In a regular rite of passage that strikes fear in the heart of the staunchest of suburban parents everywhere, I took my eldest son to take his driver’s test this morning.
And please understand that, when I say “right of passage,” it has absolutely nothing to do with my progeny and everything to do with the fact that I physically and mentally survived my share of those 50 required hours of on-the-road training.
Remember, I’ve gone face-to-face with the most cantankerous of politicians. I backed down an angry Karen McConnaughay on the county boardroom floor. I took an open doored helicopter ride over the South Dakota Badlands. I’ve even sent a Doberman, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd scurrying, but nothing prepared me for the rigors of teaching one of your children how to drive.
Until he nearly ran his first red light, I had no idea I could hit those high notes, survive an average heart rate of 396, and remember all those prayers from my misspent Catholic youth.
That famous (and exceptionally morbid) child’s prayer really should go, “if I should die before he brakes, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Let’s just say I no longer fear a terrorist attack, watching Fox News, or death itself. Of course, now that he’s taken his test, I suppose we really oughtta do something about that passenger side floorboard hole right beneath the imaginary brake.
So we dutifully headed off to the DMV at 7:45 this morning only to discover we weren’t nearly the only ones with the that thought. But I gotta give those Indian Trail folks in Aurora, Illinois credit for their capacity to keep things moving along.
Before we knew it, we were second in line sitting squarely behind an elderly Asian woman who was also preparing to take her road test. Now, I know what you’re thinking! But sometimes there is a grain of truth behind certain stereotypes and the events of this morning certainly proved it!
It wasn’t very long before a friendly, semi-middle-aged blonde woman named Kathy bounded out of the building to explain that she’d be taking the woman for her test. “But first,” she said, “We have to do a safety check.”
Dutifully moving to the back of the vehicle, Kathy intoned, “Turn on your left turn signal.”
And the woman turned on her right turn signal.
“No! Turn on your left turn signal,” Kathy repeated.
And the woman turned on her right turn signal.
“No! Your left turn signal,” Kathy implored, and the woman finally complied.
You don’t have to be psychic to know what happened next.
The obligatory, “Turn on your right turn signal,” was followed by the woman firing off the left one, though she did get it right on the second try.
Our aspiring driver did manage to honk her horn correctly, but when Kathy couldn’t get in the passenger side door, upon her request to unlock it, the woman popped the trunk instead. Realizing that no one had noticed her faux pas, and fearing some sort of vehicular cataclysm, as Kathy started to enter the car I shouted, “Kathy! She opened the trunk.”
At this point, Kathy exited the vehicle and, stifling her laughter as best she could, declared, “I can’t do this – I’ll be right back.” About four minutes later she returned with what could only be the facility manager who, after speaking with the woman for a bit, bravely decided to make a second safety check attempt.
Sure enough, his left turn signal request also did not go well. Our driver did manage to get the right one right this time, but just when you thought there was hope, when he asked her to roll down her window so he didn’t have to shout, she popped the trunk – again.
Looking somewhat bewildered, the manager shut the trunk, and asked her to apply the brake.
Somehow she’d managed to put the car in drive, which immediately elicited a shriek of, “Put it in park!,” which caused the woman to floor it in an Indy 500 start flourish only to slam on the brakes just one second before she took out a row of parked cars.
Though he had no clue as to the aforementioned stereotype, my son was laughing nearly as hard as I was. The only way this could’ve been any funnier is if it was a bit on the Dave Chapelle show. I really have got to go to the DMV more often!
Needless to say, our intrepid drivers license applicant never made it to the road test. And even though I felt bad for anyone who had to endure that ordeal – tester or testee – I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that she wouldn’t be out on the road anytime soon.
Long story short, with Kathy accompanying him, and the bar now set exceedingly low, my son passed his drivers test with flying colors.
But just as I breathed the kind of sigh of relief that could’ve been heard for blocks, I realized my 15 year-old is already on deck.
Please pray for me.