The Driving Test
I've already posted a story about discovering my Driver's License was eight month's expired. I thought some would be interested in finding out, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story."
It would be another week before we could get enough time to go and get my temporary permit packet. But the following Wednesday I walked in the Zanesville, Ohio BMV and within 15 minutes I had my temporary Driver’s License (why does my picture always have to look so genetically encumbered?). I leave the BMV and head around the corner to the Driver’s Exam Station. I am only planning on taking the written test, as I know that actual driving tests need to be scheduled.
I notice there is only one other person, a man, in the office taking the written test, well, actually it’s on a computer. I walk up to the desk and enthusiastically tell the distinguished looking officer behind the counter that I was there to take the written exam.
“Are you sixteen?” he jokes as I hand him my temporary license packet.
“All of that and more! I’m trying to dress as much like a teenager as I can so I don’t stand out too much today.” I’m referring to my cropped bibs, t-shirt and ponytail.
I see on his badge his name is Officer Roesseler and I’m happy to have been blessed with such a nice person to deal with. He instructs me on the use of the computer for the test and tells me which one to use.
I sit down and start through the questions. The test is not difficult since I had printed the manual from the BMV website and read through it prior to coming, so I get 32 questions out of 40 answered and the screen says, ‘You’ve Passed’. Officer Roesseler calls me back to the desk and I say, ‘I guess I need to go ahead and schedule my driving test.”
He replies, “I just had a cancellation and can take you now if you’d like.”
“Sure! If you have time.”
“I have nothing but time,’ he tells me.
We head out the door and he instructs me to enter the vehicle, start the engine and roll down the driver’s side window, which I do. He stands at the back of our mini-van and says, “Left signal.” I turn on the left signal, “Right signal,” I turn on the right signal, “Brakes,” I hit the brakes. He then walks around the car inspecting the tires then stands at the front and again says, “Left signal…..right signal.” and “Tap the horn.” He then gets in the passenger side and I apologize for the mess!
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he says, “We’re going to do the maneuverability test first, so back out and drive to the course,” (I do), “Now drive forward through the cones, do you want to go to the left side or the right side?”
I’m right handed so I say, “Right side.”
“Okay, whenever you’re ready.”
I pull forward slowly through the rectangle of cones and veer to the right around the center cone and pull forward until my rear bumper is even with the center cone.
“Okay,” Officer Roessler says, “Now back up.”
At this point an alarm goes off in my head and I look at him with raised eyebrows and say, “Back up?”
“Yes, you have to back through the cones.”
Still in disbelief I say, “Are you serious? I have to back up?”
He smiles slightly as he realizes I had failed to read that part of the manual, “Yes, you have to back up.”
I look over my left shoulder and think, “Uh-oh.” I put the car into reverse and start slowing backing through. I do know I have to clear the course without knocking a cone over. I realize I cut my wheels too far and am about to hit the first cone on the left, so I stop and pull forward so I can try it again. Out of the corner of my eye I see Officer Roessler write something on his clipboard. On the second try I clear the center cone and cut my wheels to back through the next two. I clear the next two and just when I think I might make it I knock over the front left cone. I stop the car and look at Officer Roesseler.
“I have to come back, don’t I?”
“Yes, if you knocked over a cone.”
“I did, I can see it in my mirror. It’s down.”
He gets out of the car and checks, “Yes, you have to come back.” He rights the cone then gets back in the car and instructs me to pull forward and around the parking lot back to the front of the Exam Station.
I do and see Hubby standing on the sidewalk slightly shaking his head.
I get out of the car and follow Officer Roessler back into the Exam Station. As I pass Hubby I say, “I have to come back.” He just smiles and nods his head. He’s a very patient man.
I make an appointment for the next week and as I head out the door I say to Officer Roessler with a smile, “I’m going to practice!”
In the car I say to Hubby, “Where can I find some cones to practice with?”
“I can probably get some from the Dresden Water Department,” he replies.
“I didn’t realize I had to back through the cones, I thought I just had to pull forward,” I mention by way of explaining my failure.
“Sure, anyone can pull through, it’s the backing up that’s tricky.”
“You knew I had to back up?”
“Why didn’t you mention that?”
“You read the manual, I thought you knew.”
“Somehow I missed that part,” I say sheepishly, “I rescheduled the test for next Wednesday at 1:00, and I want to put in some practice before I have to come back.
“Okay, Baby. We’ll figure something out. I may even be able to put together some standards for you to practice with from scrap wood.”
On the way home we drive by the Dresden Water Dept. and see only two cones tied to the front of a service truck. No one is at the office.
The next few days pass swiftly as we are busy with guests, but each day I mention that I need to practice my parking and by Sunday I’m getting a little panicky.
Hubby decides to put together some practice poles for me with wood scraps. I help him and by 7:00 p.m. Sunday night we are heading to the high school parking lot.
“What are the dimensions of the course?” Hubby asks as we drive to the school.
“Um,” I rifle through my printed manual until I find the right page, “A nine by twenty rectangle and another centered post twenty feet in front of that rectangle.”
As we pull to an empty portion of the parking lot I say, “It looks about the size of those marked parking spaces.”
Hubby parks the car and we get out to measure. The parking spaces are exactly nine feet wide, but only 19.5 feet deep, so we set the second set of standards six inches beyond the lined parking space then measure another twenty feet out and 4.5 feet in to center it.
I’m ready to start practicing! I get in the car and again pull through easily but when I start to back up I cut the wheels and hear,
“Cut the wheels more! You’re heading straight for the pole!”
I try cutting the wheels more, but still bump the pole, so I pull forward to try again.
Hubby continues giving me direction until in exasperation I say, “Honey, I need to do this on my own. I can’t start depending on you for directions because you can’t do that when I am actually taking the test.”
“Okay, I won’t say anything else.”
Hubby is true to his word and doesn’t utter a peep, but I can tell when I am about to hit a post; his face goes through myriad contortions.
It takes several attempts, but I finally back through without knocking over or bumping a pole. I keep practicing for a while and do a little better each time, plus I’m really learning how to use my side mirrors and rear-view mirrors.
“Would you like to try this?” I ask Hubby.
“Yeah, I would just to see how difficult it really is.”
I guessed my repeated failures weren’t proof enough for him. I pull around and in front of the rectangle and get out of the car.
“C’mon, Honey, give it a try,” I say, certain that I will feel better about my own failed attempts if he does poorly also.
Hubby gets in the car and pulls through without a hitch; then he puts it in reverse and cuts his wheels too sharply and heads straight for the left back post. He bumps it only slightly then pulls forward to try again. I was right. I’m feeling better already! Hubby tries several times before he is able to back through without either knocking into a post or stopping just short of doing so.
“This isn’t as easy as it looks,” He states as he gets out of the mini van.
“Tell me about it,” I say with a smile.
Now that Hubby has wrestled the bear he feels better able to assist me in my own grapple. “What you have to do is watch your mirrors. If you can master it just watching your mirrors you won’t have a problem with the test.”
I nod my head and get back in the van. I lean out the window and say to Hubby, “I wonder if they would let me use a pedal car for this part of the test?” I’m starting to think I might need a smaller vehicle. An MG Midget might work.
We practice for about an hour and I say I’ve had enough for one evening, so we head back home.
We are able to go back to the high school parking lot the next day, Monday, for about an hour, but have difficulty getting away on Tuesday. I mention to Hubby that my driving test is at 1:00 on Wednesday and I would like to go back to the school and practice again at about 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, just before the test, so it is still fresh in my mind.
Wednesday comes and we head over to the parking lot again. I finally start to believe I can do this without a problem. I am backing up regularly without coming near a pole. My confidence is building. At noon I say, “I’m ready.”
After a brief stop at home for a potty break we head to Zanesville, and I’m driving. I feel I need to practice for that part of the test too!
Just before we reach the Driver’s Exam Station I turn to Hubby and say, “Honey, I need you to pray for me the whole time I am in the car for the exam until I get back.”
“Okay,” he says.
“I’m serious,” I reiterate, I really want you to be praying constantly!”
“I will!” he says, "I will be praying for you until you get back.”
I park at the Driver’s Exam station and Hubby and I both go inside. Officer
Roessler is sitting behind the desk. I smile and say, “I’ve been practicing!”
“You have?” He replies with a merry glint in his eye.
I hand him my temporary license packet and he puts everything on his clip board and we head out the door. After the drill with the signals, the brakes and the horn again, he instructs me to pull up to the maneuverability course.
“Which side?” He asks.
This time I reply, “Left. I’ve been practicing both just in case I didn’t get you again and wasn’t given a choice.”
He said, “Some of the examiners don’t give you a choice, but I always do. Start when you’re ready.”
I pull through the course easily and stop with my rear bumper even with the center cone. Then I put it into reverse and back through like I was born to do it. I have a huge grin on my face as I look at Officer Roessler and say, “Ta da!”
He smiles back at me and says, “There was one other woman, about your age, who failed this part of the test on the same day you did, but she didn’t come back.”
“My husband made me some practice posts and I’ve put them to good use.” I tell him, “Also,” I add, “We’re Christians and I told him to ‘pray without ceasing’ until I got back!”
He then instructs me to drive through the cones again and circle around the lot and onto the street. The driving portion of the test takes less than 10 minutes. Before you know it I’m pulling back into the parking lot at the Exam Station and Officer Roessler says, “You’re on the road again!”
“Yay! I reply, “Thank you so much for being so nice and so patient with me! I was very glad to get you for the test again and I will tell all my expired friends to come and see you!”
That last statement didn’t come out quite like I had intended it to, but I decided to leave it alone. Officer Roessler just chuckled but didn’t say anything.
As I parked the car he handed me a signed document and my temporary license and told me I could take it right into the BMV and get my permanent license. I thank him again and ask him to tell Hubby where I am.
I’m one happy girl! Hubby comes into the BMV and sits down beside me and sees me grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Hubby tells me, “Your instructor came in and said, ‘I hope you have some money. Your wife is getting a parking ticket.’ And I just said, ‘I don’t have any money!’”
I’m still grinning and just say, “I have a license again!!”
Hubby says, “Good. You drive home. I’m tired.”
Life is good!