Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Driver's Test

On Thursday, my daughter will turn sixteen. I’m letting her sleep in a little late, will take her out for pancakes, and then we'll make the thirty minute drive to the driver’s license bureau.

After she takes her driver’s test, I’ll shuttle her to school. From that point on, I have a feeling the rest of the day will either be all smiles and happiness, or filled with tears and angst.

Yes, the stress of the upcoming test has overshadowed everything else. I think she’s in good company.

Do you remember when you took your driver's test? I sure do. It was my dad's job to take us to the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was a busy guy, and I remember standing in line next to him in his suit, a bundle of nerves.

We waited in line for what seemed like forever. My dad, who believed girls looked their best in heels and dresses, sought to lighten the mood by teasing me about the highway patrol officers. See, there were four patrol officers there, two men and two women. One of the female officers never smiled at anyone. She was at least six feet tall. Blond and brawny. Tough. She looked exactly like the type of person you'd want to come to your rescue if you were getting mugged.

To my sixteen-year-old eyes, she looked like exactly the wrong person to sit next to when attempting to parallel park. My dad-never one to be accused of being politically correct-called her Ms. Big.

Finally, after standing in line for over an hour, my turn came up. I was directed to walk to my car, and to wait for the officer there. My dad walked me to my spot. Gave me a hug and wished me good luck. And then he looked at the officer and grimaced.

Yep, you guessed it. There was Ms. Big with a clipboard in her hands and a giant scowl on her face. I thought I was going to throw up.

We got in. I put on my seat belt. "Insurance?"

"Pardon me?"

She glared. "Insurance?"

That's when my throat went dry. I pointed to my dad, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of us, kind of giving me a thumb's up. "My dad has it."

That was the wrong answer. Ms. Big frowned. "It's supposed to be in here. With you."

And that's when she wrote me a ticket.

I am the only person I know who somehow managed to get ticketed during a driver's exam. After she signed the ticket with flair, she rolled down her window, signalled my dad over, and barked at him to hand over the insurance card.

Until that moment, I had never seen anybody order my dad around! To my shock, he pulled out his wallet, fished out the card, and handed it to her without a word.

Up went her window. Out went the next command. "Drive."

I did! And, somehow, I passed my driver's test. Twenty minutes later, I was walking back to my dad, holding two sheets of paper. One had my test score on it. The other was a fifty dollar ticket.

I sincerely hope my daughter's experience will be far less eventful. Or, maybe not. My dad and I laughed about that test for years. And, well, it is a pretty good story.

Anyone else recall their driver's exam?



Heather Webber said...

LOLOLOL, Shelley. Gosh, I would have loved to know you back then. That story is priceless.

My exam was less eventful and stressful--so much so I barely remember it. I do recall not having to parallel park after I'd been practicing for months!

Good luck on Thursday!

shelley galloway said...

Hi Heather!
Thanks for the good wishes. As you know, here in Ohio, there's a maneuverability test-no parallel parking required!

Somehow I just don't think that's fair. Though, honestly, I now will do just about anything to avoid parallel parking.


Anonymous said...

Shelley, I knew there was a reason I loved you (wel, actually there are many, LOL) but I, too, had a memorable experience...

The guy said to take my first left--only he meant up at the INTERSECTION, not onto the one way road that I, in my state of incoherent nerves, mistakenly turned onto (you guessed it, going the wrong way).

At least you passed. Apparently breaking the law is an automatic failure :-)

Tanya, who also had to parallel park to get her DL and now avoids it like the plague

EllenToo said...

I barely remember my driver's test but I do know I did not have to parallel park and to this day I try to avoid parallel parking whenever I park. By the way I was a college freshman before I got my license but I didn't have access to a car until then and only on special occasions when I finally did get it.

Sara said...

I can remember trying to learn how to parallel park forever...and I somehow managed to do it for the test.

No that I live in NH - I have to parallel park a lot - it seems that everywhere I go around here there are only parallel parking spaces!

Good luck to your daughter!!!

Estella said...

My drivers test was 50 years ago. I remember parallel parking and having to stop on an hill and start without rolling back too far and not killing the engine. Of course most cars were stick shifts then.
I did pass.

Marianne Arkins said...

I got so busted for not looking over my shoulder before changing lanes. Is there anything more frightening than seeing the instructor write something on his paper??

Funny that I remember it so clearly. It was ... uh... a long time ago!

Good luck to your daughter!

shelley galloway said...


Your story beats mine! I would have burst into tears if I'd driven the wrong way on a one-way street!

By the way, I smiled the whole day when I read your post about your mother in law's soup. Homemade noodles! oh my!


shelley galloway said...


now that we're counting down the hours until my daughter's test, I'm thinking college would be a fine time to take that exam!

Here's to never having to parallel park again!


shelley galloway said...


I'm glad you're a parking champ now! I always tell my husband we don't live up east, where I hear parallel parking is an everyday thing.


shelley galloway said...


I first drove a stick shift when I was in college in Boulder, CO. Oh, those hills in the snow! That took some getting used to.

I can't imagine taking my driver's test in a standard car, but I guess plenty of people do just fine.


Megan Kelly said...

Hey, Shelley, your story made me laugh! My dd took her test in March and my ds will by year's end. Which is strange because I'm sure neither of my babies could be old enough to drive! lol I see the 6th is open, so be sure to update us on your dd's success.

shelley galloway said...

Great idea, Megan!

Since we had a snow day yesterday and it's 3 below right now, I have a feeling that today...anything could happen!

Hey, it's nice to know we have kids who are about the same age. My son is 17.