Driving rules in Peru
I imagine all driver’s ed classes in Peru go something like this:
Rule 1: Never be happy in the lane you’re currently in. Every second you spend not trying to get into a different lane is a second wasted. The best thing to do is attempt to drive most of the way straddling two lanes so that you never have to feel that you’ve committed to either. It’s very important to switch to a lane that is going even 1 mile an hour faster than your lane is going. Even if you have to come to a dead stop in your lane for a many minutes in order to switch, it’s still totally worth it.
Rule 2. Never brake. Braking is for pussies. If you come to an “intersection” and you’re thinking about stopping to avoid a collision, just stop thinking. Braking is not the answer. The proper way to proceed is to simply lean on your horn, and sail through the intersection on your hopes and dreams. This is all you’ll have for protection because of course the seat belts don’t work.
Rule 3. Constantly use the horn. In other countries, people use horns for two reasons (1) to alert other drivers to your presence when they seem to have not noticed you, or (2) to say: Hello, I’m outside your house, waiting to pick you up. Come outside.
Horns in Peru are used differently, because people here drive with their ears as much, or more, than with their eyes. So when you’re switching lanes in other countries, you check your mirrors and then your blind spot. Here it’s different. You maaaaaybe check your mirror, but for the blind spot you don’t have to turn around and look. All you have to do is listen for anyone blaring their horn and know they’re coming at you (see rule 2). Then you know not to change lanes. And/or more likely, you’re skilled enough at detecting how close the horn really sounds, and you’re going to gamble with the lane change thing anyway.
Rule 4. Attempt to come as close as possible to the cars in front of you without actually touching them. There is never a reason to leave any space whatsoever. Treat driving as if it were a lesson in how to approach infinity, surely you can get just a little bit closer? If, at any given point you find yourself in traffic, and realize that you can’t determine what the driver next to you had for lunch, you’re not close enough.
Rule 5. Always be in a rush even when there is absolutely no reason to be. Even if you’re just a bus driver and you have to do this route all day, anyway so why the hell does it make a difference to you when you get there? Yes. Even then. Even if you have no where to be, you must get there immediately, if not sooner. Second place is losing.
I teach a computer class for four women in Zone D. They’re all about in their 50s and have never had contact with a typewriter or anything even approaching a computer. Ever. Maaaybe a radio. Maybe. But even then, it’s the old timey kind with the rolling dials. Digital is mind blowing. So these women are all very sweet, and very eager, but very confused and extremely frustrating. There must be some special fine motor skill that all computer users develop in order to manipulate a computer. Or some synapse in our computer using brains that allow us to do it. Whatever it is, these women do not have it. And listen, these are smart capable people, who I’ve seen knit beautiful sweaters, make backpacks on a loom, baskets out of grass. They obviously have the ability to use their fingers and eyes, but hand them a mouse and a computer screen and holy god it’s a nightmare.
Most of the class is spent with the women clicking wildly around the screen as I try and point them to the day’s lesson. I point my finger directly at the little “-” to minimize a screen.
-No here. Right near my finger. The line. Click the line.
-No. Do you see my finger?
-(nasty look) Of course!
-[Well you could’ve effing fooled me.] Good then, click here. Click!
Then she will inevitably click the x and close the whole damn thing. Awesome. It’s going to take us 35 minutes to get to that point again. What about right click, you ask. Forget about it. Just forget it. It took me two sessions to get the left double click down. They’d click once, and then maybe a full second later click again. No! This is not a double click. Quick. Quick. Right in a row. Bum. Bum. 1. 2. Click click. They will inevitably then highlight something and accidentally drag it somewhere else. Noooooo! Right click is for next semester.
The best part about the class is that the women just want to keep learning increasingly more complicated, and totally useless (for their purposes) programs. We should be focusing on typing and games that teach them how to use a mouse, but we’re onto Word and Excel, and most recently, blogs. Yes. Blogs. What seems to be happening is that these women go home each week, tell someone they’re learning about computers and someone will tell them about some program or site they should be using, and then they come to class and want to learn about that. Okay. Listen, I’m here for you ladies. If you want to learn something, I’ll show you. If 57 year old Luz Maria Jose Gutierrez Santos wants a Facebook account, okay. Fine. Sure she’ll never really understand what it means to “friend” someone. But whatever makes her happy. If she wants to use all five of her names strung together followed by her birthday as her username for her gmail account then okay, sure, you can be email@example.com all day if you want to be. I keep trying to lead them back to typing practice to no avail.
So someone came up with the idea that we should be “having a blogging,” so fine. We’ll have it then. I spent two class periods showing them examples of Spanish language blogs and trying to explain the idea behind them and what they’re used for. I showed them travel blogs, and movie blogs, and personal blogs. This week I asked them to come in with some ideas for a blog topic of their own and we could go from there.
I sit down with one woman. She’s not sure what exactly she’s going to be having a blogging about.
– Anything you want, really. It could be a blog about cooking and recipes you like. Or a blog about your kids. Or a blog about flowers. Whatever you like.
– Okay. Recipes.
– Okay then let’s start. Okay your blog needs a title. For my sample blog I’m going to title it “Clase de Computadoras.” Now you pick a title for yours.
– I have to think.
I give her a few minutes. She types something. I look back over. The title is “Recipes.” I start to explain to her the purpose of the title, maybe it should be something catchy. It’s got to make people want to read….oh forget it. Recipes it is. She tells me she knows some good recipes for arroz con pollo and can type them up and share them with her friends. Good! She’s getting it. Okay now we’re getting somewhere. She understands the concept of a blog.
– Okay. Step two requires us to choose a web address for the blog. They already give us .blogspot.com, you just need to add something before it.
– Like what?
– Like anything you want. Okay for example, I’ll call mine computers.blogspot.com. Okay now you pick one.
– Anything I want?
– Yes. Anything.
I look over at her computer. She’s typed “movies.” I nearly fall out of my chair laughing. None of the ladies understand why. It’s going to be a long semester.