I’m still pissed that I failed my first road test twelve years ago

If there’s one thing I’d love to go back in time and redo, it’s my road test. The first one. The one that I screwed up. It seems like a crazy thing to obsess over, but it was such a scam. There’s no reason why I should have failed that first time around. I think the whole system was set up against my passing.

Whatever, tell it to the judge, right? Yeah, well, find me a judge, get me a cheap lawyer, let’s go back into those DMV records, I want to find out just who administered my road test. Let’s get her on the stand and make her swear under oath that I didn’t deserve to pass it that time. Scratch that, if she was willing to lie the first time around, about my driving ability, she’ll probably lie to the judge anyway.

Nobody deserved his license more than I did. From a very early age, all I ever wanted to do was to drive a car. I have very vivid memories of me being a little kid, strapped in some car seat in the back of my parents’ station wagon, dreaming of the day when I’d be able to get behind the wheel and drive myself around. As I got closer to turning sixteen, time conspired against me, each day that passed felt like a year, ever closer to gaining my license yet infinitely further away.

Sometime in between my fifteenth and sixteenth birthday, I had everything set up, all of the paperwork filled out for my learner’s permit, my application for driver’s ed. All I had to do was wait for the earth to complete another partial revolution around the sun so that I’d finally reach that arbitrary age that our government decided was old enough for me to officially begin to learn how to drive.

I turned sixteen. Learner’s permit, check. All I had to do now was sit around some classroom every week for a couple months and watch boring educational videos on such compelling topics as, learning that you’re not supposed to play with the radio volume while you’re on the highway, or, understanding that getting cut off in traffic does not entitle you to pull a crowbar out of your trunk and start smashing the offender’s windshield in.

Even the instructor’s knew that driver’s ed was a joke. Our behind-the-wheel lessons consisted of us splitting our time between running errands around town for the teacher and going to get ice cream at various locations around Long Island. I think the final exam included a collage, magazine clippings glued to poster board like it was some sort of a rinky-dink teen-driving convention.

I didn’t totally mind however, because it was at least something to do, a reason to get out of the house. Plus, I actually got to spend time behind the wheel. It was a tease, sure, looking over at my instructor in the passenger’s side, he had this extra brake installed by his feet I guess so if I lost control or something.

After I accumulated the necessary classroom hours, I was able to set up my driver’s test. And this was where it counted. This was everything that I had been waiting for, the chance to prove to a representative of New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles that I, Rob G., was ready to join the ranks of the licensed to drive.

So I showed up to take my test and the inspector pulls up in a Chevy Cavalier. “Wait a second,” I asked her, “I have to take my driver’s test in this? What about my car, the one I’ve been practicing on?” And she agreed, yeah, usually you do get to take it in your own car. But for reasons that she refused to divulge, I’d be taking it in the Cavalier.

I hopped in the front seat and tried to move the seat back. “Don’t move the seat back,” she snapped. “Why? I’m like six foot three, come on.” And she just glared at me. In that moment, while she was probably already deciding that she’d fail me for having the nerve to adjust my seat to an appropriate position, I got a good idea at what I was up against. I don’t think this lady had a soul. She appeared miserable, like the only joy she had left to hope for in life was denying a guy like me my right to the open road.

“Pull out here and go straight,” she mumbled. I pulled out. I started going straight. “Make a right at the light.” I made a right at the light. “OK, pull over, you failed.”

What? I failed? Why? What did I do? She wouldn’t tell me. She wouldn’t say anything. She made me get out of the driver’s seat and drove us the block back to the starting point. It was obvious to everyone standing around that I had failed. She handed me a yellow slip of paper that awarded me absolutely zero points toward my road test. What a bunch of bullshit. I had to wait like three months before I was allowed to even schedule another test, one that I passed without any problems.

Whatever, I guess I should get over it. I don’t even have a car anymore. Still, I can’t believe that I failed. Everybody else in my family passed right away. Do you know how pissed off I get every time a road test conversation gets going? Everybody pointing and laughing, talking about how I’m the worst driver in the family.

I’m the best driver in the family! Oh, how I wish I could go back and redo it. But what would I even do differently? I don’t know. This lady had it out for me. Maybe I’d just reschedule. Or I’d fake a seizure. I don’t know. Or I’d let the person in front of me go ahead while I pretend to try to find my permit, hoping that I’d get a different instructor. I have no idea. It doesn’t matter I guess. But I still think back and I get really pissed off. Because I am the best driver in the family, I swear!

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