Learning to drive is one of those times when I look back and feel so badly for my parents. To be fair, I feel badly for me too.
Things got off on the wrong foot with driving school. There’s no pun intended here on “wrong foot” even though I am a lefty, and lefties are supposedly more likely to get into car accidents. Anyway, I was a boy-crazy adolescent at the time with my big crush in my driving class. No shock here; I didn’t retain much from that class.
Later when I went to take my permit test — and failed on the second time —I can still remember the question that determined whether I passed or not. “When is the road the most slippery?” For anyone who wasn’t forced to read the driving manual multiple times, it’s when it first starts raining. Apparently, this question was clearly covered in our class. While I didn’t learn it then, I’ve never forgotten it since.
For me, passing the permit test happened on the lucky fourth try. I couldn’t take the pressure of a real-time computer test. Each time I received a wrong answer, I cringed, and the words on the computer screen became more and more jumbled.
However, my day finally came that I passed my permit test and was ready to hit the open road. With a licensed driver, of course. Driving for the first time with my dad, I blew through a stop sign in our Chartwell neighborhood. I remember feeling pressured from the driver behind me. It was their mere presence of being behind me that caused it.
After many hours of driving practice and thankfully much improvement, it was time for the highway driving tests. Those went decently well, although my pit-stained shirts after each two-hour drive might have indicated otherwise.
Next up – driving test time. Apparently, my 93 Ford Taurus had a broken tail light. The DMV sent me away without allowing me to take my test. Once fixed, I did a great job on my driving test, however, I couldn’t get close enough to the curb when parallel parking. Therefore, a failed test.
After the permit test debacles, broken tail light and failing the driver’s test, I had ENOUGH. I went out in my driveway with two trashcans and practiced, practiced and practiced. When I went to take the test, I finally passed! Sure, it was seven months after my sixteenth birthday, but I had a license.
Learning to drive was like an impossible video game for me, and the DMV will forever remain my most despised place to visit. However, I’m grateful for the patience of my parents, instructors and my older brother and sister who got stuck driving with me when I had my permit. Lastly, thank you to my friends who gave me rides while I slowly acquired my license.