At this age though, it's more of an inconvenience than anything else. Standing in line, waiting your turn...it never fails that you just happen to pick the "busiest day of the week" to sign in.
This time was different though. There really weren't a lot of people in front of me and my wait was fairly short. Things were going great...or so I thought.
Taking my seat, the person across the table was pleasant and professional. "Good afternoon Ma'am."
"Hi, how are you?"
"Fine, thank you. Let's go ahead and get started."
Genuinely thinking that all I had to do was turn in my old license, pay the 32 dollars and get my picture taken, I was more preoccupied with having a bad hair day for the photo, than anything else.
"Do you wear contacts or glasses Ma'am?"
"Okay, then go ahead and place your forehead against the bar and look into viewer."
Leaning forward, I looked into what felt like the old "View-Master" I had as a kid, then got a little nervous when a light came on, showing a whole page of different things.
"Please say the first line Ma'am."
(Okay, I've got this.)
Peering through to letters that were smaller than little ants, I verbally stated each one as quickly as I could. Looking below them, I noticed a whole page of street signs and suddenly, a pit began to grow in my stomach.
Pulling my forehead away, I smiled and said, "Okay thanks! Am I all set?"
Looking confused, the person nodded towards the View-Master. "Go ahead and continue Ma'am."
"Yes, Ma'am. Continue. There's a whole page of signs you need to complete."
"Ummmmm, but...I didn't realize there was a test. I thought for just a renewal, all I had to do was pay and get one made."
"Sorry Ma'am. I'm sure you'll do fine. Please state the signs now."
My hands were sweaty, my throat dry. I wanted nothing more than to back away from the table. I began having flashbacks to my 16th birthday, when my dad took me to take my very first driver's test. There was a man assigned to me that held his clipboard with all dear life against his chest as he got in the car...as if he knew.
I began to drive. Were my hands supposed to be at 3 and 9? 2 and 10? Everything was running together, when out of nowhere, a man on a bicycle pulled out in front of me. I panicked, wondering if I should go around him, drive ridiculously slow the whole time and stay behind him or stop altogether. Every second of the test seemed like an eternity.
What was worse, was the parallel parking. I don't know if they even do that anymore, but back in the day, they put five cones out that you had to maneuver throughout without knocking over. I pulled forward between them, shifted around them and knew there was no way to get out of them without hitting one...or three. The only person more surprised than I was when I backed out was the man beside me, when all five cones were still standing. Looking over, I saw my dad in the parking lot with his jaw dropped and eyes as big as golf balls.
"Did I pass?" I choked out to the poor man.
"I don't know." He muttered. "In all my years, I've never seen anyone do that, so I don't really know what to say. Technically, all five cones are standing, so I suppose...yes?"
I screamed and gave him a hug, then ran out and hugged my dad.
Even though that was a long time ago, the memories flooded immediately back, reminding me of how much I hated driver's tests and everything about them.
Pushing my forehead against the bar again, there were about 13 different signs. I pumped myself up, thinking it couldn't be that hard. There was only one problem...some of the signs had NOTHING on them. I mean like, nothing. Just a shape.
Sure, a yield sign is easy, or a "No U-Turn" when it's written right there to read, but what about these?
"I don't know! There's a circle, a pendant, a house and a rectangle..."
"Excuse me Ma'am?" The person across the table was noticeably confused.
"I don't know what they are! The others I can get because they have words or pictures. These are blank though."
"Take your time and think about it Ma'am. What sign is shaped like a circle?"
"A railroad crossing, but..."
"It's as easy as that."
"Okay, then there's a house over there..."
"A house, Ma'am?"
"Oh, sorry, yeah. The one looks like a house."
"Who lives in a house Ma'am?"
"A family. Kids...SCHOOL! It's a school sign!"
Even though I couldn't see it, I knew the person was smacking their head.
I eventually made it through, miserably hating every minute of it...but made it nonetheless.
Frazzled, I moved to the next station to get my picture taken which I'm sure will be hideous, then completed the last of the paperwork before I could go.
They said my new license would be mailed to me sometime soon, but I'm not looking forward to getting it. I'm glad it's over though and next time around I'll know to study, even though it's only a renewal. You can bet your boots the next time around, I'll know my signs. Especially the circles, houses and squares.
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