Saturday, June 05, 2010

Driving Dilemma Part 2

Remember my driving dilemma last year? Well, here's a sequel to it - and I wouldn't call it much of a dilemma anyways.

After almost a year staying in Chicago, I decided to go for a driver's license. The first hurdle - appearing for the written test. Now, I have been thinking of giving that exam since the time I landed here, but I had been "discouraged" by people and friends, by dutifully informing me that such exams are tough and require a lot of preparation. But this sense of discouragement was finally replaced with a sense of hope, when out of curiosity, I decided to have a look at some of the questions and find out what all the fuss was about. End result - I read the traffic manual for a day, and passed the written test with flying colors. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning!

Next hurdle - appear for a road test - and, I thought - "How difficult can that be? Join a driving school, get a couple of driving lessons, and go ahead and give the exam." Well, that's what I did.

Wait, before I proceed to what happened at the driving test, let me explain my first day here behind the wheels. Having driven all my life on the other side of the road, my reflexes while driving needed to be adjusted. The first day I drove here, I invariably turned on the windscreen wipers when all I wanted to do was to hit the turning indicator switch. Well, after a lot of practice (and when I write "a lot", I mean "A LOT"), I was finally able to get over that habit.

Now, the D-day. Woke up early, the driving school instructor takes me to the farthest driving test center possible (yes, it was around 45 min drive). I wait for the examiner in the car. When he finally turns up, all he does is extend his hand through the window of the car. And I, as expected, extend my hand - with the intention of shaking his hand and greeting him (well, that's what we do, right?). Now, this guy gets all worked up, and says, "I am not your pal, so don't even bother. Just hand me the insurance papers." Crazy guy! Well, I hand him the papers. He sits beside me and instructs me to drive. Just coming out of the parking lot, I stop near a "Stop" sign, and wait for a couple of seconds, before turning left. The guy screams "Didn't you see the car coming from the right?", and I look to my right and see that the car is still way behind. I could have easily made the turn if he had not interrupted. The guy, furious, asks me to go back to the facility, and park the car. Disappointed (and angry), I park the car. Well, that was it - he fails me in the test.

I schedule for another test for the next week, and, thankfully, nothing eventful happens this time, and I get my driving license.

Now after driving in and around Chicago, reminds me how much I like driving - I loved driving when I was in Calcutta, where people didn't care if you shifted your lanes without hitting the indicator button, and driving here, where you can be fined if you don't stop before a STOP sign.

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