Twenty two and single with a pass in driving theory

Not just an average Wednesday.

Not just an average Wednesday.

My frantic quest to finally learn to drive has had the unexpected side effect of giving my Mum Tourette’s. As we were practising around my hometown, we turned down a road with cars packed in along both kerbs. I crept along, trying not to notice the torrent of random swear words coming from my Mum as she leaned as far back as she could, with the expression of someone staring death in the face. Thankfully nothing happened, but as my judgement of what is considered enough room to drive through is not completely sound yet, it’s amazing I managed to pass the hazard perception part of my driving theory this week.

Unlike most of my friends, I didn’t start learning to drive when I was seventeen because I was saving all of my money for spending the summer holidays during my A-Levels touring Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Malawi- in fact, pretty much every country in the south of Africa except South Africa itself. (I suppose we did stop off in Johannesburg on a flight transfer, but that’s another story.) After that, all of my efforts regarding finance were focused on university; I just couldn’t imagine affording all of the expenses that came with a car.

Typically, I felt quite under-prepared as I made my way to the test centre on Wednesday; focusing so much on the Highway Code meant that I had only spent a few days practising Hazard Perception, and my mock scores weren’t promising. In fact, by the time I was sat in my booth and ready to go, the whole experience of sitting an exam felt distinctly alien to me; the days of filing in to an exam hall packed with single desks and twitchy invigilators seemed like a lifetime ago, a period of my life that I had said farewell to.

As I had signed in, a few others around me had remarked that it was not their first time. Now with the first round of questions in front of me, I despondently pictured myself slouching in for a second attempt a few weeks later. I was resigned to a near miss, a valiant attempt where I passed my multiple choice but fell at the final hurdle because I failed to notice a virtual car changing direction; just one of life’s setbacks, I suppose. Considering this, you can imagine how overjoyed I was when I found out I had passed. The acknowledgement from the member of staff weren’t exactly bursting with praise, but then how many must they congratulate on a daily basis?

I know passing your theory test is not the most momentous feat. After all, the majority of people take it and pass it (some eventually), and the practical is going to be the tougher challenge. But as I emptied my locker, I couldn’t help overhearing the frustrations of a young lad who was due to start his test but had forgotten his provisional licence; it seemed that he had been genuinely oblivious to the fact he would need it. In contrast, I felt I had an achievement worth smiling about. An accomplishment is an accomplishment after all.

I bought a sandwich from the new Subway shop. What happened next will change lunchtimes forever

subway restaurant

Ah, Subway. They said it would never come. The East Grinstead high street is adorned with all of the eateries a small town in Sussex could possibly desire, but yet the rumours were rife. The empty site next to the Bath Store had lain bare for so long, that no one thought a shop would ever move back in there; it was just one of those things that was physically impossible.

But then it arrived. Subway, in our little town! No longer were we confined to the pains of choosing between a meal deal from Boots, a pasty from Greggs, or going to the family run Olive Grove which already offered a superb selection of sandwiches, even branching out to paninis and ciabattas for the more adventurous of us. Now, we could choose our sandwiches elsewhere!

It’s Monday. The drabs of office workers still left in the town are buzzing with excitement. I can barely contain myself as I step into the store at lunchtime, and I allow myself an audible gasp at the revelation that they now serve pastrami, mainly because I never buy pastrami anywhere else but I can now see myself as a pastrami man. Like a New York wannabe frustrated by the confines of a small town.

Crowds of literally six people wait patiently ahead of me, eyeing up the vacant seating at the back of the store adorned with balloons. Was anyone there bold enough to be the first person to sit in that hallowed area? Thank god there was a local news reporter on hand; this was something you wouldn’t want to miss.

subway park

I get to the counter and I see it; the fabled mecca of bread that is honey oat. Honey oat.  Many had dared to dream of a day where honey oat would come to the town, but no one ever quite believed that it would ever happen. I felt a tear come to my eye. And I still had to choose the fillings.

By the time I reached the end of the assembly line the news had caught on like wildfire. A bustling queue was now spilling out round to the side of the Bath Store- possibly bought on by the fact that if you bought a drink at lunch you would get your sub for free- and excitement levels were bordering on pandemonium. Concern over whether there would be any meatball marinara left. Flutters of panic from those who saw the “cash only” sign far too late.

Personally, I felt the pressure of eating instore was too much. How could I sit in the window, savouring every bite, while others looked on with envy in their eyes? I fled to the safe retreat of Moat Pond and tucked in. Subway in hand, the world in my hands, the world is a sandwich. Tears came to my eyes; was this euphoria like no other? Possibly, although it may also have been the jalapenos.