Moving up in the world

Bright and early every weekday I drive my MINI out of my building’s car park. This morning I noticed that turning left onto the road, I wasn’t scraping the poor alloy wheels on the kerb any more. Yes! I’ve moved to another level of awareness in driving in left-hand traffic.

Apparently there are four levels of awareness:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence – the blissful ignorance. My usual state in most things technical. I can happily grin like an idiot.
  2. Conscious Incompetence – the painful awareness. That nasty realisation that you don’t know anything and you should. This was the feeling I had on my first week at work. Luckily this time there’s training involved.
  3. Conscious Competence – the heavy involvement.
  4. Unconscious Competence – second nature, when it’s all so obvious!

As for driving in Britain, I’ve progressed from that tiring conscious competence phase to the more relaxed unconscious competence stage. How do I know? The signs are clear:

I’ve finally stopped relying on my Nokia Drive phone navigation app for my 12-kilometre commute. I could have given it up earlier, but I quite like the voice guidance: “In the next roundabout, take the third exit”.  There are 12 roundabouts on my usual journey . When I was still confused about the traffic on roundabouts going clockwise, it was awfully reassuring to have someone tell me what to do. Even if it was a stranger.

After a long day at work, I tend to remember that the driving seat in my MINI is on the right. There are still the odd occasions when I accidentally walk to the left-hand side of the car with the intention of driving. And the steering wheel is not there. It’s fairly embarrassing. Especially when you’ve volunteered to drive a new colleague to the station. He was polite, though, and came along anyways.

Instead of constantly reminding myself to keep left, I can now casually listen to the radio while chauffeuring my MINI around the Heathrow area. Just by luck, Absolute 80s was the first DAB radio station I was able to locate and store.  Apparently, the station is aimed at reluctant adults, who want to reconnect with the tunes of their youth. On my way back home tonight, I got to listen to Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Tracy Chapman. I guess I don’t have to say more.

I’ve even progressed to overtaking. Let’s hope the next stage in my British driving evolution is not road rage.

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