Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teen Tara is Retroactively Annoyed

The story of my desire (or depending on who you talk to lack thereof) to drive has many versions in our family.  But I finally took the test when I was eighteen, which by the way was the year after my younger sister took her test.  My sister passed with flying colors.  At the time parking counted for up to ten points (failure to park was ten points off, parking too close or too far away was three).  Given you needed at least eighty points to pass and that parking occurred at the end of the test, it was often a make or break moment for testees.  My sister was actually told by her tester that she was already doing so well, the parking didn't really matter, she was passing either way before she did the parking section.
I was not given such a positive message from my tester.  I was a tiny bit nervous given I had been told a number of horror stories about the very first stop sign, how not getting your bumper behind the white line was an automatic fail. (I actually had someone tell me that happened to them, given what I know about the scoring system it seems unlikely and yet not something to test too hard).  Lending credence to this rumor was the fact that as I approached this first stop sign, there was a car stopped there.  I had noticed the car when we first arrived at the site, had seen it pull up to the stop sign, so knew it had been there a few minutes.  My tester advised me to pull around them. 
I did, but was secretly convinced the entire time that this was a trick, that as I crossed over that white line she would tell me to stop, that I had failed to stop correctly and had automatically failed and could never drive again.  So, I probably did the whole thing at a snail's pace.  The DC test was (and is) on actual roads.  There were turns, and lane changes and I had been warned that the return to the test site took you downhill and to watch my speed.  Then, back at the site, we came to parallel parking.  (Oh, and I hear it may have changed, but my driving instructor told me that Virginia didn't test parallel parking.)  I was doing this test in the family's Volvo station wagon which had an excellent turning ratio and yet left me not a lot of space between the car and the poles acting as other cars.  I erred on the side of caution slowly angling myself in, figuring I'd rather shift in and out a bunch of times than hit one of those poles.  (I don't recall anyone telling me that was automatic failure, but I remember treating them as if they were.)
After what seemed to me not that very long, but probably seemed longer to the tester, she declared me done and marked me as having failed and told me that I was not allowed to remove the car from it's space, only a licensed driver could do that.  My mother had failed her first test, and has said she thinks people who fail once are better drivers.  I'm not really sure that's true (and given that I'm the only one of her kids who failed the first time, she doesn't repeat that so much anymore).  I did pass fairly easily when I was back home from college the next year.  (And I did fine on the parking.  I think the fact that we arrived super early, leading to the tester taking me early before I had worked myself into any sort of state helped a lot.)
So, all of this happened when the testing center was in what is now a Home Depot.  The testing center moved across the street into a small shopping center, and when I drove my brother over there for a dry run, that was the part I told them I didn't know what they would do about.
Apparently they need a new solution