Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Drama at the DMV

For those of you who did not know, Trent turned 16 on May 7th. This has been a much anticipated event because of the fact that you are eligible for a driver's license at this milestone in life. Of course we had gone through the trauma of visiting the DMV six months ago when he obtained the wonderful permit. This allowed him to drive a car with a licensed driver accompanying him. In fact not only did it allow this, it was required that he drive for 50 hours before he would be allowed to apply for an actual drivers license. I don't know about the rest of you but I try anything to avoid spending time in my car driving. And now we needed to log in what seemed like an insurmountable amount of time. Because of my wonderful 2 mile radius in which most things I regularly frequent exist, Trent was not able to get much driving time in by just going where we usually go. Hence most Saturday afternoons would find us out on the open road for at least an hour at a time. And if just the actual driving was not enough, we had to write a 500 volume narrative about our travels. The DMV required that each time we drive, we fill in a log sheet about the trip. We needed to include the starting and stopping time, was it day or night, was the weather dry or wet, did we drive on residential, arterial, or freeway type roads, was the traffic heavy, moderate or light. Sheesh this log had more details than my journal for the past six months. I tried to make myself useful during our time in the car. For instance sometimes I would read, another time I took my cleaning supplies including a toothbrush and did some deep cleaning. The only problem was that I could not really clean the driver's side as Trent was in the way. I was overjoyed when we finished up the 50 hours during spring break in April. Then we had only to wait for our appointment for the driving test.



Finally the scheduled day arrived, May 18th. Our appointment was at 8:00 am and we were early. There was a large group of people standing outside the door waiting for it to open. I was very happy when they opened the door and said that anyone with an appointment could come right in. We went in and showed our lovely 3 page log of driving time along with proof of drivers ed class, registration and insurance. We sat down and waited for a few moments and then they called his name and off he went. I tried to sit but was too anxious and so I strolled over to the very small window to see how it was going. I could see Trent in the car with the examiner behind the car checking to see that all the lights were working. Imagine my dismay when the guy walked back into the DMV. I ran to meet him and was told that one of the rear tail lights was out. He then told me that if we could get it fixed and be back in 20 mins, Trent could still take the test. I sprinted to the car and off we went in search of a car parts store. We decided to go west and sure enough a few blocks away we found an Auto Zone. We pulled into the parking lot and I ran inside to find the required light bulb. The store attendant seemed to take forever as he looked up the part number. I quickly explained that we had a limited amount of time to get this fixed. Once the part was purchased we had to borrow a tool to remove the cover plate to the tail light. Of course at first we had the wrong size and I had to go back in the store to get a different one. Then we struggled to remove the bolts or whatever you would call the things keeping the cover plate in place. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the bulb was replaced and we were on our way back down the street to the DMV. We went in and miraculously we had made it in time.

So off Trent went again, this time with a different examiner. Now I paced up and down as my adrenaline levels were off the chart making it impossible for me to wait calmly. When they returned we were ushered into a small room. The examiner informed us that Trent had some very bad habits in his driving. The first problem was that he would put his hands in his lap at stop lights. I think the fact that my car is a manual makes it more likely that you would take your hands off the wheel. The next thing she talked about was the fact that when he turned, he did not always stay in the same lane. I feel badly about this, because that is the way I drive. The final nail in the coffin, was the fact that at a school crossing guard, he did not come to a complete stop, because the guard was about to step back onto the curb. This was an automatic fail situation. We were both pretty upset because Trent really is a good driver and I was sure he would pass. The examiner told us we could call to get an appointment but it would most likely be for July. I didn't doubt this, as I had called six weeks earlier to make this appointment. The next option was to do something called standby. This is where you show up without an appointment and wait for an undetermined time hoping that someone else with an appointment will not show up. We were told to wait at least a week before coming back and to practice the things that he did wrong.

So a week later found once again at the DMV. The doors opened at 8:00 and so I figured that if we got there at 7:00 we would be close to the front of the line. We were shocked to find out that when we got there we were number 9 in line. The person who was number 1 had been there since 3:30 in the morning. The number 2 person had gotten there at 5:00. She had been there the day before and they had only gotten to number 4. She had number 5 and she had literally sat there from 8 til 4 and never got a chance to take her test. I began to wonder about what we were in for. I did come prepared to wait with a good book to read. While were outside waiting for the doors to open, it was pretty hot. Finally at 7:40 they came out and passed out the numbers. And then they finally let us in at 8:00. We sat down and began to wait. As I sat there I pondered the nature of the DMV. Is it not a modern day torture chamber? I bet Hitler would be disappointed to know of the ways he missed out on torturing people because of the lack of cars people owned back then. And truly a job at the DMV seems to require a certain meanness and joy in being cruel to others not to mention doing your job at the speed of grass growing. I believe that the DMV has the ability to turn one to the dark side of disbelief. It is a drainer of hope and life source. But that is just the musings of a deranged mother. Now back to our tale: Things looked hopeful when the first two standby people were called up by 8:20. Then numbers 3 & 4 were called up at 9:00. Something happened to number 8 and so we moved up a spot. Then people with appointments started showing up. This put the standby line to a stop. It began to look like we could be there for the entire day. Those of us waiting together became friends, bonded together by the horrific experience of being so much at some else's mercy. We discussed how someone should start a business where people could pay someone else to wait for them at the DMV. One guy said he would gladly have paid someone $100 to have waited for him. I don't think anyone could pay me enough to be there when I didn't have to for my own needs. Finally at 11:20 after more than 4 hours of waiting, Trent's name was called.

This time he had yet another examiner. Off they went. I felt nauseous. I wanted to watch and yet I didn't want to see what would happened. Somehow the 20 minutes of the test went by, and we went again into the little room. This time the examiner wanted to know who had taught Trent to drive. Yikes, I resembled that remark! He proceeded to say that you can not drive with one hand on the stick shift and that you can not coast into a stop sign or light and leave the car in neutral. He also lost points for going to fast in a school zone. And so bottom line, he had failed again. I could not believe it. I asked the guy why the first examiner had not mentioned anything about being in neutral or the fact that you needed to keep both hands on the wheel as much as possible. He couldn't say. He finally went and got the first test and told Trent that he had fixed all the original problems, but that there had been different ones the second time. I asked the guy if he thought that it was possible to pass the test with a manual car. He said it might be better if we could use an automatic, but I didn't think Trent would do well in our van since he hardly ever drives it. The examiner stated that he didn't think it was a good idea to do the standby thing, because all that waiting is hard on ones nerves. I could whole heartedly agree with that statement. He told us we needed to get an appointment. We said we didn't want to wait all the way until July. He then took pity on us and looked in the appointment book and found a cancellation that was for the next Tuesday, just 4 days away. We went home glad to have an appointment for the next time we came back.

Once again we practiced. I personally had lost all hope of ever getting a license for Trent. I figured that sitting at the DMV would just become a regular part of my weekly routine. Finally Tuesday came. The appointment was for 1:00 so Trent went to school. I picked him up at 12:45 and off we went for the third try. We parked and went in. I felt the familiar feeling of nausea. We showed our paper work and after just 5 minutes of waiting they called Trent's name. Off he went with yet, the fourth examiner. There are only 6 people who do the driving test so we had met almost all of them. Luckily for me, a friend called me just as he was leaving. I think this kept me from having to go and throw up my lunch. Honestly I don't know when the last time was that I had felt such anxiety. And before I knew it, he was back and we went to the small room again. Trent sat down, and the guy said not to look so worried because he had passed. I don't think either of us believed him at first. I asked if there was anything he needed to work on, and the guy said "No, he got 100%". I was shocked. How did he go from failing twice to getting 100%. We were both so happy. Next we were off to get the picture taken and few minutes later Trent was the proud owner of a bad picture on his driver's license. It was a very happy day! Later that night he had his spring Orchestra concert and instead of me having to drive him to the school, he just took himself early and then we came later when the concert started. YEAH! I am very excited for him to be able to be in charge of taking himself where he needs to be. He will start a job in a week when school is out. Good job, Trent for hanging in there and not giving up!
We bought a third car from our next door neighbor for $100. Since then we have spent $1500 getting it to run. It is running but did not pass the smog. Once we get that cleared up it will be time to get it registered. I wonder how long I will sit at the DMV for that?

1 comment:

Kris said...

Way to go Trent!! Pat, my question is if Mare has been off of school for the last 2 weeks, why didn't he get a turn to go to the DMV?