screenshot
Dec 04

Fourteen Times

When I used to skate, my friends and I would occasionally travel to Storm Skate Park in Derby, a massive indoor skate park. Nothing like this existed where we lived; it had some of the biggest ramps I had ever seen, and I would always come back with bruises and cuts!

One day we arrived, and this was going to be the day I ‘dropped in’. This means literally ‘dropping in’ to a half pipe or quarter pipe from the top. The skater usually starts in a tail stall position on the coping and from there tips the skateboard down and into the ramp. In skateboarding this is one of the easiest and hardest things to do. It doesn’t take a lot of technical ability, it just takes guts.

So there I was; my helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards all velcroed on as tight as they would go. My hands were shaking, sweat beginning to make its presence known inside my helmet. I watched all the other boys gliding up and down each ramp, making it looking as simple as brushing your teeth, or turning on a light. Words echoed round my mind about what I was about to attempt. Bend your knees, lean forward, just go for it I thought.

I edged closer to the ramp, the no bigger than 5 foot ramp seeming twice as big from the top. I positioned my board on the farthest point I could stay stationary, counted to three several times, closed my eyes, tightened my muscles and I dropped in.

I soon realised that closing my eyes wasn’t the best of ideas, also because I was so worried about everything else I had forgotten to lean forward and so I slipped backwards, knocking my head on the tough and unforgiving wood surface. I was stunned and hurt by the fall, but more by the laughter I heard echoing from what seemed to be the whole skate park. I skated away, sat down and took off my helmet. Maybe I would learn to ‘drop in’ another day. I didn’t have the guts to try again, and the time came to leave as an announcement came over the PA system that the park was closing in ten minutes. I ran over to another area of the park to grab my helmet, and looked to the top of the vert ramp, the highest ramp in the park. A small boy, no older than primary school age was standing at the top with his skateboard ready to drop in for the first time. I watched him as he tried and fell, cutting his elbow. I then watched in absolute amazement as I saw the boy get up, pick up his skateboard and try again. And again and again. Fourteen times in total! I almost shouted out loud when he dropped in successfully, driving his fist through the air, thinking no one was watching.

Ten years later…

Thanks to some lovely changes in the law, my age means I cannot legally drive a car and a trailer, without taking a separate ‘B&E’ trailer test. So we had to get me some trailer driving lessons, and book a test.

Now, let’s just say that there may have been a few times I had accidentally driven the car and trailer together before realising it was illegal, so I was quietly confident that the lessons and trailer test weren’t going to be that hard.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

First, comes the manoeuvre, where you have to reverse the trailer around a cone, and then make sure the back of the trailer is in a 400 mm box. If it is slightly out of the box, you fail. If you get out to check it, you fail. Just like real life.

You had to take the test in an unloaded trailer, so this meant unloading almost a ton in weight of ramps out of the trailer, into a storage unit, then driving for 45 minutes to the test centre.

The lessons went well, and I was happy I was going to pass the test. I wanted to, as it costs almost £100 every time you take it, as well as it being major hassle to unload all of the ramps and load them back up again two hours later.

The day of the test arrived and we drove the car to the storage place, hooked up the trailer, drove it around the corner to the storage unit, unloaded the ramps and drove to the test centre.

I failed the first test. We drove back, loaded the ramps back into the trailer, returned the trailer to its parking space and booked another test.

The second test day arrived. We drove the car to the storage place, hooked up the trailer, drove it around the corner to the storage unit, unloaded the ramps and drove to the test centre.

I failed the second test. We drove back, loaded the ramps back into the trailer, returned the trailer to its parking space and booked another test.

The third test day arrived. We drove the car to the storage place, hooked up the trailer, drove it around the corner to the storage unit, unloaded the ramps and drove to the test centre.

I failed the third test. We drove back, loaded the ramps back into the trailer, returned the trailer to its parking space and booked another test.

The fourth test day arrived. We drove the car to the storage place, hooked up the trailer, drove it around the corner to the storage unit, unloaded the ramps and drove to the test centre.

I failed the fourth test. We drove back, loaded the ramps back into the trailer, returned the trailer to its parking space and booked another test.

At this point I wanted to give up. We could just rely on volunteers to tow the trailer, couldn’t we? I felt humiliated and exhausted by it, I had cried over every single HGV test examiner at the test centre and now they even recognised me. My back ached from carrying those stupid ramps. Our bank account was hurting from the cost of the tests. Every emotion in me told me to run away and never look back. I had tried my best and it just wasn’t happening. Nothing in me wanted to go back and take that test. Nothing.

Which is why I booked the fifth test.

The fifth test day arrived. We drove the car to the storage place, hooked up the trailer, drove it around the corner to the storage unit, unloaded the ramps and drove to the test centre.

I passed the fifth test. And did a very silly dance.

Sometimes when you feel like giving up, your next attempt is the one that will succeed.

0
comments

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Whom Do You See?