What do you need to know for your permit test?

What do you need to know for your permit test? Perhaps a little more than you need to know for the do what you are test.

Anyway, as far as driving…

My story is a little different.

This is actually fresher in my mind than it is for a lot of people.  That’s because I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was almost nineteen (it’s a long story) (actually, it’s not that long; I went to high school outside the country, and you had to be eighteen to get your license; I did have a moped, though, and it was AWESOME!)  So, when I got back stateside, I finally had a chance to get my hands on that elusive license.  I did some practice driving in this sweet old Buick my parents had, not a ton, but enough to get the general idea.  I didn’t mess around with a drivers education or driver safety course.  I didn’t even get a learner’s permit.  “How hard could it be?” I thought.  “Learning to drive is easy!”

Of course, there is not just the practical part of the test, but a written exam.  I was even less worried about this part than the driving, though.  There is a book they give you that has all the answers in it, and the whole book is only about ten pages long.  I had the thing memorized in about five minutes.

The day finally came, and I headed down to the DMV office.  I was sure I was going to ace this thing on the first try.  And sure enough, I started out strong: the written test was a joke, the test questions almost too easy, and I finished with a 100% in two minutes flat.

Then it was out to the car to show them what I could do.  As you probably remember, one of the first things you have to do before you even leave the lot is show them how to signal with your arms.  The problems started there.  Not that I didn’t know how to do the signals, but that sweet, sweet Buick decided to give me troubles.  Yes, the Buick was old, and temperamental, and every once in a while, it decided not to let you roll down the driver’s side window.  Just that window.  So I went to signal, and the window would not go down.  “I’m sorry,” the woman said (thankfully a woman; I do much better in these situations with members of the gentler sex), “but you have to be able to put your arm out the window to take the test.”

“But I know how to do it.”  I said  “See?”  And I showed her, right there, in the middle of the parking lot.

“I’m sorry, honey.  Those are the rules.”

“Wait,” I said.  “You don’t understand…” stopping just short of dropping to my knees and flat out groveling.  I didn’t want to have to point out to her that I was almost 19, and thus getting dangerously close to pathetic.

“Look,” she said.  “I’m going to go inside and get a cup of coffee.  If you can get the window down by the time I get back, you’re on.”

So I got in the car.  And gently tried again.  Nothing.  Then I tried a little bit less gently.  Nothing.  Then I started screaming and flailing and pounding on every part of the car’s interior that I could reach.  At first, I guess not surprisingly, this didn’t work either.  But then, by some weird twist of fate, a flailing finger lodged on the automatic down button just as a flying elbow slammed into the middle of the door.  And presto, down it popped.

The lady came back out, and seemed genuinely happy for me.  And I was glad I was going to get my chance, but pretty worked up at that point.  So worked up, in fact, that I forgot to fasten my seat belt.  Strike one.

I backed up slowly, and pulled out into traffic.  I thought things were going well.  Sure, I kind of rolled through one stop light as I was turning right (strike two), and went over the speed limit a few times (strike three).  But all in all, I was keeping within the general parameters of the traffic laws.

Then came the make or break portion of the test: parallel parking.  Which I had never practiced at all.  But again, how hard could it be?  I thought she would take me someplace with two cars parked really far apart, or maybe even some traffic cones, and I could figure it out.  But no, she took me to this empty street, and said “okay, go ahead and parallel park.”

“Where?” I asked, confused.

“Wherever you want,” she said.

And somehow this made it harder, I’m not sure why.  But somehow, the lack of obstacles or guidance made it more difficult.  I attempted it two or three times, failing miserably with each effort, until the woman finally said something resigned and dismissive like “okay, that’s enough.”  And she instructed me to head back to the DMV parking lot.

I parked the car, and sat there waiting.  The minutes felt like millennia, as anyone that has been through that rite of passage can probably recall.  She was making all these check-marks on her clipboard as I held my breath.  Finally, she looked up, and I really wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.  But I smiled just the same.  Couldn’t hurt.

“Well…[insert loooonnnnggg pause]…I guess…I’m going to pass you.  But you be careful out there!”  And she gave me a little, almost imperceptible wink, and a light pat on the thigh.

And that was it.  And I have been driving like a maniac ever since.

So here is my advice on how to pass your permit test.  Don’t waste a lot of time or energy getting bogged down in a bunch of technical stuff like insurance requirements or memorizing obscure road signs.  Just dress nice, smell nice, work on a smile that looks equal parts sweet and desperate, and bring a hammer in case your car decides to get fussy.  See?  It’s easy.

Any other funny learning-to-drive experiences?

2 thoughts on “What do you need to know for your permit test?

  1. I took my driver’s test in Nevada, in a gigantic red van that was barely smaller than a firetruck.

    The test itself was uneventful. Most of my funny car-related experiences have to do with my inability to do any maintenance.

    Once I was on my way to pick up a date when I noticed that my Civic had a flat tire. I quickly jumped out and changed it, proud of how speedy I was.

    When I started driving something was still wrong. In my haste, I had changed a tire that wasn’t flat, and put the spare on. The flat tire was still flat.

    • That is an awesome story. I can relate. The only thing I know about cars is where to put the gasoline in, and even then, I sometimes struggle.

      One time I was moving across country, and I was towing a car on the back of a Uhaul with a trailer. I stopped at a rest stop and just so happened to notice that the straps that were supposed to be securing the car to the trailer had come loose, as had the back-up chains. Of course, I was the one that had put these straps and chains on. Incorrectly, of course. Basically, I had driven for about 4 hours with nothing but the e-brake keeping my car in place. I can just picture what that would have looked like in my rearview mirror, my car slipping off the trailer, and spinning wildly through the traffic behind me, broken glass and tire shreds and empty Mountain Dew cans (my car, at any given time, is full of about 36 of them), flying everywhere. I’m glad I only have to see it in my imagination.

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