My last driving test was almost five years ago. I was so nervous that my left leg did not stop shaking for the duration of the hour we were on the road, I went over a roundabout in fourth gear and implied that my examiner’s marriage was in trouble (“Do you and your wife have any kids?” “No, we don’t.” “Ah, over the honeymoon period?”). It was a disaster but miraculously I passed and went on to be a
slightly bitter resident taxi driver for the rowing team last year.
On Wednesday I went to the DMV with Sofia to get my US license and hoped for the best. I was not feeling optimistic. After being mistaken as German when I had phoned to confirm that my booking was correct I was completely prepared for everything to go horribly wrong and to have to come back another day. I wasn’t worried about failing the test. I’m very confident about my driving. No, I was worried that I would have another Social Security incident and be missing a form or have turned up on the wrong day. But, bizarrely – for the first time since I’ve arrived in Miami – everything went smoothly. I handed over my documents, had my photo taken, took my written test (passed) and waited to be called for my practical test.
My examiner checked my lights and windscreen washers were working and then off we went on an epic ten minute adventure… around a car park. That’s right. My driving ‘test’ involved parking in a space, reversing out of said space, making a safe emergency stop and reversing in a straight line. I tried to be chatty with my examiner who was having none of it and said, “Maybe you should try concentrating?” Right. Cool. Must not be distracted when doing complicated things like driving at 5mph in a straight line. We then drove around a residential neighborhood for three minutes where I saw two other cars, stopped at some stop signs and then drove back to the DMV. We got out of the car.
“Well, you passed.” The examiner told me.
“Great! Any suggestions for improvement?”
“Yeah, you should watch your signalling.”
“Sorry?” I was a little confused. Not only do I usually signal more than every other driver in the greater Miami area combined, but I had been making a particular point of doing so during my test. “I was signalling the entire time.”
“I couldn’t hear it.” Turns out that the examiner had turned my radio down but not turned it off which apparently turns the clickey sound off when I indicate.
“I promise you, I signal more than any other driver in this city.” He laughed but I didn’t think it was that funny that he thought I failed to signal for the entirety of my driving test and still passed me. I think that’s pretty appalling and might start to explain why I see people driving like Kamikaze pilots on a daily basis. Another bizarre thing to note is that my British license was valid for me to use in the state of Florida for the first thirty days that I lived her. So, technically, I could have failed my test and still driven away from the test center. This is why so much crazy shit happens in Florida.
Fortunately for me though I got my license! This means that finally all of the paperwork that surrounded me in a circle on the floor three weeks ago is done with and I can dedicate myself fully to being a graduate student i.e. finding time to take naps! Less fortunately, I have an extra form of identification with a terribly embarrassing photo….