An American Driver in London

After a confining 10 hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I arrived on the royal grounds of the United Kingdom, in the Heathrow airport. As I walked through the exiting tunnel of the plane, I became very excited and alert not wanting to miss a moment of this experience.

As I was moving through the airport it seemed as if my ears became hyper-sensitive as I somehow simultaneously tuned into several conversations going on around me; all spoken in that unmistakable British accent. I began to smile as I was very amused by this and found it quite interesting. I’m sure I maintained that smile through my whole journey through the airport.

Fortunately I was traveling with a couple of companions, which was a blessing as I was having a very hard time focusing due too the mesmerizing conversations around me.

Eventually we made it through customs and found a currency exchange center. I handed over approximately 2000 American dollars to the nice lady behind the counter, and she promptly handed me back, approximately 1000 British pounds. At this moment, despite my new found euphoria I think my broad smile had wavered as it never occurred to me the significant difference in the exchange rate.

The loss of my thousand dollars in one micro second soon faded as we found our way to a car rental business which was beside the airport proper. We were soon fitted with their best economy model. I had assumed the entire time one of my two friend would take to the driving of our fine rental car; however I quickly received to adamant “no thank you” from my peers.

Little did I know, within a very few minutes my euphoria would be transformed into stressful terror. With the drivers seat on the right hand side of the car, and having rented a manual shift model, the gear shifter must be operated with the left hand. Of course I understood I would have to drive on the opposite side of the road, but I had no idea the combination of all these opposite attributes would defy every instinct I had, of how I had learned to drive.

After the most terrifying 2 hour drive of my life, and going around one round-a-bout the wrong direction, we eventually arrived at our motel; where I promptly found the interior pub to which I had my first pint of British Ale.