So, my mom was doing all the driving about town in Uncle Harold’s relatively new car (I think there were less than 300 miles on it). She was doing a good job, what with the whole opposite-side-of-the-road thing. There were a few close calls, grazes, even curb bumps on the left side during turns, as we’re just not used to gauging that side. And with the roads also being so narrow, as a passenger I soon felt most comfortable with my arms fully inside the car. I’d already learned the hazards of dangerous car parts such as like side-mirrors in Cairo. But I will say, on the occasions where Mom was hesitant to squeeze between cars or buildings, based on my personal observances of physics-bending in Cairo, I would urge her on pointing out that she had gobs of room in the two inches separating us from the wall.
After a few pointed questions as to whether I was going to attempt driving, I finally relented and agreed to drive home from the hospital one evening. By now I knew the route so I could put most of my concentration into the actual mechanics of driving a car on the opposite side of the road. Luckily Uncle Harold’s car is an automatic. I wouldn’t want to add the layer of figuring out how to shift with my left hand to the mix. There were a few quick-breath intakes from the passenger seat as Mom apparently felt I was too close to something on the left, but I figured there were no sparks nor scraping sounds, so under my guidelines we were far within “Cairo limits.”
I did have a bit of an issue, as did Mom, with the turn-signal and wipers, as they are on opposite sides of the steering wheel to what we’re used to. So when we’d come to a corner, our car would suddenly appear to have a spastic fit, with wipers going, blinkers indicating right then left then right again, and finally with some arm flailing and a few “Blaenavons” under our breath, we managed to stop the wipers, and indicate the correct direction we were intending to turn.
So I managed to get away with only driving the one time. But you know, being a passenger is not merely a spectator sport – it requires quick thinking, lightening reactions and the ability to not scream out loud and frighten the driver. All things I learned in Cairo.