I met with my mentor for our first lesson together this week, and the outcome was way beyond my expectations.
When I got in the car, my mentor asked me to get in the driver’s seat. We discussed some policies, my skill level and experience, went over the basic controls of his Prius Hybrid, and then got right down to driving. Up to that point, my driving experiences had been limited to parking lots and flat streets with no other traffic. Wayne explained that his strategy involves throwing a lot of information at you at once, and then adjusting to how you personally respond to that information. As soon as we pulled out of the parking lot I got on the road with other drivers. This experience was very new and reasonably nerve wracking, but Wayne was confident in me and I did my best to get us to the parking lot in a comfortable manner. In the Rona parking lot, Wayne took control from the pedals on his side of the vehicle and I practiced just focusing on steering, until I became more comfortable and I took control of the pedals as well. From there, we moved back onto the roads and I practiced more of my spacial awareness, including lane positioning and speed maintenance, as well as stopping smoothly and gently. I drove from Gleneagle up Noons Creek, across David, and onto Shaughnessy into PoCo where there were some better places to work on my left and right turns, shoulder checks, and even parallel parking! From there I drove up Coast Meridian and back down to Shaughnessy. I ended up driving myself home, which I did not expect at all! I took all the information that Wayne threw at me in stride, and I progressed and adapted very quickly. I am very proud of my accomplishments, and after talking with Wayne, he thinks that my goal of driving up to SFU unguided by May is within my grasp.
The component of my driving that has been working well so far for me has been regarding my own confidence and skill while driving. At the beginning of my experiences with my mom, I was reasonably hesitant and unsure of my abilities. However, after about an hour of driving with Wayne, I felt my confidence increase exponentially. I had proven to myself that I was capable of controlling the car independently and safely, and that in turn made my driving safer. I believe that this is a result of Wayne pushing my boundaries a bit to see how far I could go, and my response to that pressure was very beneficial to my learning process. The most difficult mentoring challenge came before this confidence, however. I found that whenever I overshoot a turn, forget a shoulder check, or drift over my lane spacing, I would get reasonably distraught and I would think about what I did wrong and what I should have done to fix it, which would in turn take some of my focus off of the road and make me more likely to make a consecutive mistake. This became a mentorship challenge as it would occasionally require Wayne to take control of the vehicle using the pedals on his side of the car, which would make me unsure of which movements of the car I was controlling, and what was a result of his actions. I had to stop and ask a few times if he was using the pedals as I couldn’t tell who was doing what. This hiccup in communication ended up boosting my confidence however, as I discovered that for the most part, I was responsible for all of the movements and that I was able to appropriately and safely control the car without Wayne’s direct assistance.
In the context of what could go better, our preparing and negotiating stages are already under way. However, I still feel that more explicit communication of our expectations of one another would be beneficial to my learning and to our mentorship relationship. We have talked about my final goals and the process, but the details regarding my limitations and boundaries as well as Wayne’s have not been a part of our conversation up to this point, however I do feel that having those discussions will be a part of our upcoming lessons as we learn more about each other’s styles and built up our trust.
After this highlight of an experience, I am even more excited for what my in depth project has in store for me in the near future. It’s such an amazing feeling to see my work pay off tangibly!