So, this happened today:
I received my first one of these 30 years ago, at age 17, in the United States. The Connecticut written was a bitch and a half and I was one wrong answer from failing. But I made it through to the driving portion of the test.
And the driving section? All right turns. No manoeuvres. I drove around the fucking block. No kidding. All those hours of parallel parking practice. Gone to waste.
So in late 2014 I spoke to my mom, knowing we were going to be in California summer ’15, and asked if she and step-dad would pay for me to take driving lessons here in Belfast and take the test and so on. And she agreed, eager to have me independently mobile while we were there.
So I applied for my Provisional License and was granted that. And called Abba Driving school as I had seen them around my area quite a lot and how cool is their name? The nice lady took my name, my payment info and told me someone would contact me soon.
It was sometime in late November or December of that year and I didn’t expect to hear until after the holidays. Instead just a few hours later I had my first contact from John, aka Mr Patient. And so we began.
From the beginning John agreed I knew how to drive. I just needed to practice driving on the left and roundabouts. Oh My Lord roundabouts. We’ll get back to those…
In any case, I practised. And studied for my theory. And practised some more.
In March John said I was certainly getting close to being able to take my practical and should book my theory. So I did. And studied some more. And passed that with flying colours. Phew. First hurdle passed!
But California was drawing nearer and times to take the test were getting harder to get (thanks to bad staffing levels, that was fixed later by the DVA), so John told me to book my practical. I was ready. There was no reason I wouldn’t pass.
Famous last words.
My first go, I was apparently too close to the left. John was in the car for that one and he thought the guy was a hard ass. Based on some comments he made, I think he flunked me due to being American.
So I didn’t have my license for California. There was no time to practice more and book another test before we went.
So I booked my second test. And totally blew a roundabout. Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!
So I booked my third test. And totally blew a roundabout. Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!
Thanks. Had to get that out one more time. 😀
So I booked my fourth test. And nearly hit a car that was parked too far out into the road after I had absolutely passed the rest. It was so bad the examiner actually grabbed the wheel and put his brakes on. That’s bad.
So I took a deep breath and booked another.
And today, 4th April 2016, after 16 months of lessons and 5 tries, I passed. I aced it, actually. Only 5 minor faults (you’re allowed 16) and smooth sailing all the way!
And I never have to do that again. Thank fuck.
But I didn’t do it alone:
First and foremost, thanks to Shelly and Burt Kagen, my mom and step-dad for their financial support. We couldn’t afford one set of lessons and one test, let alone nearly a year and half of the same. And for their confidence that I would get it. I did it!!!
Of course, thanks to my husband and son, who had so much confidence in me that they bought and signed this over a year ago.
There was a box of chocolates as well, but those were eaten for comfort after the first fail. 😀
Without their unwavering support, always, I would have given up ages ago. I came home crying from failing more than once, certain I’d never get it.
Every time my tears were dried and hugs were given and encouragement to try try again.
And finally, there’s John McGibbon, Mr Patient himself. (He even used to have a Mr Patient, with a Mr Man character picture, magnet on his car, but they made him take it down for copyright reasons.) John’s cool demeanour, unwavering confidence in me and excellent instruction are 100% what got me here today. He took this cocky American driver and turned her into an even better driver than she already was. And I was pretty damn good. 😀
So thanks John. Like I said today, if you’re still teaching in about 10 years? You can teach my Adam how to drive!