Friday, June 7, 2013

Driving test flunky

I hit a turning point in my life when I got my driver's license. I turned left, I turned right, I even did a few donuts. har har. But really, learning to drive and gaining the independence that went with it, changed a lot of things for 16 year old Alison, not all of them for the better (you can't get lost driving around a city at night if you can't even drive to the city in the first place, and being late for curfew is a lot harder when your parents have to pick you up). However, it wasn't easy to get said license. There were the usual hoops to jump through, permit classes, written test, driving lessons. But then there was the driving test. Or should I says tests.

The first time I took the driving test I was a bundle of nerves. I took the test in my mom's Saab. It was still really new and was the fanciest car we'd ever owned. I loved driving that car. It was smooth, it had heated leather seats, a sun roof, and even a CD player. Woah. It also had a funny little quirk: you couldn't turn off the headlights when the car was on (we even looked it up in the car manual, you'd need to remove the fuse). But why should that matter? As it turns out, one of the first things on the test instructor's evil little checklist, after buckling your seatbelt and adjusting your mirrors, was "know how to turn headlights on and off". I couldn't. The test instructor, a grouchy gray-haired man, was not kind about this. One point off. And I hadn't even put the car into gear yet.

It all went downhill from there. It was bad. I stopped when there weren't even stop signs. Before the test was even complete I had lost enough points that he told me to just drive back to the test site. I'm pretty sure I cried. A lot. But in hindsight, I'm glad I failed that first time, somebody driving with that little confidence should not have a license. Then I took it again and passed and went on to live my life.

Just kidding!

The second time I took the test, I did so at the same testing location, but this time I got a very nice woman as my testing instructor. I immediately explained about the headlights and she understood and didn't dock me any points. Then we went out into the street. I should mention, this wasn't a closed course. This facility tested you on real live roads with real live traffic and, in this case, real live construction detours. It was a little overwhelming, but I was feeling much more confident than last time. The instructor told me to take a right. I started to turn left (what 16 year old know their left from their right away?), at which point she yelled "NO! THE OTHER WAY!" Ok, I might be exaggerating, but however she said it the result was that I swerved to comply, cut somebody off (pretty closely), and immediately knew I had flunked the test. Again.

Failing twice is really, really embarrassing for a teenager. The prospect of failing for a third time scared the crap out of me. So for my third test I chose a different testing location, this time one with a closed course, hoping that would help break the pattern. It did (or maybe I was actually a better driver by then, who can say) and finally, I passed. It was November, 1999. 8 months after my 16th birthday. And I was never the same since. I love driving. And don't worry, I've gotten better at it in the last 14 years.  I even know how to turn off my headlights.

18 comments:

  1. I, too, failed my road on the first try. I hit a curb on a circular driveway and that was the end of that. But thankfully, I too had someone nicer test instructor and finally passed. Like you, I think I was definitely a bit better the second time out and more confident. And I still love to drive, too. Wonderful post and seriously thank you for linking up with us again. Have a great weekend, too!! :)

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    1. :) I enjoy FTSF, thanks for hosting it!

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  2. I got my first permit in South Africa at 17 because the driving age is 18 there. That means that when I came to the US, I almost failed the written test because enough things were different. I did pass my driving test the first time but got a 0 on anything parking related. I too have improved since then but still can't parallel park if the space is too big.

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    1. Ethan failed the permit test and he didn't even have that excuse. And I *just* got the hang of parallel parking, like this year.

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  3. haha...since I came from a country where their were no rules for driving. ME driving on these sane roads was a breeze but was scared of speed and got a tix for driving slowly :))

    TGIF :)

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    1. driving too slowly? I didn't even know that was a thing. I definitely will never get that ticket. heh.

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  4. Lucky for me, I passed my first driving test with 100%. Don't get me wrong, I was still terrified and nervous as all get out, but I passed and I remember thinking, "I'm so glad that's over. I'm so glad I'll never have to do that again."

    Well, unfortunately for me, I got in an accident when I was 18 and my father got freaked out and made me turn my license in. Not just to him or that I wasn't allowed to drive for a while. He made me actually turn my license in to the state. Drove me to the court house and made me hand it over to the poor lady at the reception desk who was looking at us completely and utterly bewildered, not understanding why someone would be voluntarily handing over their license.

    So, 4 months later, once my dad had finally come around to letting me drive again, I had to take the driving test all over again. This time I got a 95%, the instructor telling me that I cut my left turns to close.

    It seems my driving only gets worse with time.

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    1. wow, and I thought my parents were strict! (although I didn't get in an accident at 18 so who knows what they would have done...)

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  6. is it better to take the test with real streets or a closed course?

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  7. is it better to take the test with real streets or a closed course?

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  8. I remember my driving test. When it came to the road, I did perfect with driving except for following people too close. The main thing that I failed on was the online test. I don't like studying for test and reading that big book. I failed the first time and then I took it a second time and passed with just one above the needed score. http://www.registrydepot.ca

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  10. Amazing posting. i have a bad news that I have getting a driving test while I am fail. But to get your post I am more conscious about that to take a test again and contact DVLA.

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