The week(end) of the Summer Dance Concert had me up around 7 am every morning and exhausted by mid-afternoon with probably 10 more hours of the day to go. First I had to get my driver's license.
Soula took me to the Iowa DOT (Department of Transportation) Tuesday morning. Actually, I drove, as I had been for over a couple months now, every time we went some where. We couldn't remember exactly where it was and drove past it, had to turn around a couple of times until we finally stumbled upon it. My examiner that day was Bob, a tall, sturdy, gray haired man with glasses.
"This weather sure has been a bit crazy lately," I said putting on my sweater as we walked out to the car. He said nothing.
Once we reached the car, I followed his instructions precisely. We pulled out of the parking lot, onto the main road. I obeyed traffic signals. I made beautiful left and right turns, signaling appropriately of course. I kept my eyes pealed for any imminent danger, as all good drivers know to drive defensively. My heart was beating a little faster than usual, but to Bob, I wanted to be as calm and cool as possible.
We drove down the road for about 3 minutes. A left, a right, a left, another left and before I knew it he asked me to pull back into any parking space in the lot. Already?
"You did not pass today. You were going 31 in a 25 zone. You can come back tomorrow and take the test again. Have a nice day."
And with that he was out the door. 31 in a 25 zone!!! Okay, in a perfect world, that's a little fast, but I was certainly not going dangerously fast, and definitely just going along with the pace of traffic. No cop, unless they were really pressed to give out some tickets, was gonna stop me for that on a busy traffic filled road. I drove Soula and I to get some breakfast and yelled vehemently "YOU FAIL!" to every car who did some outlandish illegal thing on the road. How could they drive like nutcases? But I, a great driver (certified by all the friends who took me out on the road), was failed for 31 in a 25 zone?! Come on!
The next day Bob checked me in at the door and Theresa, a thirty-something blonde with a sparkling engagement ring took me out for the drive. She gave all the same instructions which I again followed precisely. I knew I was doing well when it didn't seem that we were immediately headed back to the DOT.
We pulled up to a left turn only lane with its own signal. I patiently waited with my blinker on for it to turn green. When it did, I pulled up into the intersection but hesitated to complete the turn as I saw the oncoming traffic continuing to move. Before I knew it the light was red, and I was stuck in the intersection. When I had the green light again I completed the turn and before I knew it she asked me to pull back into any space in the parking lot.
"You did not pass today. You were fine up until that last turn. Because you were in the intersection when the light turned red, you technically ran a red light. You can come back tomorrow and take the test again."
Shock. Disbelief. Are you kidding me?! How am I supposed to prepare for every single possible traffic situation? And what should I have done? Complete the turn and get hit by a car? Spontaneous combustion into tears.
Once I got over my sadness and disappointment, accompanied by several cathartic "YOU FAIL!" shouts, I decided to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I got to the parallel parking portion of the test tomorrow, they would NOT fail me.
So, up and down Iowa Avenue I drove, parallel parking in EVERY open space. I had to figure out my technique, my approach, so that I would get it right on the first try, every time.
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The next day, the middle aged black woman who had conducted my eyesight test the previous two days checked me in at the door. Bob was working the license renewal station. Theresa checked my eyesight. Heidi took me out on the road. The red-head showed a partial tattoo under her DOT uniform's short sleeve, and I imagined that when she wasn't taking 16 year-old's and late-blooming 24 year-old's out for driving tests that she wore leather jackets and rode motorcycles. I was the first test that morning and more determined than anyone else that today would be the day.
Heidi gave me the same instructions that were given to me the two days previous, and I followed them precisely. I didn't get caught in the intersection making a left turn and before I knew it she asked me to pull back into any space in the parking lot. Please, not again!
"Well you've passed today. Just take this on inside and they'll call your name."
Finally. After 8 years, 4 learner's permits, 1 summer session of driving school, and 10 different people who were brave enough to let me drive their cars, I am legally licensed to drive... and I didn't even have to parallel park. Go figure.
But that was only the first thing I had to take care of that week. Second I was giving Dance History lectures, administering exams, and grading papers. Third I was having a Moving/Bake Sale. Fourth I was performing.