Monday, 8 April 2013

The Driving Test

I sat down in the waiting room of the driving test centre. The cardboard furniture wasn't particularly comfortable but it beat pacing the floor like a loon and rubbing my head against the walls in sheer boredom. The letter from the Road Safety Authority crinkled in my hands as I nervously folded and re-folded it. That's my biggest problem: I'm a fidgeter. I fidget. I always have to have something in my hands when I’m anxious, tired or upset. Since those three emotions occupy my glandular system for ninety percent of the time I go through a lot of clicky pens and paperclips.

I've been here for about a half an hour already, my on-going anxiety means that I'm always far too early for appointments. The blonde girl who went out on the test before me is back already. That's not a good sign. She's been crying judging by her puffy eyes and running mascara. Balls. That means the tester is going to be in a foul mood when he brings me out. Thanks a bunch Blondie.

The Blonde girl left the tester's office, still crying. Are they going to let her drive home like that? She's a danger to other road users and since I’m going to be one of those in less than ten minutes that concerns me greatly. Another hazard I'll have to look out for.

The tester walks into the room and calls my name. I nod in reply and stand up, following him into his office.

He scribbles my name on a test sheet, takes my car registration and looks over my learner permit. Everything is fine. He takes out a laminated sheet with the road signs printed on one side.

He points to one at random: It's the sign for a clearway. I answer him and he moves on, asking me three more signs. I answer them correctly, i think.

We go out to my car, a decade old Peugeot 206 that I've named "Daisy" after my first crush. She was a cow. Literally. In my defence: I was four when i fell for her and who doesn't like free unpasteurised milk?

Daisy has her NCT and has been serviced. She's ready to go. The tester has me check the lights and then open the bonnet to show him how I'd top up the windscreen wipers. I wonder to myself whether anyone's failed this portion of the test and if I could be the first. I mentally slap myself across the buttocks for thinking such defeatist thoughts.

Ten minutes into the exam and i haven't even started the engine. Finally the tester tells me to get inside and he asks me more questions about the internal controls. Now it's time to drive.

We leave the test centre and go right, straight into the town. It's a Wednesday morning and the whole area is quiet. It's too late to encounter any of that school traffic and too early to meet the office workers piling out of the pubs and crossing the road without looking after having a liquid lunch to help them make it through the day. I keep an eye out for the usual hazards: Blind guy? Check. Old woman in one of those electric carts? Check. Black Labrador left to wander the town and poop in the neighbours garden while his owner goes to work? Check.

This entire town is basically a hill built on top of a load of other hills. It's a nightmare to drive around. I genuinely wonder why people decided to found a town here. But then I remember that the inhabitants of this town are notoriously thick. Like, marry their cousins thick. That would explain a lot, come to think of it.

I drive for ten minutes, taking care not to hit any pedestrians or graze a cyclist and the tester tells me to pull over. It's time for the manoeuvres. Hill Start! Three point turn! Reverse around a corner! The last to these is something I've never seen anyone actually do except during the test. I manage to do these OK. No one dies at any rate.

I feel giddy as we head back to the test centre. I may actually have done it! I have driven competently for thirty minutes! Let's see that guy fail me now.

We arrive back at the centre and head back inside to his office. Unfortunately, he drones, I have been unsuccessful.

Sweet and Sour Baby Jesus! What's a guy got to do to pass this bloody thing?

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