Every time I’m on the road it’s Special Driving Conditions, baby. I AM SPECIAL.

I was thinking today, as I was in traffic on my way home:

How many of these people would pass the New York State Learner’s Permit test, were they to take it today?

Now, in my defense, the drivers today were totally the worst. We had speed-em-up-slow-em-down Harry, who…well, did exactly what his name suggests. He was in front of me and he’d go normal speed, then putter along, then normal speed, then putter along again, and it was MAKING! ME! STABBY!

Then I had the guy who seemed new to town, and would hesitate at every single intersection. Do I want this one? No. How about this one? Nope, not this one. Oooh, this one? No, that one’s someone’s driveway. What about this one? Oh, shit, that’s the greenhouse’s back entrance. TURN OR PULL OVER I HAVE LAUNDRY TO DO!

Then there was the guy who kept coming to panicked stops for no reason. I feel like maybe he had something wrong with his foot. EEERK! Stop. EEEERK! Stop. Why are you DOING that? There’s not even a REASON!

My half-hour drive home became forty minutes and I was super-crabby by the time I got home.

Oh, is THAT what it is? Thanks, helpful graphic!

Oh, is THAT what it is? Thanks, helpful graphic!

So about halfway there, I started thinking. This isn’t the way we were taught to drive back when we were studying for our permits, was it? And we’re like, what, thirty years or something FROM getting those permits, more or less? Shouldn’t we be BETTER at this shit, not worse?

(Side note: I passed my written permit test without a hitch. I think I got one, maybe two questions wrong. I have always tested well. I tend to know, when there are multiple-choice questions, what’s being asked for. Or I can at least narrow it down to the two most likely answers and have a good track record of choosing the right answer. This is also why I would have been very good at that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show. It was multiple-choice questions. I would have won that. Totally won.

However – this is a very long side-note – I did not pass my driver’s test the first time. The first time, I had a very mean old man who was SUCH A STICKLER. I couldn’t parallel park, but just not being able to parallel park doesn’t fail you. What failed me? I was driving – I am not even kidding – three miles an hour below the speed limit in a 25 or 30 mile-per-hour speed-limit zone. And he was so mean. He actually YELLED at me to speed up. Then said, “Not that it matters. It’s too late to pass this thing now.” I was CRUSHED.

The second time I went back, I wore a very short skirt – I was skinny then, it was my year I was skating the edge of an eating disorder – and a low-cut top and flirted my way to a passing grade with the younger instructor and the only thing he failed me on was parallel parking, because, per the instructor who was looking down my totally jailbaity top the whole time, “Eh, it’s a small town, you’ll never need to know how to parallel park, anyway. About a year later, I moved to Binghamton, New York – which is a city. Where you need to CONSTANTLY parallel park. I still can’t parallel park correctly. I’ve done it once correctly in my whole life. ONCE.

I am not proud of this passing-a-test-with-my-tits thing, but I really wanted that license.

END SIDE NOTE, which was just here to give a personal touch to this post. I did not start life as a very good driver, but I’m passable now. I’ve been in two accidents since I started driving, and wasn’t injured in either of them – just bodywork to the car(s). And the last one was 13 years ago. So I think I’m a decent driver, or at least know how to stay out of people’s way.)

ANYWAY. Where were we?

I thought it might be interesting to see, considering that it’s been 22 years since I took it, how I’d do on the NYS Learner’s Permit test if I were to take it now.

Did you know you could take the test, or at least a practice version, online? You totally can. Ain’t technology wonderful? I had to study from a smeary newsprinty booklet, if I remember correctly.

There are nine sections. Because I love tests, I took ’em ALL. With varying results.

We start with traffic control. Traffic control was a LOT of guessing. Why? Because it had questions like “What does a rectangular sign mean?”

Good grief. I don’t pay attention to the SHAPE of SIGNS! Unless they’re octagonal or triangular. I mean, sincerely. However, I somehow got all of those. (The answer to that rectangle question was “speed limit sign.” Hard, right?)

I actually got a 92% on this part so I was feeling pretty confident. I only got a couple of stupid things wrong because I overthought them (and, in my defense, one was worded oddly.) Also, were you aware if there’s a flashing red light, you’re supposed to stop? I have to wonder if I was on the road, I would know that, and I’m just not knowing that because I’m sitting on my couch, or if I really don’t know that and therefore am just seconds away from a multi-car pileup that kills a billion people.

Next! Intersections and turns! This’ll be good, right?

WRONG. I got a 69% on this. (Heh. 69.) I know, that’s ridiculous. I got 4/13 wrong. Two of them were hand-signals. I knew I was just guessing on those. I have no idea what the hand-signals mean. (I think they mean, “Get your turn signals fixed or take a cab, asshat.”) And again, two of them were oddly-worded, and one had me waiting in the center of an intersection to make a turn, which seems VERY unsafe to me.

Like I'm ever going to remember these. I'll just think you're car-dancing or something.

Like I’m ever going to remember these. I’ll just think you’re car-dancing or something.

Maybe I’m really a terrible driver after all.

Next! PASSING! Oh, I pass a lot of people. Because I am a speed demon. (There was not a section about speeding. If there was, I think I would have won the hell out of that section. Or lost, I suppose, depending on how you view it.) I totally got 100% on this section, which means I am excellent at passing. Get outta my way, yo, I AM PASSING YOU AND I AM VERY GOOD AT IT. I am 100% good at it, actually.

Parallel Parking! What do you think. Did I pass this part?

Noperoonie! I got a 56%. I FAIL AT PARALLEL PARKING. I am the WORST. I have no idea what the rules are; I hate parallel parking, and I will drive around for like half an hour to avoid having to do it. (Oddly, I got the parallel parking questions all right; it was the “no standing/no parking/no stopping” questions I got wrong. I don’t know what the difference is. I just don’t park there. Isn’t that the best way to handle something of that fashion? Just don’t park there?)

DEFENSIVE DRIVING! One hundred percent, baby! I apparently am excellent at both passing AND driving defensively. I think these are both important things to be good at. Better than STUPID PARALLEL PARKING.

I was pretty sure I was going to win Alcohol and Other Drugs, But I think I spaced out and missed one of the questions so did NOT get a perfect score. (The questions were hilarious. “Which of these will help you sober up? A., Running around the house, B., Drinking 14 pots of coffee, C., Drinking more alcohol, D., Time.” SO HARD! WHICH SHALL I CHOOSE?)

This is SMRT smart!

This is SMRT smart!

Next we have Special Driving Conditions. Hee! Special. I’m totally special. Will I win this one?

No. But close. 88%. There were a lot of “expressway” questions, and I don’t know what that means. Do we have expressways here? Is that the same as a highway or a freeway or whatever? Or is it like the Autobahn? VERY CONFUSING!

I got 100% on Sharing the Road, so anyone on a bicycle or walking should totally love me.

I also got one wrong on Road Signs, but it’s, again, because I got distracted and forgot to finish one of the questions. I kind of lose at attention-spanning, more than anything.

So I suppose, if this were the real thing, I probably would have passed, overall. (But I think I did better when I was a kid. However, I studied and studied back then; this was taken without any studying.)

As for the driving portion…well, here’s my thought. When you start driving, you’re all alert and paying attention to shit and nervous and you’re on your best behavior. Then you’ve been driving a while and you’re all “HO HUM OLD HAT” and then you stop paying as much attention. You don’t need to know what SHAPE the signs are. You know that’s a speed limit sign, or a railroad crossing sign, or whatever.

So most likely, if I were to take the driving portion of the test today, I’d pass – but I wouldn’t be driving like normal-Amy, I’d be driving like I do when I have a cop behind me. Checking all the signs and the speed limits and such.

However, there’s no hope for the asshats I was driving home behind today. NONE. There is no reason for driving like that. Maybe you people should have to re-take your driving tests once and a while or at least STAY AWAY FROM ME when I am ATTEMPTING TO DRIVE HOME because, as proven, I am very good at both passing and defensive driving so you should probably bow to my greatness and just let me around you because I have laundry to do, yo. And just because I win at sharing the road doesn’t mean I want to share it with YOU.

Go take some driving tests, you guys. I’m curious if you, too, win driving in New York State. (Also, some of the wording is kind of hilarious, I just have to say. And what else are you going to do today, work? PLEASE. Don’t even make me laugh.)

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

51 responses to “Every time I’m on the road it’s Special Driving Conditions, baby. I AM SPECIAL.

  • Heather

    I always win driving in New York State; I know all the proper cuss words that they don’t test you on.

    I parallel parked PERFECTLY on the first try when I took my test…and I’ve never parallel parked again. Heh.

    I was so nervous when I took my driver’s test, but I lucked out and got a really nice testing-guy. Plus, he let my Nonny ride in the back seat, which made me feel more comfortable.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Ah, but the true test is: do you know the JERSEY cusses? Those are MUCH worse. (I drove in Jersey once and I’m pretty sure it contributed to my gray hair.)

      You got to have your Nonny with you on the test?!?!? Man, you guys had such better experiences than I did, I swear. *pouts*

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      • Heather

        I did. I used her car to take the test, and the test started on some random street corner in Auburn where the testing guy met me. I told him I couldn’t just leave her standing on the corner, waiting for me to come back. Haha! But he didn’t even act like it was a strange request. I’ve heard some real horror stories of other testing people there, though, so I’m pretty sure I just got extremely lucky.

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      • Heather

        I’ve never driven in Jersey. Thank goodness.

        Like

  • mfennvt

    Ooh, I should have read the manual before taking that quiz. :/ But I know all about intersections and turns!

    I failed my first driving test, too. Didn’t yield when turning left at a light. Hey, that’s how my dad did it!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I didn’t read the manual either. My thought was, I shouldn’t have to, as I drive every DAY!

      (It was a bad thought.)

      Most people I know failed their first driving test, so I didn’t feel TOO bad.

      Like

  • franhunne4u

    Failed my theory-test online … one mistakepoint more than I was allowed. Good thing then, that I gave away my car and have not driven for two years.

    Like

  • Charleen

    I didn’t really have to take a driving test. Because I got an A in both the classroom and behind the wheel portions of drivers’ ed, I was able to take my “driving test” with my drivers’ ed teacher instead of at the DMV. So, it didn’t feel any different than anything else we’d done all semester, my fellow-drivers were in the car with me, and it was fine.

    Um, speed limit signs aren’t the only rectangular signs… I hope this was multiple choice that didn’t include any other valid answers.

    I am absolutely terrible at parallel parking. Luckily I’ve never had to do it for real… although I suppose it’s one of those things that I really should know how to do just in case. Like driving stick. Which I also don’t know how to do. (My husband and I have a friend who’s supposed to teach us… or at least teach him so he can teach me… but somehow this has never happened yet.)

    Here’s the thing about bad drivers though… aside from the skill part and the knowledge part (which is what we’re tested on), being a good driver basically comes down to two things: courtesy and common sense. Unfortunately, both of those are in short supply these days, so quite often you come across drivers who have neither, and then sometimes you get too much of one and not enough of the other (like the people who wait at a 4-way stop all day because they’re letting everyone else go regardless of who has the right of way). If pressed I’d say the common sense is the more important of the two, but a little courtesy never hurt anyone either.

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    • lucysfootball

      That’s a thing? How come that’s not a thing here! I didn’t have that option here! I did well enough in Driver’s Ed but I STILL had to take the test!

      Yes, that was the only rectangular sign option. I think the rest were yield signs, stop signs, and something round.

      I can (sort of) drive stick. Someone taught me many years ago, and I did it for two weeks while I was housesitting for them and my car was in the shop. I only ground the gears a little (and actually really enjoyed doing it.) Haven’t had an opportunity to do it since, though.

      Totally agreed – most people are out for themselves, or to cut about .000001 second off their drive-time. If that means cutting others off and causing an accident, SO BE IT. There’s terrible trash television that needs watching!!!

      Like

  • Ashley Austrew

    I am a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad parallel parker. I just hate it. I’ll switch places with my husband and make him do it. Because I’m an independent woman.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I don’t have a husband to switch places with! I just mutter angrily under my breath and drive around until I find a spot I can drive into, even if it means I have to walk a zillion miles. Because I’m so, so bad at parallel parking. (The one time I did it, I had to correct so many times I thought I’d run out of gas before I finished. True story.)

      Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Humans shouldn’t be allowed to drive. When I rule the world I’ll make it illegal. Self-driving cars are much safer and will usually get you where you’re going faster than if you’re driving yourself.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Man, you always tease us about when you rule the world, how great it’s going to be. WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN, ANDREAS? I mean, I’m waiting, but I’m totally getting impatient.

      Like

      • Andreas Heinakroon

        Sorry about the delay. But at least I’ve got a flagpole now. I can start manufacturing my own banner and have it fly proudly over Schoss Heinakroon. (It’s not really a castle. Honest. Doesn’t have a moat or anything.)

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        • lucysfootball

          You have a flagpole? Is this a euphemism, Andreas?

          I totally imagine you in a castle now. With a moat. And alligators in the moat. Also an octopus. When I come to visit you, I hope you put the bridge over the moat so I can enter without being eaten by your protective creatures!

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          • Andreas Heinakroon

            No euphemism. A real proper flagpole for flags. I just have to design and have made my own flag now.

            And no, no castle. I’m not Professor Elemental after all:

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            • lucysfootball

              OMG, I am so excited about this personal Heinakroon flag now. There is no one I know in all the world who deserves a personal flag more than you. There are so many options! It could be sciency or it could be computery or it could be Heinakroony or or or…SO EXCITING!

              I don’t care what your house REALLY looks like. In my mind, it’ll always be the castle of Andreas. (Which, in less than a year, I will be STAYING in! Eeee!)

              Like

    • Charleen

      My thought on self-driving cars is that it would have to be an all or nothing proposition… because no computer, no matter how well programmed, could ever be smart enough to respond to the stupid, unpredictable things we humans do while driving. Of course, I’m not a computer expert (or a Science Fellow) so what do I know? Thoughts?

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      • Andreas Heinakroon

        Yes, it would have to be completely hands-off. No monkeys allowed to touch the wheel.

        An incentive for people to adopt this amazing life-saving technology/horrific reduction of personal freedom would be to offer seriously discounted vehicle insurance policies to owners of autonomous cars. And perhaps five- or tenfold the cost of getting a manual driving license.

        Like

  • Samantha

    I passed the written test with flying colors too, but failed my driving test twice. Surprisingly, I am a pretty good driver. However, I also mostly drive in a relatively low-stress environment. I mean there’s stupid people, and slow people, but most everything is windy roads and two-lane highways, so there’s that. Although my family FREAKS out about curvy roads and I’m like, “whatevs,” gas it. :P

    When you mean waiting in the middle of an intersection to turn, do you mean when you have to yield to oncoming traffic? Because that makes sense. I hate it when people wait behind the line while I go straight because it makes me nervous, like I don’t know what they’re going to do. But sometimes the straight oncoming traffic looks at me like a loon when I do it. So I don’t know.

    Plus I’ve heard California has stricter driving rules, although I didn’t have to parallel park for my test. I did have to back up though. (I can kind of parallel park pretty well, but I blame that more on my car than my skill. Beetles are SUPER easy to maneuver in general, at least to me. I had the hardest time in my Civic, but my Beetle is like oh you can’t fit there? I CAN.

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    • lucysfootball

      See, I have NO IDEA what it meant about the intersection. There were no diagrams. You just had to guess. I’m pretty sure that’s why I got as many wrong as I did. I’m much more of a visual person. I need to see what we’re talking about before I make a decision, people!

      I’m so glad I don’t have to take that test now. Whew, the stress would KILL me.

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      • Samantha

        Me too. I cried both times I failed the driving part. And then the third time, I was driving my own car that I had just bought, and was more comfortable, so she told me I passed before I got back to the DMV. Then I hit the curb on the way in. -_- I was so glad she still gave me my license.

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  • becomingcliche

    UGH! Driving tests! Girl-child is studying for her written test right now.

    I had to learn how to parallel park a bus when I got my CDL. And we were only allowed two corrections maximum in order to pass. I asked my boss why we had to demonstrate this skill even though it would be technically illegal for us to ever use it in real life. She didn’t know, either. But I can do it. It was a short bus, but still.

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  • Gigi

    UGH! Not only did you remind me of the dumb-asses that I witness on a daily basis in my commute – you reminded me of WHY I had to take my driving test THREE times – of course, I’m still bitter almost 30 years later! Not the written part, of course. That I nailed the first time around. Lost the first round due to parallel parking – which honestly? In Houston? Parallel parking is nonexistent. The second time the guy who was grading me was being “observed” by his supervisor for his evaluation – how is that fair? The third time, luckily, I passed it.

    But for all that, I AM a good driver. It’s the other morons on the road that are the problem.

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    • lucysfootball

      There are so many morons. SO MANY. Where do they all come from? And where do they all go at night?

      Maybe they all live together in like a moron-commune. They should make a reality show about that, they’d make millions.

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  • elaine4queen

    We have the same hand signals! Except opposite. If you see what I mean.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I just learned today from my most intrepid Science Fellow that the driving-on-the-left thing is only in the UK. I thought it was all of Europe. I might be the least-well-informed person alive. (This is why it’s very good that I have a very patient and kind Science Fellow.)

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      • elaine4queen

        It’s ridiculous, and the first thing I’d change if I were in charge. That, and I’d have us join the euro, it’s mad clinging onto our currency – it’s only an effing “currency” it’s not like Europe is about to go down the toilet!

        Anyhoo, they also do it in Australia and Japan. More fool them, I say. But a much worse idea here, being so close to the European mainland.

        Like

  • Corvidae in the Fields

    I’ve had to take the written part three times in different points in my life because I relocated out of state once. There were both tests at 16, the written portion again at 27, and another at 30. So, I’ve been down the whole “overconfident on the driver’s test” road before.

    Suffice it to say, North Carolina’s DMV can’t word questions very well. There were also questions about driving on hills. NW Ohio is flat! I don’t consider dropping gears for much of anything.

    The only time I’ve been in an accident that was my fault was in 2000, and it wasn’t even an injury accident. I was handed a $125 “failure to yield” citation, because I couldn’t see a speeding motorist behind large maple trees. There wasn’t time to react and the rest is history. I asked them to cut the trees down, but they were all “blah, blah, that’s not our problem” and then a few years later they were jacked. Somebody important must have been in a similar situation.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Huh, I relocated out of state, but I (luckily) never had to re-take the test. Probably wouldn’t have done that well, if I had. (I did, however, get in an accident within a week of moving to my new state. I was not at all used to five lanes of traffic! That’s a story for the blog someday, though. It’s a good one.)

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  • grrgoyl

    That old man sounds VERY MEAN INDEED. Obviously more than a little frustrated with his career choices, not that he should take it out on you.

    My father was a driver’s ed teacher, which amazed me because he had ZERO patience while teaching us. Constant screaming. I really don’t know if he treated his actual students that way. Although fear is a powerful motivator.

    I grew up in a very rural part of Connecticut (which I’m sure really narrows it down….) and it was well known that one DMV made you parallel park but the other one slightly farther away did not. Guess which one I tested at?

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      My dad was that way, too. I finally told him I refused to learn from him and got the basics from my mom, then the rest from driver’s ed. He was not pleased with my decision. (It’s very terrifying to be screamed at while you’re learning to drive! Accidents could happen!)

      Like

  • Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd

    I actually had to take the test (just the written) again when I moved back to NC from GA, and I almost didn’t pass. I over think multiple choice. It’s electronic so it tells you how many you have left to get wrong before you fail. It was horrible. And I’m a good driver, too.

    I also go big or go home – the only ticket I have ever gotten was when I totaled my car. All other accidents have involved getting in and out of the garage, which means, yes, I also do not ever, ever parallel park.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      That would make me SO STRESSED. Knowing I only had a couple more before I failed? Eek!

      I’ve gotten…I think three or four tickets? A couple for accidents, one for driving without insurance (but I’d just forgotten it at home, it went away when I brought insurance to the police station) and one for not having registration, which was totally my fault. I couldn’t afford to register the car. Couldn’t afford the ticket, either, really, so THANK YOU, Universe, for THAT ironic twist of fate!

      Like

  • b.h.quinn

    I can confidently say that I would get a perfect score on Hawaii’s (Honolulu county) driving test because… I just took it! Again! I keep forgetting that I really should taking my driving test until my mum or my boyfriend asks me if my permit’s still valid, so I’ve taken the written test four times and I practically have it memorized.

    I did take the practical test last month, but I failed by two points because it was the very first time I had *ever* parallel parked and I overcorrected. I would have been fine if I had *stopped* but I did not, and I failed my first ever test. I think I’m scheduled to take it again in two weeks? I am not sure and should probably check on that. But yes, I can pass the Hawaii written test (even though it asks three questions about snow, and really, where in Honolulu county will we ever encounter snow? Hawaii county, yes, but not here.)

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      There’s snow in Hawaii? Where, in the mountains? I had no idea! Look at the things I learn in a day!

      Parallel parking is the WORST. I STILL can’t do it right. URGH.

      Like

      • b.h.quinn

        There is snow… on the volcanoes! Isn’t that weird? But all of our mountains are volcanoes (dormant or active), so I guess it’s not that weird. But, yes, they have snow and snowstorms on the Big Island, on Mauna Kea and Kilauea (possibly Mauna Loa, but I am not sure). I have friends who take their boogie boards to do a Hawaiian-style tobogganing down the volcano.

        However, I do not live on the Big Island and have seen snow all of… five times. I do not mind it and do pretty well in cold weather, but I was only there for a week. I’m supposed to spend Christmas with the bf’s family in Boston (and meet some of my relatives), but I am afraid of the coldness. And the slipperiness.

        I am better at parking now, but I still am not sure if I will pass the test in a couple weeks. Wish me luck.

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          All the luck! (Ugh, parallel parking, seriously. It is the WORST.)

          Don’t worry about the cold and slipperiness – coats/hats/gloves/scarves will cover the cold, and get some good boots for the slipperiness (but in Boston, I’m betting most of the sidewalks will be well-salted so people don’t fall and sue the city for their busted hips, or something.)

          Like

          • b.h.quinn

            I think I may okay with the cold since I have been okay with cold in the short bursts I have (and I love cold-weather clothes; I have a weird amount of sweaters, tights, and boots for someone who lives in Hawaii). However, in Hawaii it doesn’t often go below 70, and when it does it’s considered cold.

            I am worried for the slipperiness because I am not coordinated. I am… super uncoordinated. When we went to Seattle, the bf spent most of the trip with his hand around my arm because I kept slipping in the snow and slush. It would be embarrassing, but I do that all the time.

            Like

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