I walked into the well lit and old-people smelling basement of the church for the second time in my life, hopefully the last as well. From that moment on I forced myself to smile for the next hour, trying to win over the old familiar face that had dashed my dreams only a couple months ago. This time I knew the ropes and seated myself in front of the makeshift desk while keeping that constant smile. She asked me to fill out some information and I did. I moved to prepare to take an eye test; however, she told me that because I had taken it last time, I did not need to do it. I was handed two sheets of paper and told to wait in the car.
As I sat waiting in the car, I probed my brain, searching for pieces of information to remember throughout the test: how to use the parking brake, turn on the lights, left and right signals. I knew that I was prepared, but I was still worried that I would forget. She emerged through the basement door. I smiled at her my most charming smile. I was received with a neutral face. She stood in front of the Buick Park Avenue Ultra and barked orders at me.
“Left signal. Right signal. Lights.”
She walked around to the back of the car.
I hesitate. I don’t know why.
“Left signal” she says again.
I do it.
She seats herself in the passenger seat of the car and orders that I put on the parking brake. I do it. Then she asks for the papers I had been handed just a few minutes ago. I hand them to her. She tells me that we are good to go, and I say okay. I grab a hold of the gear selector and move it casually downwards like I had done a million times before and I slowly released the brake so that I would smoothly pull out of the parking space. Except I’m not pulling out. Instead, I begin to go backwards. The opposite way of what I wanted. At first I act like nothing had happened and calmly move the gear selector to drive, but it is too late and she tells me to stop and breathe. My heart is going about as fast as a NASCAR race car right now, and I let out my breath that I had unintentionally been holding for a long period of time. This time I successfully pull out from the parking space and exit the parking lot.
I remember when my brother got his driver’s licence on his first try. He was happier than Uncle Sam on the 4th of July. When I asked him about any tricks that I could use to help me pass, he said that he had just talked to her like any normal person and even thought of presents that she could pick out for her grandchildren. This was going to be my plan. As soon as I got on the road, I began to ask her questions about her day.
“How many tests before me had there been today? Is it usually busy during the summer or the winter?”
Finally we got around to her grandkids and I instantly jumped on it.
“What were their names? Where did they live? How old?”
Then it turned out that one of the grandkids played lacrosse. Now that was something I could really hop on. I told her that I also played lacrosse and began to hammer her with more questions, but with ease and politeness.
“What position? How did he like it?”
I also slowly began to reveal information about myself as well. I said that I went to Hebron Academy and then we discussed about how diverse the school was. Finally she ordered me to do the dreaded command.
“Please parallel park.”
I calmly pulled up beside the car and began the maneuver smoothly. I put it into park. She said I could go now and I tried to. However I had parked so closely to the curb that I could not turn the wheels. I tried and tried again, but I just couldn’t move and was very frustrated. She gave me directions and only then was I able to get out. After that I knew there was only one outcome to this test. It was pretty silent throughout the rest of the drive. At a big intersection, I took a left turn and entered the wrong lane. Eventually we arrived back at the Church. By the time we got there I was feeling pretty down. My mind was shrouded with disappointment, and I could only think about how many things I couldn’t do without my license. I parked and the day felt gloomy, like Lucifer himself had ascended from the depths of hell and cast his doom over the land. Then she said the magic word. Congratulations.
Excitement and about a hundred pounds of burden was lifted from my back. After she explained all the official stuff, we got of the car. The bright rays of the sun struck my face, and a breeze cooled me down from the mind excruciating torment of the test. My smile felt a mile wide.
And the summer was over.
And I need to get a car.