Friday, April 4, 2008

Driving and Working and Driving To Work

Well, it’s official. Tell everyone you know in Australia to get off of the roads because Sheryl is behind the wheel. Adi’s brother, Alon, bought himself a new car last weekend and kindly donated his 153,000+ KM (I don’t know- I know 5K=3.1miles, you do the math) Mazda to his poor older brother and his immigrant girlfriend.

So last Sunday, while Adi went to work, I ventured out. With my heart rate rising, I slid in behind the right sided steering wheel and spent about twenty minutes going around the block to the left. Later on, I was ready for a larger challenge—a trip to the mall. The car is low to the ground and obviously is driven on the opposite side of the road. It’s a manual and I haven’t driven stick in a few years. And never with my left hand on the gear shift—okay, that’s not entirely true- back in my 4Runner days I sometimes had to reach over to shift with my left hand if I was on the phone and changing the music. But I don’t think I was supposed to be doing all that (and don’t worry mom, won’t do that in the new car—cuz no one really calls me yet!) So, I haven’t’ really ever officially shifted with my left.

I got used to the shifting fairly quickly and have just given up trying to see anything in front of me because I’m so low to the ground. One of the biggest problems is that I let people know I’m going to be turning by switching on my windshield wipers. And when it rains, my blinker is going crazy.

For the first day of work—which I’ll get back to in a second- I decided it was in the best interest of my blood pressure to take public transport. I left the house at 7:30 and walked into my office just before 9. That’s a long commute and by Tuesday, I was ready to face my fear for the sake of sleeping in a bit. The less than half-hour drive is far more pleasant and will be even shorter once my parking permit arrives and I don’t have to park as far away.

I noticed on the drive that I actually have a couple of nice things to look at. En route to work, there are mountains in the distance. And on the way home, there is a brief time with a lovely view of the city. I was impressed that I was taking the time to notice these sights. Then, I accidentally looked up to my left and realized I’d been seeing these sites when intending to look in the rear-view mirror! I’m still working on that but hopefully, drivers in other lanes understand that if my wipers going on, I’m probably going to switch lanes without being able to see them!

So…I know everyone wants to know…how’s work? Today marks the fifth day in a row I’ve risen, showered and put on actual clothes (of the business casual sort) and make-up and left the house. It’s a far cry from shuffling to the next room over in my pj’s. I’m enjoying it so far, although I’m a bit overwhelmed by all I have to do. For those who don’t know, I’m Simulated Patient Coordinator at Monash University. Sim Patients, as they’re called here, are actors trained to act out a specific case to guide medical and nursing students in communications skills and also during assessments. I was an SP for 7 years at CU which has a much more developed program than here. So It’s a bit overwhelming thinking about all I need to do to grow our list of SP’s, increase our client base, and increase funding…always increase funding.

On Wednesday I drove down to the Penisula campus, about an hour south of the city, to help my boss, Deb, out in a research project using s SP’s in an inter-professional (MD and nursing students together) setting. It was fun, after a couple of days of reading files at my desk to get to do something and I was excited to meet a couple of SP’s.

There were 4 women working that day as a patient suffering from delirium. One of the actors, whom I’d been previously warned about, was quite..shall we say…opinionated. Not just about the SP program…she told me she though my moving to Oz was a mistake and also informed me that NY is a transient town that only 20-somethings live in. Who knew there were over 8 million twenty-somethings?

My favourite part had to be when she started bragging about her daughter. Her daughter, you see, is “a very very important attorney in NYC.” Really? I know a few of them myself. I gave her dad’s name but she said her daughter wouldn’t know someone who worked for the city...which she said with as much disdain as she could muster. We’ll see….I hate that she brought out my obnoxiousness, but I see your obnoxiousness and I raise you, lady!

The day went well and I’ll return this Monday to do it again, though it should run a bit smoother since it isn’t the first time. The biggest challenge last Wednesday was navigating my way home due to gale force winds over 100KM an hour (look it up people!) These were the strongest winds Melbourne has seen in over 20 years. Felt like Boulder to me, except if a railroad crossing being down caused massive traffic delays in Boulder, I would know of other options. As it was, I just had to sit and hope no trees fell on me. The wind, along with the heat wave, which included the hottest night in March history, is helping me appreciate Melbourne’s crazy weather I’ve heard so much about.

This is very long, so the next lot of adventures will wait until next time. Adi’s festival is this weekend so that should be fun. And then we have daylight savings- fall back time…so for those who call me, don’t forget!


Sarita Bonita said...

Sounds like you are really getting acclimated. I think I spent the entire first year in Japan making sure I drove directly behind the car in front of me to be sure that I stayed in the correct lane. The most dangerous days were the days that I was the only one on the road because I would just slip into old habits and if another car came up - then I had to scramble to get back to where I needed to be (turning on the windshield wipers the whole time). :P

Ethan said...

I also remember the craziness of learning to drive on the left. Eventually I got it figured out. What really helped was realizing that the driver should always be toward the center of the road. If you're ever turning in such a way that you're at the edge, something isn't right. This was especially helpful in remembering that you have to cross a lane of traffic to make a right turn.

Hope everything continues to go great. Boulder misses you!

Anonymous said...

UGH, i'm sorry to hear about the opinionated sm as i'm presently dealing with a colleague who drives me nuts. not that i in any way wish you the trials of dealing with an annoying presence at your job, but it's somehow comforting to know it happens everywhere, even on the other side of the world! good luck w/ her, i know you'll put her in her place. can you help me put mine in her place?? ;-)