Random Life As I Know It

How I Became a Licensed Driver

This semester I am taking a class I have literally been waiting my entire life to take: my first creative writing class since I sat in Mrs. Dulgar’s writing class in my senior year of high school. Anyways, the class is non-fiction writing.  (Non-fiction writing=true stories). How cool is it to take a class where all we do is write about stuff we want to write about?

Anyways, this the piece I recently wrote. It’s a segmented piece on taking my driver’s exam.

My mom has never had her driver’s license so I really give my dad credit for being fully responsible for teaching my sisters and me how to drive.  It couldn’t have been easy, or fun.

The first time I take the driving test for my license, I am not nervous. Even though it has been over two months since I have been behind the wheel of a car, I am confident that my superior driving skills will prevail and I will soon be behind the wheel of my car, on my own. After all, my driving instructor had told me that I would pass the test with flying colors, and I had no reason not to believe her. Why would she lie?
The driving examiner comes out to my dad’s car, where I am waiting behind the wheel. Without looking at me he instructs me to test the blinkers and the lights, and makes notes in his notebook. So far, I am confident that I am doing well. I look over my shoulder as I back out of the parking spot and head for the test course, which happens to be in the middle of a busy downtown suburb sometime around rush hour. With my hands gripping the steering wheel at the 10:00 and 2:00 position, I confidently drive down the road.
“Were you even going to stop at that stop sign?” The examiner says with an incredulous sound in his voice, as I realize I have just successfully coasted through the stop sign I didn’t even notice.
“Sorry,” I say, as I come to a complete stop right smack in the middle of the road.
The rest of the test is a breeze. I make all of my turns correctly and I look both ways at every intersection and I yield when I need to yield. After doing an improvised version of parallel parking, where I somehow manage to put the front end of the car in between the flags instead of the back end; the driving instructor directs me back to the testing center.
“Since you violated a traffic law by running that stop sign, you automatically failed the test,” he says.
My dad is waiting for me inside the DMV, making small talk with some random stranger like he always does. He looks at me with hope, and I shake my head.
I go home and sit on my mom’s lap, and bawl like crazy over my defeat.

The second time I take my driving test, approximately two months later; I am far less confident. After all, I know that despite the fact that a significant share of my friends have all passed their test on the first try, that I am one of the ones who needs to take the test twice. This time, a petite woman with tightly permed blonde curls and big round glasses from 1982 gets into the passenger seat of my dad’s car, and instructs me to pull out of the lot.

I’m proud of myself when I don’t miss the stop sign. Shortly after I have stopped and look both ways, the examiner tells me to pull over to the side of the road. I am supposed to pretend that I am parking on the curb on a hill. I immediately think about my driving class, and how the instructor had said “up up and away.” It makes me think about the song about the beautiful, the beautiful balloon, which is how I remember how to park. I pull over, turn the steering wheel so that my wheels are away from the curb, and look at the examiner.
“Are you done parking?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say rather confidently.
“You missed the most crucial piece,” she says. “You forgot to put the car in park.”
I fail that test, too. When I go back into the DMV, my dad is again making small talk; this time with another parent whose teenager is also taking the test. He looks up again at me hopefully, and I shake my head.
“You’ll get it next time,” he says, as we walk out the door.

On my third try of the driving test, a stocky guy with balding brown hair and a bushy beard gets into the car. I make a point to stop at the dreaded stop sign. When he then instructs me to park on the hill, I make a point to put my car in park and to actually shut the engine off. He nods, and motions for me to continue with the test. We approach a stop light, where he instructs me to make a left turn. When the light turns green, I immediately turn, even though there is a car that is just starting to go straight in the opposite direction. Lucky for me, that driver stops, and lets me go.
“You failed to yield,” the examiner says when we get back. “That could have been a fatal mistake. It’s also an automatic 8 points off your test.”
I fail that test, too. When I walk back into the DMV, my dad looks at me, this time more hesitantly, and I just shake my head. He sighs without saying anything and I let him drive home.

I wait two more years before taking my fourth test. My dad thinks I am ready to drive, and on his insistence, I schedule the test, for a time that conflicts with his schedule. It’s because I either don’t want to disappoint him or he is afraid to come with; I’m not sure. My sister offers to ride with in my dad’s new mini-van to so I can take the test.
The same lady who had tested me on my second try gets into the car. I thank karma because out of the three examiners she had been the nicest when giving me bad news. I notice her making notes in her book, but not once during the test does she ever say anything to me, with the exception of when she tells me where to go. I would think that this is a good thing but at this point I am completely uncertain.
Later, when my dad comes home from work, he walks in the door and immediately looks at me, wondering how things went but clearly afraid to ask. I’m certain that he doesn’t want to deal with the disappointment of me failing the same test 4 times.
“I passed, dad,” I say to him, smiling.
My dad gets a big grin on his face, and then hugs me. “I knew all along that you could do it.”

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