Written by Anyi Cheng
“Can I catch a ride?” It’s just a question. To me, however, it’s mortifying to ask. I’ve been 16 years old for nearly nine months now and I still don’t have my license. Worse, I haven’t even started the online course you’re supposed to take before testing for your permit. When people ask me why I haven’t started the process I dismiss the question and blame it on schoolwork or overbearing parents. In reality, though, I’m just lazy.
Getting permitted is a lot of work! 30 hours of online coursework? I have neither the motivation nor the patience for that. First of all, I don’t need a car. However lame biking to school is, every time I pedal by the long, sluggish queue of cars down Maybell Ave, I feel a little more blessed to not be driving to school.
Yes, it’s embarrassing to have to ask friends for a ride whenever I need to get somewhere that’s more than one mile away. However, it’s probably in my better interest to not have my own license. Biking to school is the only exercise I get all year; at least I retain some semblance of staying healthy. What’s more, biking to school saves the environment. I don’t take AP Environmental Science, but we all know about how cars emit carbon and contribute to pollution. Perhaps it’s for the best that I stick to biking instead of driving.
I’m not alone in procrastinating getting a license, either. According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, I’m only one of millions of teens following a trend: in 1996, 85 percent of high school seniors had a license, but in 2010 that percentage dropped to 73 percent. Part of what contributes to this national decrease in driving proportions is cost alone. Cars are expensive. Even musty used cars cost thousands of dollars. And despite our country’s current abundance of crude oil resources, gasoline refills still add up quickly. Finally, insurance rates for student drivers are ridiculously high, and while there is sound reasoning behind those prices, it definitely feels nice to not have to pay them.
Still, I wish I had started my endeavor to get my own license sooner. When my friends peel out of the student parking lot (with me in the back seat, because I always forget to call shotgun), it’s hard to imagine being the one behind the wheel. I justify my lack of motivation to learn to drive through small assurances, and while they hold a certain amount of truth, I can’t deny that my life would be a lot cooler if I had a license—or a car).
Without a license, I lack independence. I can’t go out to lunch or drive out to spontaneously see friends in another city. It’s weird sitting in the front seat and having friends ask for directions to somewhere because nine times out of 10, I’ll know where the destination is, but not how to get there. In other words, I have absolutely no sense of direction. My friends all tell me that one day when I get licensed, I’ll develop that mysterious mental map the rest of them all possess, but until that day, I can stay useless when it comes to directions.
Instead, I spend my free time browsing car catalogs and dreaming about the day when I, too, can also cruise down Arastradero. Well, maybe not cruise. I’ll be fine with a very slow crawl.