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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

19: Anxiety/Driving/Infrastructure Rant

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

It's a pic of me with a conveniently napping tiger at the Budapest zoo
Here we can see me, a menace to society, behind the wheel. This is the future if I get my driving license. Is this what society wants?! (jk It's a pic of me with a conveniently napping tiger at the Budapest zoo)

Howdy! I’ve got anxiety, self diagnosed. How does that affect my daily life? Well, aside from overanalyzing every social interaction I’ve ever had from the moment they’ve concluded, onwards—the biggest side effect is my inability to drive. And by inability, I mean, legally. I do not have a Driver’s License.

I do not know how to drive, how to maintain a speed limit, break without bending the passengers over, how to turn smoothly. For reference, I’m 31 years old. Yeah, I’ve got my state’s driver’s manual and yes, I’m reading it from cover to cover. On purpose. Because while I see my fiancé reacting to this or that sign, and he kindly points out every crime we pass on the road, that’s not where my attention is. Until I’m behind the wheel, then suddenly every kid or pet or ball in whatever yard is a potential obstacle just waiting to launch themself across my path. There's so much I’m expected to pay attention to congruently. I need to be aware of my speed limit, maintain a set distance between my vehicle and that in front of me, while watching out for suicidal pedestrians, stop lights, stop signs, yield signs, construction signs, lane closing signs, police parked ahead with their lights flashing, and people somehow do all of this while responding in a timely manner to directions? HOW?! And if I mess this up, if you mess this up, someone could get seriously hurt or die. My Toyota Corolla ain't big for a car but it's big compared to a pedestrian, heavy, and fast. Or well, fast if I’m not the one driving. My record high speed was 30 miles per hour I believe and I’d like to stick close to 20 if I can get away with it. Once I accidentally pulled out of a residential neighborhoods and ended up on a main road with more than two lanes, promptly panicked, turned widely (aiming to leave the main road) which nearly resulted in a fender bender.

Honestly, my desire to go out and do what I want, when I want, regardless of what my fiancé feels like doing at the moment, is crushed by my fear of actually getting behind the wheel. I’m not good at multitasking. My version of multitasking is listening to an informational podcast while I paint and I end up tuning out loads of info. I can't even follow directions while cooking and I'm expected to drive? On fully packed multi-lane roads with left turns at stop lights and homeless camps every other block, and unleashed dogs, and whose idea was this? Who decided everybody had to drive to work? Who decided against funding subways and overpass trains (because Austin TX has caverns so subways are actually grossly impractical here), and not to fund buses? The air would like it if we all rode on public transportation. I assume many disabled people would benefit from better funded, more expansive, affordable, and frequent public transportation available throughout the USA.

But no. We all have to drive. If we can't, if I can't, the public transport system is lackluster outside of NYC & Philly. I’m gonna guess DC and a few West Coast cities have decent systems but Austin does not. Most cities here in the USA do not and it sucks. When I lived in South Austin, I worked at a federal agency temporarily, and that agency was between an 11-17min commute from my apartment, depending on traffic, when driving. By bus, however? Well, first of all busing didn’t run early enough to get me to work on time, so I had to Uber. The cost of which rapidly added up. We didn't have a car yet. Couldn't afford one at the time. In the afternoons, my commute by bus was anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. What?! And this is a city? Don’t get me wrong. I like Austin. There are tons of artsy events. The people are outgoing and kind. But how the hell does any city have such poor public transport? Ugh.

I have a fiancé with a car and general driving know-how. And while I do not want to drive, there are folks who cannot for reasons beyond their control. And if those folks don't have a spouse to rely on, if they don't live somewhere accommodating, what are they supposed to do?

I have to learn how to drive. At the risk to everyone else, I’ve got to do this and frankly, that’s insane. It’s bonkers that systematically, I’ve got very little choice. Public transport makes our roads safer. Without it, you’re gonna have me behind the wheel. I don't want that. You don't want that. But here we are. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

P.S. You might be wondering why I’m not in therapy. And the answer is:

In the words of Mr. Krabbs, "Money, money, money, money." Unlike him, I ain't got it.

Thanks for stopping by! I put out a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

TL:DR; Advice? : Fund public transport or have people like me, with anxiety and slow reflexes, menacing your streets. Also, fund public transport because disabled people shouldn’t have 3 hour bus commutes for routes that are under 20 min by car. K. Thx. Bye.

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