The boy took his driver’s license exam today. The road test for the real license.
I took the test when I was 15. Because of my mother’s handicap I was given a B license that allowed me to drive without a parent or adult to and from the pharmacy, doctor’s office or other errands my mother might need. I was not allowed to drive around with other teens. I don’t recall using the license at 15 for more than anything but errands for my mother. I was considered “cool” only in that I had a license before anyone else. I was not considered “cool” in any other regard so the license really didn’t do much for me.
I failed the first time I took the test. I hadn’t driven much except for my six hours of behind the wheel and driving up to the cabin with my parents and brother. Driving up to the cabin was all freeway so it wasn’t all that challenging. The hardest part was trying to drive while my father continuously road the non existent brake on his side of the car. I failed the test the first time because I couldn’t parallel park properly. I still can’t.
When we arrived we pulled into the drive thru lane which is not unlike going to McDonald’s. My son made the mistake of listening to his mother and following the teen in front of him. We pulled into the drive thru going the wrong way. I don’t know if they were scoring yet but I hoped not.
Once we turned around and entered the correct way my son handed all the paperwork to the government worker with a really bad toupee. Why does it seem like all government employees are hired out of the parking lot of Wal*Mart? They are all fat, really fat, with bad hair and bad teeth. They get a clipboard and they think they are hot. I don’t get it but it was no different than the last time I was on the course in 1981. I grabbed the most recent insurance card before we left. I did not look close to the card since I had just received it in the mail three days earlier.
My insurance company is extremely efficient and sent me my new cards over a month in advance. Unfortunately the Minnesota department of vehicles was not impressed by their efficiency and wanted the current card not the one for next month. They gave me a slip of paper with directions on how to pull the car to the front of the building, get out, enter the building, use the courtesy phone and have my insurance company fax the current information. I sat in the car and called them. After the agent faxed the information to me he, the agent, said he would wait on the phone to make sure they received the fax. I walked into the building with my phone to my ear.
I asked, what looked like the receptionist, where I needed to go to get the fax. She glared at me since I was disturbing her “me time” with People magazine and pointed in the direction of the line that I was supposed to be standing in. There were only four people in front of me but at the DMV that could be hours.
I still had the phone to my ear even though there were signs plastered all over the room stating cell phones were not permitted. I was happily talking to my insurance agent who insisted that he was in no hurry to go and was happy to make sure they got the fax. This might have been convenient for me today but I have a feeling that when I call them I will be placed on hold for a long time as they wait for someone else to get a fax. I continued to ignore the signs and had fun describing the government workers to my insurance agent. My insurance agent was amused but I’m not sure the government workers were. When I talk on the phone I tend to assume that I am in the cone of silence and talk in a regular voice. No one shot me any dirtier looks than normal and I assumed they were just upset that I was using my cell phone when it clearly said I needed to discontinue its use.
After a few more minutes I was called to the desk where they quizzed me on my insurance. I apparently passed and they stamped the paperwork, gave it back to me and sent me on my way to try again.
So we started over this time going through the drive thru in the right direction. My son was given a piece of paper telling him that he would be tested on the controls of the car. Lights, hazard lights, brights, windshield wipers and emergency brake. I had never used the emergency brake before and wasn’t sure of its location or operation. We eventually found it but I wasn’t all that sure how to unengage it. My son figured it out after popping the hood and the trunk.
I tried to look casual as I got out of the car and closed the trunk and hood and then walked back to the building to wait while he took his test. I found a window I could watch from and sat back and prayed.
My son operated all of the controls at the examiners commands and she got in and they drove off. The first task was to back into a parking stall at a 90 degree angle. I don’t remember having to do this on the test when I took it. My son hit a cone right off the bat. From there he had to park on hill. The thing is they don’t tell you it’s a hill and just ask you to park. It doesn’t look or feel like a hill and I do remember messing this part of the test up by not cranking my wheels to the left before putting the car in park. I slapped my head when I realized what was happening. I had forgotten about this part of the test. I actually considered sending my son a text message but thought better of it.
The test went down hill from there. Apparently my son, who is is mother’s son, argued with the examiner about the “hill” and the brights on the car. He didn’t do so well on the parallel parking either but all the other parts of the test, the actual driving stuff, he did wonderfully.
It was not enough to pass the test however and we have to go back next week. I talked to the examiner for a few minutes before returning to my son who remained in the car. The examiner said he was a fine driver and complained that the exam was a driving test and not a parking test but it was enough to knock off too many points. She was very nice even though she failed my son. I had a hard time concentrating on her words since she had something stuck in her teeth and I couldn’t decide if I should mention it to her. What if we got her next week? I didn’t want her remembering that I pointed out food in her teeth. Some people appreciate that but some don’t and I didn’t want to roll the dice.
My son is disappointed, he had all sorts of plans to go and drive around today. He had plans to drive to school tomorrow, he had plans to go to a friends house this weekend. All with my car mind you so I wasn’t all that upset about having to go back next week. Right now he is shoveling out my truck so he can practice backing the car into the slot where the truck usually sits. He is going to practice his parallel parking in the front of the house. I’m not even going to bother getting into the car. I have a feeling that I’m not helping him pointing out what he could do, should do and better do while he is driving. I’ll watch form the window.