Driving Test

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Taking the driving test can be a bit daunting when you haven't done it in 60 years!

I'm 76 and must take the driving test again. I haven't taken a driving test in 60 years, and I'm scared. I hate to admit it because I just encouraged my 16-year-old granddaughter to take it, telling her “nothing to it, you'll do fine.” Now I'm in her shoes without the sharp mind, quick reflexes, and assurance that I'm invincible that I had at 16.

I shouldn’t be scared. No tickets or accidents for years, though I once hit a house, but that was when I was a teenager. I’ve driven for years through Chicago’s ice, snow, thunderstorms, and pitted roads. Anybody who has dodged traffic on Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway and survived should get an award, and an automatic license. Though that was years ago, too.

Now I just kind of loop around my neighborhood. Sometimes I even forget where I’m headed. My husband, Sam, does hang on to the hook above the door when I’m driving. He thinks I drive too fast and I think he drives too slow. Once I did mistake the neighbor’s driveway for ours but that was at night. I will take the test during the day.

To get some hints, I've been interviewing friends who have taken the test. At our age, besides grandchildren, mah jongg, or what restaurant we are going to, our conversations revolve around who is sick, who fell down, and who passed the driving test.

While sitting in the car practicing the hints—put your seat belt on before starting the car, look over your shoulder while backing up, and put your parking brake on while parking on a hill—it dawned on me that I didn't  know where the parking brake was located, even though I actually lived on a hill. Then I remembered my friend Fern who, without warning, had to take the written test. Now I had to find the brake, and get a copy of Rules of The Road to study besides.

Could I identify blank signs?

Driving was no longer automatic for me. I checked the signs and tried to memorize them, watched my speed, and felt sorry for myself because I have an old car without the backup and side mirrors to let me know when something is in my way. I worried that I would probably back up into another car or a rock, and the instructor would fall forward and be severely injured, and I would fail the test.

Then while out for a drive I paid extra attention to my fellow drivers.  I even started to judge them.

"She just went through a red light. Can you believe it, he stopped over the white line. They will never pass the driving test!”

Sam thinks I'm crazy. He just took the test without worrying about anything. Men have it made with their confident personalities.

Finally, I decided to take the test. I drove to the Secretary of State’s office by myself, so if I didn't pass I could take it again without anyone knowing.  I had to wait for two hours before an instructor took me. A 90-year-old woman assured me that I would have no trouble, just listen and don't talk if the instructor is a man. She said they passed her every year for showing up by herself. She helped get my anxiety level and my blood pressure down.

I did get a male instructor so I hardly uttered a sound, except to answer a question. 

A big sigh of relief overcame me when the instructor said, ”You passed.” With a big smile, I went to the counter to retrieve my new license. My joy was suddenly taken from me when the clerk said, “See you in four years for your next test.”

I glared at her, "What next test?” I asked.

She answered, ”At 80 and afterward, you have to take the test every year.”

Joy turned to anger.

Then, it occurred to me, if I lived that long I could take up residence in Florida. Everyone in my friend’s Miami nursing home has had his or her driving license renewed automatically, even the ones who couldn't get out of bed. 

Good drivers or no, I’ll definitely be able to find a mah jongg game there!

Submitted: January 03, 2020

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