Are things as bad as we think they are?
COVID-19 restrictions. Cleaning the car regularly, in fact, what feels like constantly. Wearing face coverings. Difficulties in securing test dates/times. Financial difficulties in running a business. Talk of lockdowns or a second wave. Concerns about social distancing. Keeping ourselves and our families safe. Keeping our customers safe. Isolation. Mental health concerns. Wondering if this industry will ever get back to some sense of normality, given the amount of time and effort we have invested in it!
I’m not suggesting we all think it’s doom and gloom but no doubt some do. Nor do we all worry about all of the above. And I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list of issues.
Perhaps we need to look at things from another perspective.
I have recently been reminded by circumstances that things are nowhere near as bad or as difficult for me as for many others. I have a customer who is finding his progress to be very slow. He is autistic. He’s a very respectful and pleasant young man. He makes me smile when I see him get into the car. He holds his hair back to get his temperature taken then releases it when he gets in. He’s a big lad, and says he loves his rugby practice. When he gets in he and (even more so) his hair literally fills his side of the car. He then attempts to restrain the explosion of hair.
Because of his face covering his glasses tend to mist up quickly, not really a big issue as we are often stopping to clean them while reinforcing his understanding of the very early stages of the lesson. He finds coordination difficult but doesn’t like to engage in discussion surrounding the difficulties.
When he gets stressed we stop and I ask him about his rugby or what he’s had for dinner to engage with him before we move into the difficulties of the task within the lesson. This seems to allow for the stress to dissipate and get him back to the task.
I never get involved in any discussion regarding any customer’s personal circumstances so when I asked him what his motivation for driving was, he quite casually told me “I need to learn to drive because my mum has a terminal illness and soon I might have to drive her for treatment, when she can’t drive because of her illness”. He went on to say that he didn’t think he would be good enough by then but he would try. I can tell you he does try hard, but it’s unlikely he will achieve his goal in the timeframe he wants to.
I’m not suggesting this to be a cathartic experience. When I see how well that young man is coping with adversity. I can see how aware he is of his difficulties and the strength of character he brings to resolve them. It just made me think, perhaps things aren’t as difficult as we first think they are.
Jim Milton is a car and motorcycle trainer, and Diamond examiner.
Source: ADI News
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