only is he sane, he’s good enough craic too.
‘Settle down, Emmet, you’re pulling that handbrake like the hulk,’ he warned.
But the fact of the matter is, regardless of how sound the instructor is, I’m a stalling, sweaty, jittery wreck behind the wheel.
However, I’ve been reassured that all my erratic, panicky behaviour is fine. Just what you’d expect, so he insists.
“Everybody perspires heavily, curses involuntarily, and stalls violently on their first few lessons,” he told me at the end of our last lesson.
But if I am to get this licence, liberate my loved ones from being my perpetual taxi drivers, and become the free rambling man I know I should be, I’ve no choice but to put my faith in the words of the instructor.
I’ll be back with an update in another few weeks to let you know whether I’m still on the road to freedom, or whether I’ve went sliding back off into the ditch of dependence…
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