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How to Flunk Your Way to a Learners Permit
After a whole semester of driver’s ed, I’m finally ready to take the written test for my learner’s permit. Is half of this information even necessary for actual driving? Do I truly need to know how many points go on my record for not yielding to an emergency vehicle? I don’t get the logic, but I guess the state of New Jersey sees otherwise.
Okay, this is going to be easy. I know how many feet you have to stop from a fire hydrant. Ten, right? No, wait, maybe it’s fifteen. Whatever. If I fail the test this time, I can just take it again. After all, I’m allowed two free tests at school. I doubt I’ll fail, though. Even my brother passed, and the only thing he’s ever mastered is the television remote.
The teacher hands the test to me along with a scantron sheet. Hey, this actually looks pretty passable. I know this one, and this one, and this one, and . . . well, I think I know this one. Wait, how often do you have to get your car inspected? I guess I don’t know that one. Don’t panic. You know the rule: When all else fails, choose “C.” Besides, I’m allowed more than one wrong answer. Ten, to be exact.
Great, I’m all finished. Nothing left to do but hand the test back to my teacher. I’m satisfied. Now, on to studying for my math test next period.
Honestly, I’m pretty surprised I failed my first permit exam. I didn’t see that coming. After all, I studied -- well, kind of. Maybe I did procrastinate by taking a bunch of Buzzfeed quizzes about which member of the royal family I am (I’m the Queen, of course). But hey, at least I paid attention in class!
My Mom got ticked off that I failed, though, so she made me sit down at the kitchen table to study with her for round two. She even took a few practice tests online . . . which she failed. That was a real awakening for us both. She was surprised by how tricky the test is, and I was surprised by how many insanely filthy curse words she knows. I hope failing your learner’s permit test isn’t something that runs in my family.
The tests are passed out. Here we go again. I’m ready to try my best. I’m fairly certain I’ll pass this time, though, even if it’s just by a point or two. If I don’t, then I’m going to throw a gigantic fit. In my mind, of course. I’m not literally three years old.
Uh, what do you do when your car gets caught in a skid again? I think the book said that you take your foot off the gas and keep going the direction you want to travel. Wait, no! That just doesn’t sound like common sense. Wouldn’t you turn against the skid and floor it for dear life? That’s what I would do, while I was praying, or screaming, or both. But the first option still sounds correct, too! Yikes -- I just bit my nail to the quick. I’m going with “C” and calling it a day.
Whew, finished. Time to go have lunch. On second thought, I feel a little queasy.
Seriously? I failed twice? Who does that? This is so humiliating. Everyone else in my class already has their permits, even the kids who cut class and never cracked the spine of their driver’s ed manual.
For my third try, I’m required to take the test at the DMV, and get this: A certified driving instructor has to escort me there (for a fee, of course)! Yeah, Mom was really thrilled about that one. My instructor’s name is Elmer and he looks like his first car was a Model T. He probably has great-great-grandkids older than I am. On our way to the DMV, Elmer gives me a few words of encouragement. He tells me not to feel embarrassed because he once had a student who failed the test seven times. Records are made to be broken, I think to myself. Now I’m twice as nervous. Thanks, Elmer!
Walking into the DMV doesn’t exactly give me a sense of hope. Everyone there looks as if they got a total of four hours of sleep, and the staff all seem like they’ve got this rare illness that makes them physically unable to smile.
One of the men behind the counter directs me to sit at one of the computers. Wait a minute . . . I’m supposed to take this thing electronically?
Okay, maybe the test is more intuitive that way. I just hope the computer doesn’t tell me whenever I get an answer wrong . . . Oh no! It’s doing exactly that, flashing a big, red “X” on the screen! I’d bite my nails, but at this point, they’re basically stubs.
Hey, it’s only one wrong answer. Remember, you’re allowed ten. Correct, correct, correct . . . NO! I got another one wrong! You know, at this point, I should just get up and leave. Maybe I should press the help button? No, that would be embarrassing. I’m embarrassing. I should just live with never being able to drive, ever. I think I’d be a much happier person if that was the case.
Are the people standing in line behind me watching me? I think they’re watching me. I can feel them shaking their heads in pity at the poor girl who doesn’t know whether to park ten or fifteen feet from a fire hydrant. Great, now my heart is thumping. I can’t concentrate under this kind of pressure! There has to be some sort of government conspiracy that is purposefully making me fail. Yeah, that definitely explains it. At this point, the computer screen is just hieroglyphics to me. What do these questions even mean?
I give up. I seriously give up. Why does Mom even want me to try for a learner’s permit anymore? Isn’t she used to driving me everywhere at this point? She’s chauffeured me for sixteen years. What’s a few more?
On the way to the Fourth Circle of Hell (aka the DMV) for the second time, Elmer doesn’t give me encouragement. Instead, he gives me a worried look and asks me if I’m going to be sick.
At this point, I’ve accepted my fate. I’ll take the test again, I’ll fail again, and I’ll repeat that vicious cycle for all eternity. My parents will go bankrupt after spending all their money to pay Elmer to drive me back and forth from the DMV. I’ll be as old as Elmer and I still won’t have my learner’s permit, which is just as well, because I’ll no doubt be blind at that point.
Once we arrive, I despondently drag myself to the computer seat. I feel everyone’s eyes upon me again. People are probably thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the same girl from last week?” Yeah, it is, and you’ll be seeing me next week, too. And the week after that.
I don’t feel as much anxiety this time around, now that I know what it’s like to be told that I’ve failed by a computer.
Wait. Are you kidding me? I . . . I actually did it. I passed.
I got this, people! Time to hit the road!