As of today, I am officially off my P plates. For non-Australians, this means I am no longer a Probationary driver and am now licensed to drive a vehicle carrying more than fifty-seven people, while swigging gin straight from the bottle. Well, not really, but apparently I can legally drive a car with a manual transmission, which is quite worrying since I have never actually driven a car with a manual transmission and suspect that the difference between the two for someone like me is as great as the difference between being able to follow the plot of the first Matrix film (hard enough) and being able to follow the plot of the sequels (nigh impossible). Or even following that last sentence.
Anyway, many people asked me how I planned to celebrate getting off my ‘Ps’, and my glib reply has usually been something like “Get really pissed and do donuts in the Aldi car park”. Which is apparently what I was supposed to do when I was on my P plates, except I was too busy ferrying around small children around in a people mover.
Yes, people, I have been an extremely responsible and careful P-plater. I have followed the restrictions placed upon my probationary licence for three years to the letter. And that letter is ‘P’! (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha a little probationary licence holder humour for you there). However, I recently grew concerned that I might blow it all on the last day by taking my P plates down too early. I mean, my probationary licence expired on the 18th July, having been the date I got it. Intuitively, it felt right that I should take my P plates off on that day. It’d had been exactly three years. I’d served my sentence. If I took them off the next day, that sentence would have been three years PLUS one day. I mean, nobody said I’d have to be on probation for three years PLUS one day. Nobody. And yet, I wondered…
I asked one local dad who I knew to be an officer of the law about what I should do.
He took a long look at me and said something along the lines of “Listen, lady, I’m a detective. If you have a dead body in the back of your car or you’ve just made a getaway from a major jewel heist, then I’m the man to talk to.”
Or not talk to, as the case might be.
Anyway, I decided to take his subsequent advice and err on the side of caution. I waited until the 19th July (today).
I can’t say I’ll miss my P plates that much. For one thing, I won’t miss the other motorists thinking they need to ‘learn me real good’ just because I have P plates. Also, there’s something about driving around in your late 30s on Ps which smacks of Rodney Dangerfield in that “Back To School” movie. Not cool. And I’ve yet to see a P plate that sticks onto the car without half a kilo of blue tac and a roll of sticky tape. I can do without the stress of hearing the unmistakable ‘thwick!’ of the P plate unrolling itself off the back window so it fall into a puddle or, better still, a steaming mound of dog shit, the very next time I open up the back of the car.
But having said all that, there is one thing I will miss. Having them (precariously) stuck to my car windows was a bit like wearing a badge of honour. They said to the world “Here is a woman who overcame one of her biggest fears at the age of 36”.
Driving, eh? I thought I’d never be able to do it, but it turns out I can. But not in a car with manual transmission. That shit’s complicated.