Getting Your Driver’s License – A First Hand Experience

I have waited 16 years and 180 days for a breath of freedom, but now that it’s come I’m shaking with nerves. Driving. I sat through three weeks of Drivers Ed with Mr. Wilson, I lived through my mother screaming every time we could see a car four miles in front of me, but as the day of driving with some stranger approached, my nerves increased. I really didn’t want to fail.

The BMV is a boring building.  Generally, there are two or three women working the front counter and one woman who will sit in an office out of view until it gets extremely busy.  It is nerve-wracking, but this editor went in calm.  Don’t wing it; this editor did.  Twice. 

I hardly slept the night before my test, and when I drove to the BMV to take the driving test I was literally shaking. My dad told me repeatedly to stop worrying, but it didn’t help at all.

I entered the building promptly at 8:30 and took a seat waiting for the instructor. She checked my permit and she checked my turn signals before we began our journey. She told my dad we’d be gone for about twenty minutes. “Twenty minutes of nerve wracking torture,” I thought.

The actual test doesn’t seem like 20 minutes.  It is torture; the first step, after the light check, is to pull out of the BMV parking lot and hang a left onto Jackson Street and head west towards the Sunoco station.

Everything went pretty good until we got to the stop light by McDonalds. The light decided to turn red and I didn’t slow down quick enough for her liking. I wanted to cry when I saw her writing on her clipboard. I kept going. I went over the railroad tracks, around the square, and turned on Walnut Street, where the post office is. I was really nervous I’d mess something up on this one-way street.  She was still writing on her clipboard and I didn’t know if she was writing good or bad things.

Tip 1 – Watch your traffic lights carefully.  Make sure to be prepared to brake at a moment’s notice in front of every light.

Next came one of the biggest fears of mine: parallel parking. When she said “we’re going to parallel park now,” I swear lightening hit and someone let out an evil laugh. I parked, I knew it definitely wasn’t perfect, but the instructor said “good” and wrote on that ridiculous clipboard again. I turned on my turn signal and got back on the road. She had me turn onto this really narrow street and I’m amazed my 2008 Dodge Caliber kept all four tires on the pavement and not in the grass. We turned on the brick street and I prepared to go to the inside lane of the square; another part that I wasn’t very thrilled for.

Tip 2 – Go practice parallel parking.  A great place is to practice at the Salem Speedway parking lot using two things such as old folding chairs or sawhorses.  It is extremely helpful to practice.

We made it back the BMV making small talk about the weather and the storms that had hit. I pulled into a parking spot, and she said “Well, you passed.” I couldn’t hold in my “Yay!” and sigh of relief. She told me I need to work on some simple stuff and we went in to get my license!

I immediately updated my Facebook status, and went back to school. Everyone had to tell me the same thing. “Let me know when you’re driving so I can get off the road.” Way to have confidence, guys!

Getting my license definitely lifted a ton of stress and worry off my shoulders and I’m glad I have a bit of freedom, even if I can’t drive after 11 on a school night.

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