June 30, 2011

Check that one off the bucket list

The last time I posted about driving was even longer ago than I had thought. That's because I hadn't been doing very much driving. My plan to take my final road test last summer was foiled when I was put on bedrest due to my pregnancy. Between that, the C-section and my PPD, there were several months when I wasn't in any condition to drive. As if I needed additional stress, some months ago I received a notice in the mail informing me that my five-year learner's license was scheduled to expire on June 24th. Shit. If I was going to finish what I had started half a decade ago, I was going to have to pack an awful lot of practice into a very small amount of time. So that's what I did. I shelled out for one last driving lesson, ending up with a very good instructor named Joe. He informed me that my original instructor, Lino, had been fired. Joe inherited all of Lino's students and found that every last one of them was woefully behind where they should have been in terms of the curriculum. (You remember Lino, don't you? You can find links to my previous driving-lesson related posts conveniently packaged in this one post.)

Joe was thorough, he gave me pointers and he gave me confidence. He advised me to book my road test at a particular examination centre rather than the one that I had been planning to use, which had a tricky test route and ruthless examiners. Joe also gave me an outline of the two possible test routes. I took his advice and scheduled my test at the centre he recommended.

With Scott having the car for 12 hours a day and me being busy with Kai's dinner and bedtime routine every evening, I did not have much opportunity to drive. Two days prior to my exam I decided to practice driving on one of the test routes. I ended up getting lost. I nervously swerved around the highway for a while, undoubtedly frightening the drivers around me, until I gave up and found my way home, dejected. The following evening, the night before my road test, I did a fairly decent drive along the route. My confidence was returning.

On my way home I noticed a police cruiser up ahead with someone pulled over. For a law-abiding citizen, I have an odd reaction when I see a police officer: I feel guilty and I panic. This is inconvenient when I'm driving. I tightened my grip on the wheel and forced myself to look past the cruiser. Waaaay past. As I drove southbound through an intersection, studiously averting my eyes from the police car, I wondered what all of the northbound traffic was waiting for. By the time I realized that I was running a red light it was too late. I drove on, breaking out in a sweat and waiting to hear sirens, wondering how I could safely cut across three lanes of traffic to the right when the cops pulled me over. To my surprise, there were no sirens, no cruiser lights. Nary a honk, in fact. I'm sure that there were some astonished drivers shaking their heads at my apparent audacity or oblivion, whichever they believed it to be. Somehow I avoided both a collision and getting caught. That being said, I drove home with my hands shaking and my eyes nervously checking the rearview mirror every few seconds. I pulled into the driveway front-first (no time to fuss around with backing in) and ran into the house, telling Scott that he'd best get the car into the garage before the fuzz spotted it.

It was with these recent experiences under my belt that I drove to the exam centre the following morning. Scott had taken the day off work so that I could have the car, since there's no suitable public transit to the town where he works. As he is seldom a calming or encouraging presence when I drive, I chose to leave him at home. I won't go into the details of my 30-minute road test except to note that the examiner pointed out my mistakes in painstaking detail as I drove. When we returned to the exam centre he hastily instructed me to pull front-first into the nearest parking spot. I had been anticipating being asked to reverse into a spot and wasn't at all in the proper position to drive into one. He seemed eager to get it over with, however, so I did as I was told, ending up pretty much like this:

The examiner tallied my errors and put a check mark in the box next to "Fail." Then he muttered, "Oops, what am I doing," and scratched out the check mark, placing a big fat X in the box next to "Pass." He told me he was concerned about my habit of braking whenever I changed lanes. I told him that yes, it was a problem, but that it beat the heck out of my old habit of braking hard and trying to change lanes at a right angle. He did not seem comforted. Nevertheless, my friends, I passed! It took me bloody long enough, but I finally got my driver's license. I drove home from the exam centre, giddy with delight, and I haven't driven since. I may be licensed, and I may in fact be a more conscientious driver than many people (red-light running notwithstanding), but I'm not convinced that I have any business operating a motor vehicle. That's fine by me and fine by a large number of drivers and pedestrians out there, I'm sure.


Your Hubby said...

I'am proud of you by the way! Mistake are how we learn, that is how we ended up together...... from our past ones!

Love you, my sweet heart!

Rob K said...

Congratulations, Jen! You overcame your fear, got your driver's license and wrote an excellent post. Not too shabby...

Mommy's Observations said...

YAY! CONGRATULATIONS Jenni! I am so excited for you!

Cat said...

Add another to our Twin List - I also get panicked and guilty when I see a police car! I have never done anything wrong, but I just feel like I'll be arrested just for breathing. ha!

Obviously learner's permits work differently there than here? I am not allowed to drive at all without a licensed driver in the car. And ONLY that person. No passengers. I have to rent a car because I'd have to pay for a special inspection of my own car AND special insurance in order to use it for the test. One of the things that is making me nervous is driving in a completely different car than I am used to. The other thing is knowing that person will be in the car judging every single thing I do. I wonder if I'll remember to breath, or will I fail just for breathing?! GAH!

I am so happy you passed. I wish this meant that I would pass, but I don't think it does. My test is the 15 and I figure I'm going to lose 50% of my points just for speaking English. =P

bryanf said...

Congratulations! It's always good to know you can drive legally in a pinch. My wife usually does the driving in our family, as she finds it relaxing, whereas I find it very tiring and stressful, especially if more than 1/2hr at a time.

I have some entertaining (terrifying?) memories from Bri's first couple of preemie months, when she and Elizabeth were living in the hospital (Women's College and then Southlake), and I was driving back and forth from our then home in Aurora. Oh, and it was February/March, so lots of snow and ice, and extremely sleep deprived. Whee!

amelia said...

Ahhh, what a lovely comment!!

I'll probably see you sometime in September to collect my stained glass!

Last but definitely not least. CONGRATULATIONS!!

ryssee said...

Nice job!