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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Teaching an 'old dog' a 'new' trick

Waiting rooms everywhere are alike. It can be an emergency ward in a hospital, a visa office, a doctor's office, the closet off to the right in a garage, the ante-room to your lawyer's offices or even the Drive/Test Centre in downtown St. Catharine's. It is all the same. Old acoustic tiles in the ceiling, a number system that has lost any semblance of rationality to it (or any semblance that you can fathom), staff that are hostile, bored, abused or a toxic combo of all three and a whack of people who just want, need, to get out of this purgatory and back to life. And needless to say most of the people waiting are anxious. They are anxious because they fear that the end result of being in the waiting room will be bad news, a hefty bill, a serious disappointment or being told to come back the next day. And that's me on Thursday afternoon at the Drive/Test Centre located in a crummy little mall on Bunting Road in St. Catharine's.

I don`t drive. Well, I haven`t driven for about 30 years. I stopped driving for a whack of reasons, some practical, some psychological. But over the last few years it has become increasingly clear to me that not driving is actually very selfish. Why should others be at my beck and call and why should others not expect to be able to rely on me driving them to an appointment or heading out to do errands? Driving was becoming, had become a matter of simple basic fairness. So I committed to learning once again how to drive.

The first thing was of course passing a test to get a temporary licence in order to practise driving and them meant learning a whole bunch of rules that I might have known once and forgotten or never knew. Where should your car be if you are turning left from a one-way street to a two-way street? What does a very curvy line on a yellow sign indicate? How close can you park to a fire hydrant? And so on, and so on. Luckily there are on-line practice tests that I could train myself with and train I did. I did ok for the most part but every once in awhile I'd get thrown by a question about the penalty for some infraction was. If you didn't stop for a school bus, if you drove without a licence and so on. I would always get these wrong because I always opted for the more extreme answer and that was never right. Clearly, my sense of justice is at odds with that of the province of Ontario.

So I am sitting in this waiting room, waiting to take my test and I am really anxious. I am convinced that all these nervous teenagers sitting around me are going to ace this test and some officious bureaucrat is going to call out my name and announce loudly that I have failed and that I should go home and think about how stupid I am. (Now imagine what it portends that I am so nervous taking a written test...just think about when I actually have to get in the car with a driving examiner...one of us is going to need a Valium or two...and yes...I realize that according to rule 2.7.6 as a beginner drive I am not allowed to operate a motor vehicle while taking Valium.)

As Debi would say, of course I passed. I actually did quite well. Out of 40 questions I only got two wrong and one of the two was a trick question. Now all I have to do is learn once again how to actually drive a car. Updates to come, and no...you will never see a book with the title "The Man Who Learned How To Drive Twice". P.

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