Alison has a recurring dream of driving in unsafe situations. In the dreaming, Alison does not know how to use a blinker; she reaches for the wheel and pedals while her bum sits in the passenger seat. Alison wakes up feeling like she has no choice but to never drive.
One Word Inspiration: Choice
You have a choice:
Alison reads the driver manual. Scroll to paragraph (a).
Alison rationalizes that because she is disabled she must never drive. Scroll to paragraph (b).
(a) Alison looks up the Tennessee State driver manual online and studies for the next week. Alison now deems herself ready for the written test in order to earn her learner’s permit. Scroll to paragraph (c).
(b) Alison is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. As an effect of Asperger’s syndrome, Alison has trouble processing large amounts of sensory information in a short amount of time. Alison does not notice half of the things her husband, Lee, sees while he drives and she is the passenger. This is why Alison has little faith in her ability to make well informed decisions on the road.
Alison’s lack of faith in her ability to drive safely is upsetting to her. She believes that because she has Asperger’s, she truly is disabled from driving a car. But, Alison has places to go; she is a full time student and a part time retail employee.
It is Friday morning and Alison has to go to work. Lee is working and Alison has to get to the mall by herself. You have a decision to make:
Alison takes the city bus to work. Scroll to paragraph (d).
Alison takes Uber to work. Scroll to paragraph (e).
(c) Alison takes and passes the written portion of the driving test. Now she has a learner’s permit. It is time for her to learn to drive.
On a day off, Alison takes the wheel with her husband and now teacher in the passenger seat. They a parked in an empty parking lot to what once was a thriving mall.
“You should be able to handle this much better than Susie,” said Lee. Susie the Subaru had been their SUV. Now they had a smaller sedan type car. “You just press the button to turn it on. You don’t even have to put the keys in the ignition.”
Alison pressed the button and watched many lights turn on the dash and radio area. Lee showed Alison how to operate the windshield wipers, defroster, and blinker. Lee may have shown Alison other important details, but this story is written by a woman who does not know how to drive. So, please suspend disbelief and operate on the notion that Lee is a fine driving instructor and Alison learned many things.
“Put the gear in drive. See, it is the one with the D” Lee instructed Alison. Alison clicked the gear shift until it lined up with the D. “Now, put your foot on the gas pedal and drive forward. With unused parking spaces lined up on either side of them, a runway of parking lot stretched out safely in front of Alison. No traffic threatened her or Lee’s lives. Alison slowly pushed on the gas pedal with her foot. The car hummed. Alison increased the force of her foot ever so slightly. They inched forward. She pressed a little more. One mile per hour read the odometer. Two miles per hour, three four five miles per hour. Alison and Lee rolled forward along the parking lot.
“You can go faster.” said Lee.
You are God. You get to decide how this goes. If Alison drives forward, scroll to paragraph (f). If Alison wigs out, scroll to paragraph (h).
(d) Alison works at her local mall on the other side of town. Usually her husband drives her to work, but when he is working Alison is on her own. Alison has a direct bus route to the mall near her home and she can walk to the bus stop easily.
But, taking the bus is challenging. Public transportation involves a lot of walking and waiting outside. This becomes exhausting, especially when Alison misses a bus or feels compelled to leave too early in order to not miss her bus.
Being bound to public transportation limits Alison’s freedom. The bus routes are limited and some don’t run on the weekend, causing Alison to spend more money than she would like taking Uber to work on Saturdays. Traveling across town can take several hours. What does Alison do?
Continue taking the bus to work. Scroll to paragraph (g)
Expand her freedom and learn to drive.
(e) Alison called an Uber to pick her up for work. It is peak time for Ubers on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Alison’s closing shift starts at 1:00 p.m. Alison already feels like she is running late one hour before her shift; that’s just her personality. The popularity in Uber caused the price to spike to $20 for a one-way trip to work. That is a lot of money for Alison. She books the ride anyway with little choice left.
Fifteen minutes later, with forty five minutes to her shift, a red SUV rolls up matching the description and license number. Sherri is her driver. Sherri looks like the woman in Uber’s profile. Sherri and Alison have a pleasant conversation about how nice the weather is in San Diego compared to Memphis (they don’t even salt their roads!). Fifteen minutes later, Alison arrives at the mall. She is not at her store yet. Alison has thirty minutes to get a coffee, to her store, and sip on her coffee while it is still hot. Alison is peculiar and likes to arrive to her place of work an hour early to sip coffee and get her head in the right space. Now she only has thirty minutes. She would have had forty five if she could hop in her own car and drive herself. Alison is cantankerous and $20 poorer. She really shouldn’t be buying coffee at this point either. Now Alison is stressed. What does she do?
Alison learns how to drive. Scroll up to paragraph (c).
Alison continues to take Uber to work. This is very expensive.
(f) Alison is nervous, but functioning. Lee teaches her how to make a left hand turn. Eventually she is driving on roads and merging into different lanes and even driving on the freeway. Alison has independence. She can do things for Lee, like pick up groceries without making him go too. Alison can go to work and now worry about buying gas instead of taxi fares. Unfortunately, I can’t go into great detail about how this happened because it hasn’t really happened yet. But, the big idea is that it will.
Like this? Go to paragraph (i).
(g) The bus can be challenging. For instance, there are weird people on the bus, like the gothic dude in a long black trench coat whose therapist told him he needed to make more friends, so he tried to introduce himself shake Alison’s hand and find out what they had in common. Alison gets that people have problems and some are unique, but making friends on the city bus with no context was too much for her and she played it off like she was a germaphobe (totally not) and would not shake the weird man’s hand. There was also the time a man asked to buy her while she waited alone at a bus stop. Graphic much? Thematic? All true, but it really happened.
Alison has to make the decision to keep riding the bus (bounce back to g in an infinite loop until you decide to go to paragraph (c)) or learn to drive at paragraph (c).
(h) Alison is driving five miles per hour and feels like she is speeding. She can barely move left or right, unless she compensate and make a sharp turn. So she speeds forward at all of five miles an hour toward a brick wall at the side of the parking lot. Alison is totally wigging out now stop-going between the brakes and the pedal. It is not going well for Alison and she feels like she will never get past this level of driving.
Go to paragraph (j) if Alison persists and enrolls in driving lessons for adults with anxiety.
Alison gives up, scroll up to paragraph (b)
(i) Alison is driving along side Shelby Farms one day. There is a lot of traffic and people are pulling all the way up, just to merge at the last minute. This is creating a traffic jam and slowing everyone down in the long run. A car tries to pull in front of Alison. Alison is not having it and doesn’t let the lady in front of her. The lady ends up right behind Alison, and is giving her angry gestures with her fingers. Alison feels intimidated. Alison drives through the intersection and turns left toward Shelby farms. There is a long stretch of road ahead of Alison. The woman is on her tail no matter how fast she goes to get away from the crazy lady. They are both speeding down the road. Finally Alison realizes she has to slow down to turn safely at the end of the road. This is dangerous. Alison has an angry stranger following her and she is alone. The minute she slows down she feels a hard smack. Alison’s head hits the back of her chair. She wants to get out of the car and inspect the damage, but then she would have to deal with the intimidating angry lady. Alison calls the police from inside her car. She explains what happened and where they are. After waiting for what felt like an hour, the police come.
After the whole experience and being lectured by the police for speeding, Alison is completely rattled. Lee and his mom came to the scene and Lee drives Alison home. Alison wonders, what if the lady who chased her was any crazier than she already was? What if that bitch pulled a gun on Alison? Would this be the end of the story?
(j) First, Alison reads the Tennessee state driver manual. Then, Alison takes the written portion of the driving test and earns a learner’s permit. It is time for Alison to enroll in driving school. She opts to not have a family member or friend teach her to drive because this is a sensitive operation and she needs the best of instructors: one who can help adults with anxiety. It feels miraculous when Alison comes out of the ordeal with a license to drive. This has never happened before and I can’t really write what I don’t know. Let’s just say Alison can achieve a lot more in life. We don’t know if she likes driving or if she drives well.