I studied in UCD for four years in total. I did an Arts Degree (English&Philosophy, not painting as my nanny used to think it meant) and then went back to do a MA in Drama and Performance Studies. I lived nowhere near Belfield at the time and had to get two buses to college and two buses home. Sometimes I would only have a one hour lecture and I would have spent four hours of the day on public transport.
And still I had no interest in driving. I quite liked the bus actually. It’s where I did the majority of my college reading. It’s where I glossed over notes for exams and caught up with friends on BEBO. Ah BEBO, them were the days.
I worked in The Olympia Theatre and spent many nights agonizing over the fact that the bus driver “just didn’t stop for me” and I ended up having to fork out for a nightlink or taxi. Nearly every week there was some kind of incident on the bus. A fight, drug-use or a break down.
And still I had no interest in driving.
Then I met Peter. The love of my life who happened to live on the north side. Lucky for me he drove. I think he nearly had a heart attack the first time he dropped me home from a date in town. He asked me were we still in Dublin and referred to it as “the country”. He was in for it.
At this stage I had absolutely no interest in driving. Sure I didn’t need to when Peter did. To his dismay obviously.
The next chapter of my life was becoming a mother. I remember the first time I brought Billy on to a Dublin Bus. Oh jesus I was petrified. Every abrupt stop made the pram jerk forward a bit and my nerves were absolutely gone. Every person who moved, coughed or asked me about the baby was a nuisance. I didn’t want anyone to wake or infect my baby. The mothers of more than one child will roll their eyes at this one but come on, first time mother and all that.
As time went on I found myself totally resenting public transport. I could write a book on the amount of times the bus didn’t stop for me for no aparent reason. I got caught in the middle of arguments and tense situations more than anyone I know. It was, for the most part, actually quite unpleasant. You just become hyper-aware of these things when you have a baby or child with you. You want to shield them from anything scary or negative.
But what really really bothered me was the fact that Dublin Bus drivers all have different rules. I happen to be a big fan of a rule. I like to do things by the book and I am not rebellious. It’s just not me. But the fact that 50% of bus drivers do one thing and the other half do another does my head in. There are rules in place when it comes to the amount of prams that are allowed on a bus. It is a health and safety thing as well as accomodating wheelchair-users. The reality is that different bus drivers have different ways of approaching it. It could be absolutely lashing rain and I am soaked to the bone with my child in the pram. The bus driver will stop and say I can only get on if I fold the buggy. My child is four months old and fast asleep. The next day the sun might be splitting the trees and the bus already has two prams on it. I stroll on with my two year old in the buggy and the driver smiles and says hello. He doesn’t bat an eyelid as I find a space for my buggy that clearly there is no space for.
It started to become luck of the draw and really added stress to my life. I’m someone who likes to get out and about. Play-dates, a potter around the shop- whatever keeps me away from endless hours of housework. I started having to factor the bus stress in to my plans. I might be going ten minutes up the road but an hour would be needed to allow for the bus annoyance. Sure one might just not stop for me and the next one wont let the buggy on. More often than not I would be out during naptime so I couldn’t take him out of the buggy.
Also, can I just say this – when a bus driver asks you to fold the buggy is it too much to ask that he or she DOESN’T DRIVE off until you have. I have found myself standing on a moving bus with one hand on my toddler and another trying to fold up the pram as people look on in bewilderment. I’ve had to hand my child to a stranger because he would fall if I didn’t. STRESSFUL.
Anyway, loads of people don’t drive and get on just fine but I wanted to say that this was the very thing that made me consider learning how to drive.
I took the scenic route and it’s taken me TWENTY EIGHT driving lessons but finally I am able to drive. I can go to play-dates irrespective of bus times. I can take the awkward doctor appointment time because it just involves a five minute drive rather than a two hour round-trip with a sick child. I can “pop” to the bank, shop or the playground that isn’t within walking distance. The one with the big slide.
I never thought I would see the day but learning how to drive has made life so much easier and if we are lucky enough to have more children I’ll be chuffed that I finally bit the bullet and learned.
If like me you are thinking you cannot do it, just take the first step. I was absolutely petrified (and still am for the most part) but I kept booking lessons (after a one year break and having to drive myself to my own wedding on national television) and eventually it all fell in to place.
This was yesterday. We attened an event in town and driving wasn’t an option (TOWN like) so the bus journey (without the buggy) was a NOVELTY. Never thought I’d see the day.
Disclaimer – I am shite, HATE parking, always cut out, never drive close enough to the ticket machine in a carpark & hope to never have to put petrol in the car – but I am DRIVING.