Sugar coating

Last week while waiting to fail my driver’s test everyone kept looking at the sky. Would the weather hold? Will that misty snowy stuff turn real?

My turn kept getting pushed back so that the kids taking motorcycle tests could go first. Didn’t want the kiddies getting wet or cold now would we? In my opinion at that very moment it seemed to me that a little snow would make excellent testing conditions to really check their skills.

But no one listened to me and I had to sit there and wait. I had company: a young french girl – another love-immigrant – who at the age of 24 was getting her first license. She was so nervous she couldn’t keep still. She just kept saying over and over, “Oh god I hope I don’t fail! I am sooooo N E R V O U S!” As she did this I felt my cool confidence slipping away. What were those rules again?

I won’t bore anyone with more details of the disaster-waiting-to-happen. Nutshell: I didn’t yield in a manner my tester wished to see. Rather than the exaggerated stopping and craning my neck to look down obviously clear roads before continuing on, I yielded in a manner most drivers do yield, which is slightly. Which is why I took the test again yesterday morning.

This time I passed.

This time I was also prepped better for it. I got up at the inhuman hour of 5am, got on a 6am train to the town of Starnberg and, waiting in the newly fallen snow, met my driving teacher at the train station at 7am. We drove for an hour so I’d be warmed up for the test and then I forced him to give me the first test of the morning so I could get it all over with.

I also told him not to tell my tester that I could speak much German. Rather than have to concentrate on his Bavarian accent and translate to English in my head, I decided to make this tester work for his money. He spoke no English but as I was legally entitled to a test in English I gave no mercy and pretended ignorance.

This meant that instead of being able to tease or egg me on with comments like “faster, don’t drive like my grandma” he was reduced to monosyllabic utterances like “RIGHT!!” and “LEFT!! NOW!!!”, which he mostly did in German but yelled really loudly in order to be sure that the meaning would penetrate my supposedly non-German-speaking brain.

This also meant that the man was not only unable to attempt to unnerve me with snide commentary, there was no chance of complex directions that would trip up many a new driver. This I found was much better than my last tester’s (german) directions of “turn just a bit up here past the light brown clapboard fence”.

Once he felt I was driving too slow and wanted to yell something… but what? “Now!! Drive!! Show!!!” This was all he came up with and I just smiled politely and shrugged with a sweet look of confusion on my face.

I could see the lines of frustration getting deeper on his forehead. Then he relaxed and gave up, sat back and enjoyed the ride, shooting the breeze with my driving instructor who was perfectly aware of my antics and unable now to say anything.

Snow was deep on the ground in some of the more remote residential areas we drove through and in more than a few places the tires spun a bit before digging in and moving us on. I just serenely continued on, aping all the required shows of concern for cross traffic and elderly ladies who wanted to cross the street.

That last test took something out of me and I was hell-bent on taking it out on someone return, anyone other than me.

After he gave up my tester started asking my instructor for greater details about who I was, where I was from, the whole backstory. I listened interested as my very uncomfortable instructor tried to answer the questions without embarassing himself to either party. At this point to give away my cover would have hurt him more than me, forcing him to carry on the little lie I started.

This conversation was punctuated every so often with the tester hollering (in german) “LEFT!!!! LEFT HERE!!!!” and “RRRRRRIIGHTTTTT!! NOOOOOWW!!”

This time I not only passed, I passed with flying colors and got a little revenge for the frustration of the past week. My instructor was wilting with relief when I finally finished and got out of the car ending the language charade. I managed to remember to stutter my German and walk off without blowing my cover.

One more thing to check off my list, one step closer to reclaiming a ‘normal adult’ life.



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