Thursday, November 29, 2012

Driving Legally... Finally!!

Finally, I've passed my driving test. While this process only really took 9 weeks, it felt like it was 9 months.  Between my 2 full weekends (40 hours) of driving school, two times to pass the written exam, 1 driving class, then a second class the day before my first exam that never happened because they had me registered wrong, then a failed exam and now, finally, finally, I've passed!

But don't get me wrong.  This is Barcelona and nothing just happens because it's supposed to.  Let's start with the fact that I was supposed to take a last class before my exam in the area where the exam was going to be given.  Knowing my exam was today, Thursday, I expected this class to be yesterday and texted my instructor during the day to find out the details.  No answer... 5:30.  That's when he called to say my exam would be at 9AM this morning.  Not a whole lot of time for practice before that, especially in a country where most businesses don't even open til 10.

However, he was determined to get me some kind of lesson and around 8:30 last night finally called me back with the details.  I would meet the other driving instructor at 6:45AM.  Yes, 6:45.  I didn't even know people woke up that early here much less conducted business ;)  And so, I was up at 5:45, out the door at 6:20 and on my way to my class.

The class wasn't really a class for me but more for another instructor's students, I just got to watch so I could see the route.  I started off in a manual (which started to freak me out thinking they screwed this up yet again) with another student driving.  Finally after about 15 minutes we pulled up next to the automatic.  Big sigh of relief there!!   I drove to the part of the city (Poble Sec) where the exam would be held.  Not a big deal and I certainly wasn't too worried about any bad habits etc until I got to Poble Sec.  The moment we got to Poble Sec though the instructor had me get out and had another student get in to drive.  Ok, so I'm not going to drive at all in this area where my exam is??  What was the point of me driving here then???

Anyways, this woman who drove in Poble Sec, god love her, she sucked.  Like I was nauseous and ready to puke in the back.  She was about 10 years older than me at least and I think she said she was getting her license so that her husband didn't always have to drive.  God love her husband too.  Because the instructor had to use the break several times and had to grab the steering wheel too.  Poor lady, I was thinking, there is no way she's going to pass... but maybe she'll go before me and make me look better.  Always a bright side I say :)

In the end I got to drive less than 10 minutes around Poble Sec.  Enough between my watching scary woman drive and my 8 minutes that I felt decent about the test only her instructor didn't mention any traps to look out for.  That's what gets you every time with these tests.  Not that the tests are hard, but there are tiny little things that people are always getting caught on.  So while I came out of the "class" feeling good, I wasn't as confident as I was last week since I didn't feel I had a great grasp on where I could go wrong in the exam.

Regardless, I was right, the older woman did go before me.  And guess what, she passed!!  Yes, turns out it was her 6th time taking the exam.  And it boosted my confidence because seriously, her driving is what will cause accidents in the future.  No, I'm not perfect, but this woman lacked confidence driving and you need that to survive driving anywhere, much less in the city.

Technically my exam was next.  However, there was a younger girl who was soooo nervous.  And my instructor was also her instructor.  So he asked me if I would mind waiting a little bit so she could go first.  Who am I to say no?  Ok, I really wanted to say no so I could get it done and over with, not to mention, I really had to pee by then.  But I couldn't be that big of a bitch because karma will get you...

Now each instructor rides with their student.  So the woman and a young girl drove with Marcos.  But there was still one more exam to be taken on both the manual and automatic car before they could drive back to the driving school.  So while my instructor, Edu, was out in the manual on the exam with nervous girl, Marcos and his two students decided to go to breakfast.  He locked up the automatic and I said to him, "should I take the keys since I'm next and Edu could be back at any time?".  His response, "no, Edu has a set of keys"... insert alarm bells here...

You knew this day wasn't going to go seamlessly, didn't you?  It's just not possible.  Because not 5 minutes later, Edu comes back with his failed student and he asks me where Marcos is with the keys.  I told him, he went to breakfast (I also felt the need to insert here that I asked Marcos for the keys but he didn't feel he needed to give them to me).  Ah yes, it's my turn and WE HAVE NO KEYS TO THE CAR!!  Seriously.  I think this shit only happens to me.

The examiner seemed a bit put off at having to wait which only annoyed me more. Why o why didn't I tell that nervous girl to step off, it's my turn????  Because then I wouldn't be in this situation where he's probably going to fail me just because he's annoyed with my instructor.  Edu, meanwhile has run off looking in every cafe around for him because Marcos has, of course, turned off his cell phone.  Of course he has.

Eventually Edu returns emptyhanded and I'm near a panic thinking yet again, they are going to refuse to test me for something that is out of my control.  And then the examiner walks off.  Edu comes to me and tells me, "he is going to breakfast".  Yes, the examiner decided rather than wait for Marcos (smart move) that he would go eat his breakfast.  According to Edu, he had told Edu he could do breakfast before or after my exam and initially Edu had requested that we do it before but given these circumstances, perhaps now is best.

So my hope was that there was no hard feelings since in a way we did not inconvenience him.  But it meant waiting at least another 30 minutes before my exam.  And yup, I really really have to pee now!!! And why haven't I gone?  Because you don't take the exam in front of the DGT (Spain's RMV) building or anything - there are random streets that are assigned where you meet to take these exams.  So we are on a street corner and given that I keep thinking it's my turn I've been afraid to leave to go to a cafe to go pee...had I know I'd be waiting 2 hours again, I might have seized that opportunity much earlier!!!

Eventually Marcos returned and handed Edu the keys.  He didn't look all that sorry but I don't really care how sorry he is so long as I have the keys and can take the test.  This instructor was much much better than last week's.  However, this area was less familiar to me.  So I was still more nervous than I anticipated.  However, compared to last week's instructor who would talk to Edu and insert an instruction as she was talking, he was amazing - he would talk to Edu and then say "Julie, izquierda" so I would always know when he was talking to me.  This in and of itself was a huge relief.

The test itself was fine.  I was iffy on if I passed or not only because I had one left turn that he asked me to make and I wasn't sure if I could turn left (it was a weird rotary type of intersection but wasn't really a rotary???) and so I did not turn left there and then couldn't make a left.  I immediately thought I failed but apparently I passed.  Given I was uber confident last week and then failed, I suppose a little humility isn't a bad thing.

The difference in the examiners?  Last week wanted every single move to be perfect and by the book.  This week's was more concerned with are you prepared to drive?  Are you capable of making good decisions and following the general rules of the road?  Yup, I liked him much better.

And so I was super excited when Edu told me I passed.  He didn't go over any of my infractions (if there were any) and to be honest, I don't think I would have wanted to know because it would have ruined the cloud I was in.  So what next?  How do I get my actual license?  Do we go somewhere??

No, this is Spain.  In 4 business days (or so), I will go pick up my permissory drivers license which I'm guessing is a piece of paper that says I can drive.  And then in a few weeks (yes weeks) I will get my actual license.  No instant gratification here.  So fingers crossed that in the next few days I don't get pulled over because those kids aren't getting home from school on their own today!

Now I've got to figure out what I should do for my next Spanish challenge...


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