Thursday, November 22, 2012

Driving Exam 1.5

I can't really call it driving exam 2.0 because the first time I just showed up and nothing happened.  But yet this was still my second attempt today.  The day started off great - picked up my turkeys for our belated Thanksgiving this coming Saturday and then picked up my CAR (yes, my CAR - felt I needed to say it twice).  So far so good.

I left the house at 11 to get to my 12:15 driving exam at 12.  Early American, that's me!!  And given the 2 hour delay last week, I figured I had time on my side.  That was, til my instructor called me at 11:35 and asked me where I was.  Um, on the metro because my exam isn't til 12:15 right?  Apparently they had been flying thru exams all morning and were running, get this, early.  That's like a swear word in Barcelona.  Early.

Regardless, I was there by 12, a full 15 minutes early.  And by 12:05 I was in the car ready to take my test.  No time to worry!!  I felt pretty confident overall.  I think the fact that last week was such a clusterfuck that the stress of taking the test was really no longer evident.

My instructor and the examiner talked during the entire test.  This has it's pros and cons - the pro is that I felt the instructor wouldn't be paying as much attention to nitpicky details.  And the con is that when she would give me an instruction on how to turn she barely took a breath from the conversation.  So she would be saying "blah blah blah izquirda blah blah blah" so I actually had to pay closer attention to what she was saying to figure out if she was talking to me or talking to my instructor.  A bit of a distraction and a few times I had to ask her to repeat what she said.

I have to say, I felt pretty great during the test.  There was minimal traffic and at the one or two intersections I was unsure of there was a car ahead of me so I was able to see the traffic pattern ahead of time.  I turned where I should turn, stayed in the lane I was supposed to be in.  Stopped when I should stop.  I felt great.

But the test lasted only about 10-15 minutes and is really supposed to be 30-40 minutes.  I thought, well, I've heard that if they feel pretty confident about you right away, you're in.  But I've also heard if you fail they just bring you back to the starting point again and you get out.  But everything felt perfect and so I thought, hey maybe, just maybe, I'm the former here.  And maybe, today could be a "perfect" Spain day.  Is there such a thing?

No, that's a foolish thought.  There is NO SUCH THING as a perfect Spain day.  Now, here's the thing here.  After your exam the examiner does not actually tell you if you passed or failed.  They talk to your instructor and your instructor can haggle on your behalf stating things like, "she's been driving for over 20 years so please keep that in mind" kind of stuff.  So I get out of the car and I'm waiting.  And he hands her a cigarette and they both light up and they are chatting.  At this point I don't even think they were chatting about me, I think they were chatting about something completely irrelevant, but who knows.

Eventually she walks away with barely a glance in my direction.  So I ask Edu... and????  And he shows me the paper that shows all passing scores and then a line where it has a space to write why someone failed.  And there on my paper was a failing sentence...couldn't tell you what it actually said but here is the gist of it.

At a stop sign in Spain (I can't remember if this is the case in the US for taking the test or not), you must stop twice, completely.  First behind the stop sign/white line.  And the second into the intersection where you have line of sight.  I stopped completely...twice.  However, according to the examiner, I didn't stop far enough into the intersection the second time despite the fact that after I stopped I continued to yield to make sure no one was coming.  My instructor claims he tried to defend me on this and that it was not a reason to fail a driver, much less a seasoned one.  But apparently she had failed others for it today and so therefore felt she couldn't not fail me for it - because, you know, I was going to compare notes with people I don't even know to see exactly where they failed and why???  Um, I don't think so.  There is no reason she couldn't have made this change or I don't know, taken me to another stop sign to see if I made the same mistake twice.

So while I certainly am disappointed and annoyed by this turn of events, it is in no way a shock to me given the horror stories I've heard about the exam.  Nor am I curled up in the fetal position crying my heart out as I write this.  In fact, I'm almost (if it wasn't such a pain in the ass to do it again) amused by the whole thing.  And given it's an ahhh Spain moment, the fact that she decided I didn't come far enough into the intersection does not at all surprise me.  And so, next week I'll do it all again and you can bet I will be stopping in the middle of the intersection.

In the meantime, I've got myself a car, a US passport that has been stamped in the last 6 months and a US drivers license.  Everyone else here does it so who am I to say no?  And next week I'll hopefully be posting about Driving Exam 2.5 with a big smile after it!!


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