Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Come Clean About My Driving

As I explained in a previous blog post, the Q and A's are by far the most interesting part of any talk I present. After a keynote I delivered at the Kansas State DBSA in late April, a woman asked me:

What was the life change that you went from 30 years of not driving to getting a driver's license?

"New Zealand," I replied. Then I explained:

I used to drive a cab in the United States. But everybody in New Zealand drove on the wrong side of the road and they wouldn't make an exception for me. I wanted to say, "but I'm American" - no, I had to follow the rules. This linear stuff, again.

And then I had a wife who would go, "reeep, reep-reep," so I'd go, "right, you drive." Fortunately, I lived in urban areas most of the time in New Zealand and Australia, and I just got out of the habit. When I finally moved into the mountains of southern California, it's like - okay, I really have to get a license. Because it's like being up on the Donner Pass in the winter time. Just even to go get mouthwash was a major expedition.

So - I flunked the driver's test the first time. I went through a red light. The panic responses with my second one - but the guy took pity on me.

People were telling me, "this is like riding a bike." Well, I was never good at riding a bike, either. And, "it will all come back to you." Guess what, it didn't. This gave me some new insights into the brain. It was like, these neurons aren't being used. All that muscle memory - whatever they call it - I guess they recruited the neurons for something else.

Because I sure as hell didn't remember anything about driving.

But, finally, yeh, I got a license and they just put out a red alert every time I go out on the road.

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