I’ve never been good at sports, dancing, or anything that requires hand-eye coordination. So it was no surprise that driving didn’t come easily to me. Even though I practiced enough to get my license, throughout my post-secondary years, I relied on public transit and the generosity of my friends to get to places.
By the time I finished articling and became an associate at a downtown Toronto firm, I was an urban millennial stereotype: I would ride a bike to work, but was afraid to drive a car. A few months into my job, a partner called me about a secondment opportunity to work in-house at a client’s site. The kicker? Their office was in the suburbs of Toronto, which was difficult to get to by public transit.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I almost said no, purely because of logistics. It seemed impossible at the time that I could navigate through rush hour traffic every day to get to work. But thankfully, my mentors talked me out of my doubts and cheered me on as I cautiously made my way onto the Don Valley Parkway.
To all the car-shy law students out there (I know there are many of you), I encourage you to get comfortable behind the wheel while you’re still in school. Consider driving as another skill to add to your legal professional toolkit. Once you start working, you never know when you’ll have to make a court appearance outside the city, deliver an important document to a client in the suburbs, or say yes to a secondment opportunity outside the downtown core.
In preparation for my new position, I signed up for a refresher course, and spent several weekend afternoons circling the neighborhoods of Scarborough, Toronto, with my instructor. Those lessons helped me get over my fear of the road and taught me to appreciate the diversity of Toronto in a new way. I discovered the deliciousness of gulab jamun (a popular South Asian dessert) from sampling the various Pakistani bakeries in the area, and would enjoy them in the car after every lesson.
Driving has benefited me in many ways beyond my career. And I’m sure it’ll benefit you as well.
Here are some tips to help you get (back) behind the wheel:
- Sign up for a car-share membership. With services like Zipcar, car2go or Enterprise Car Share (Toronto-only), you can now drive in cities without owning a car. You can also rent a vehicle using these services to help you practice.
- If you feel nervous behind the wheels, call a driving school. Many schools, such as Young Drivers of Canada, offer “refresher” courses for adults who have licenses, but haven’t driven in a long time.