originally posted: 30 Jan 2014
My 40-something self, who has been driving since 1982, was only allowed to get a driver’s permit today. Yes, an effing permit. Having just arrived from Germany with an expired US license, I discovered that fabulous news when I applied to the North Dakota DMV. Lucky for me, since I’m over fifteen, I can forgo the need for another adult driver to accompany me. Oh, and I have six months to get the road test done. Yes, a GD road test–unbelievable. I did happen to mention to DMV personnel that if I could drive by myself for six months why do I have to take a road test? If I hadn’t careened off the road in a fiery crash by then, I should be considered good on all the traffic laws, right? Blank stares all around.
Briefly, I dredged up memories of me at fifteen tooling around in a crap brown Driver’s Ed station wagon; Thing 1 & 2 moaning in the back seat while I ferried around the jerk-of-a-football-coach/driving instructor (from a rival school no less) who decided he may as well get his errands done while he “taught” us to drive.
Uhm, coach L.? I still can’t parallel park!
The idea of taking the d*mn road test irked me more than the written. I never had a crash (on record) never had points taken off my license, never had a speeding ticket (talked my way out of a few) and maintained a clean driving record while licensed in Michigan, Florida, North Dakota (stationed at another AFB years earlier), Nevada, South Dakota and California not to mention being tested and licensed in England and Germany. None of it matters.
Apparently, with all the oil people stampeding across North Dakota in recent years, they’re not taking any chances, so I’m forced to fall in line and prove myself competent enough to drive their hallowed roadways. I protested and whined a bit more just to annoy the lady who looked like she wanted to stab me in the neck with a ‘North Dakota the Peace Garden State’ pen, and then sat down to take the test. Since it was a computer program I knew immediately if any answers were wrong–none at that point …and then my screen froze.
Oh eff me.
I wait it out hoping the problem self-corrects. It doesn’t. I stand up, go to the door and, *GASP* knock on the window to get someone’s attention. Once he finishes glaring at me with gross indignation the test proctor hustles me back into the test area. Proctor’s lips are pursed in disgust. The jerk thinks I’m exaggerating because I’m getting a lecture telling me this has never happened. To anyone. Ever. After five minutes blinking at the same driving scenario and multiple choice question, he declares that there is, “indeed a problem.” When jabbing his spindly fingers at the keyboard and switching the PC on and off doesn’t work, it takes another five minutes before he realizes standing there and scratching his dandruff won’t fix things either.
Eventually, he assures me I could continue the test where I had left off, using another computer. Unfortunately, the program dumped my results and now he tells me I have to restart the test. Despite having completely different questions and scenarios, I passed. I get my permit, but before I leave, I have to make an appt for the road test. I tell the pen lady that I shouldn’t have to come back to take the road test on pain alone, or at least a discount was in order for holding me hostage all afternoon in a poorly ventilated room that smelled like teen angst. I could tell my comment was not appreciated. Humor is so lost on these people.