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.