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.
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.
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?)
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.)