About two weeks ago, I was denied an Ohio driver’s license because I was too busy to go to the BMV for the previous two years of weekends. For example, this morning (I’m writing this draft on a Sunday) I woke up around 8:30, made coffee, read in bed for three hours, and took a nap at 11:30 A.M. No idea how I’ll ever have kids.
I had to take a road test last Saturday if I wanted a license. I should have practiced for the maneuverability section (which tests applicants’ abilities to back up and judge distances), but it took me several days just to understand the explanatory diagram on the BMV website. My spatial intelligence is horrendous. You know the standardized tests in grade school that showed folded pieces of paper with holes punched in them and asked you to imagine where the holes would be when you unfolded the paper? I never had a clue, even on the easiest ones. I like words. I didn’t understand why anyone cared.
So I watched a YouTube video some dad posted of his teenage daughter practicing the course, wasted a few minutes of my life reading the nasty comments people had felt compelled to write to this guy because they thought he’d left too much space between the cones he’d set up, and drove to the testing center.
After a short wait among the sixteen-year-olds, a man in black pants and an Ohio BMV jacket and knit hat called my name. He looked like he was about thirty and would have preferred to be literally anywhere else on earth. We went out to my car and after he checked my brake lights and turn signals, he got in and directed me onto the road. He did not say a single word except to tell me where to turn.
We didn’t drive on the freeway; just through a couple subdivisions and back to the BMV office for the maneuverability section of the test. In order to pass the test in Ohio, you have to drive through a parking space made of four cones and out in front of it a few yards to the right or left (the instructor chooses the direction). Then you have to back into the space and reverse all the way through it, stopping when your front wheels are between the two cones at the back of the space. If you knock over a cone, you fail automatically.
These cones were so close together I worried I’d hit one as I drove forward, but I managed to drive straight for ten feet. The instructor told me to go to the left of the fifth cone at the top of the spot as I approached it. “Okay, now reverse,” he said.
I put my car in reverse but didn’t move. I looked around but couldn’t see any of the cones. I ended up gazing straight ahead with an idiotic grin as I backed up, turning my wheel slightly to the left. Now I could sort of see the cones on the right side of the parking space, but I heard my bumper tap the left cones as I started to straighten out. I slammed on the brakes hard enough to jerk the instructor’s head forward even though I’d been inching back at about a mile per hour. The cone didn’t fall over, though. “Um, can I go back out and try again?” I asked. He nodded.
I drove out of the spot and started over, but quickly put myself in the exact same position. Images suddenly flashed before my eyes — the cigarette-smelling waiting area where I’d have to sit around and wait for a license if I passed, my cozy white down comforter in my sunlit apartment. I turned the wheel this way and that. I kept backing up instead of going out to try a third time, and a cone thudded to the ground.
“Okay, we’re all set,” the instructor said and directed me back to the main area of the parking lot. “So, do I just go in and reschedule?” I said after a minute.
“You’ll just have to come back and take the maneuverability again. A couple things on your driving. You should always turn into the lane closest to you. And when you went to take a left out of the subdivision, you pulled right into the middle instead of staying to the right. If a car would have come and tried to turn in you would have failed the driving too, because you’d have been obstructing his view. You can get out now.”
I actually sort of felt bad after that, but as I normally do in awkward situations, I laughed. The instructor looked at me like I was crazy. Little did he know I was also twenty-five. “Okay. Thanks,” I told him and rescheduled my test for next week. Unfortunately for my dad, my weekend plans now involve orange cones in the Hillside Middle School parking lot. The more things change…
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!