I wasn’t going to write a post about my second and third road tests – at first, I thought I might have enough shame to conceal the fact that there was a third test. If you’re seeing an inconsistency between this and the fact that I think it’s fun to write about myself on the internet, well, here we are. If you’re wondering how I lost my driving privileges, you can catch up here and then here.
I spent the time between failing my first maneuverability test and my next attempt at home for Christmas, unsure if this would be a blessing or a curse when it came to practicing my maneuvers. On one hand, I knew the area and could probably think of a parking lot where I wouldn’t awkwardly run into the parent of a high school classmate. On the other, I have like five friends in Columbus and we all live in one of two neighborhoods, so maybe I had better odds of staying hidden there.
I eventually decided on an old Blockbuster Video location. I borrowed a tape measure from my dad, found a stack of soccer cones in the garage, and off I went in boots with a three-inch heel and no gloves. I careened around the alley behind the building setting up the course and then narrated each turn of the wheel to myself as I navigated it in my car just to be sure anyone who happened to see me thought I was crazy.
When I returned to Columbus and the BMV between Christmas and the New Year, I was an old pro like all the people who kept getting their licenses taken away for actual crimes. I went straight to the correct desk to check in and sat down in the waiting area. A much friendlier employee than the one who administered my last test called my name after less than five minutes, and we made our way to the maneuverability course.
The whole thing was over in about sixty seconds. My strategy, which I picked up from this lovely video, was to stay as close as possible to the cones on the near side of the spot so as not to risk hitting the ones on the opposite side. Once the instructor directed me to drive to the front of the course, I put the car in reverse, cut the wheel, took my foot off the brake, and started straightening out as I backed in. I had set myself up perfectly; I was about to glide right through without a pause. And then I heard a soft thunk as my rear bumper knocked a cone to the ground – an automatic failure.
My initial surprise turned into frustration and anger as we went back inside to schedule another appointment.
“Okay, Miss Miller, we will see you next Tuesday at 1 p.m. The state makes you wait seven days between attempts, so that’s the soonest we can get you back in.”
“I CAN’T come back next Tuesday at 1 p.m. I have a DAY job.” (I’ll admit to thinking this although I didn’t actually say it.)
“That doesn’t work? Okay, we have next Saturday at 11 a.m.”
“Perfect. Thank you.”
I walked back out to the parking area designated for road test takers and drove away alone, ignoring the skeptical gaze of an instructor who had just begun working with the teenager and her mom parked next to me.
Another reason I almost didn’t write this post was that my third test conflicted with the funeral of my great-aunt, who had passed away earlier that week. The fact that I couldn’t attend because of this sort of made me chuckle and sort of made me feel like a garbage person.
Any hope the driving instructors didn’t know I had failed twice before evaporated when this one climbed into my passenger seat and asked why I was having so many problems. He was a nice guy, though, and let me choose which side to back in from (normally they just direct you out to one side or the other). He gave me a couple useless tips and then I got started, taking more care this time and leaving my window down to stick my head out even though I wasn’t sure that was allowed. I hugged the cones I could see to my left and inched through the spot, wincing. With a sigh of relief, I made it all the way through and put the car in park, adrenaline pumping. “DID I PASS?” I asked.
“Yes ma’m. I deducted just a couple points cause you finished a little crooked, but you passed. You can pull around now and park in any open spot in front of the building.”
I thanked the instructor and proceeded to spend two hours reading an issue of Harper’s Bazaar cover to cover while I waited to get my license. And with that, the lie I’d been living was over.