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檀香山考车记 My Driving Test in Honolulu

estella  12-05-23 10:47

Language:中文 pin yin English

Obtaining a driving license in the USA is easy. You have to pass a written test to get a certificate with which you can learn to drive under the supervision of someone with a license, but no passengers are allowed in the car you drive. The written test is also easy, which selects 30 test questions randomly from a book. It is a piece of cake to the Chinese who are always good at exams.
Afterward you will have to take a road test. If you pass the test you’ll get a driving license. An easy pass should never be taken for granted, since one careless move could possibly ruin all your efforts. If you forget to fasten your seat belt or stop at a signpost which indicates a temporary pause, the examiner will get out of your car and announce your failure. If you’re lucky enough to carry the test through to the end, the examiner will keep finding fault with you. Each mistake you make will be penalized for 5 to 10 points. You’ll fail the test if you lose more than 15 points of your total score.
Standards of examiners may vary. I met a rather stern lady the first time I took the test, who remained cold and indifferent and didn’t move a muscle of her face, even though I greeted her with as much courtesy as I could provide. She kept recording my performance from the minute I got into the car. Many points were penalized for taking an excessive left turn, forgetting to look into the mirrors before changing a lane, assuming the right of way when other cars were still waiting, and making a right turn when the green lights were turning yellow, etc. It was no surprise that in the end I failed to pass the road test.
It is quite easy to pass the road test in areas with wide open spaces and a sparse population. On such a pellet of land as Honolulu, the terrain is rough and rugged, and the lanes are narrow and swarmed with cars; therefore, taking a road test becomes all the more difficult. The strict examining procedure has also failed many domestic drivers with five or six years of driving experience. For a beginner like me who had never driven a car before, failure of a road test should not have come as a surprise.
But that stern examiner had crushed my confidence to such a degree that I refused to take another road test for a long time. When I finally made up my mind to have another try, it turned out that the earliest test would be held in mid July when I ought to go back to China. Since it had become impossible to make an appointment in advance, I had to get up early to queue up for a testing number.
I got up at four and half in the morning and headed for the city square with my friend in a hurry. It was a little after five and the sky was still grey when we got there. A line had already been queued up outside the bureau. Fortunately, there were only about a dozen people before me. Right at the head of the line was a bed in which someone nestled in the quilt was sleeping tight. It seemed that the man had waited there for a whole night. It is said that some people make a living by selling the numbers they have queued up for. For each number sold they can earn up to 20 dollars. We waited for more than three tedious hours on stools and beach chairs, watching the line becoming longer and longer. The bureau door finally opened at 7:45, so we filed in and luckily I got the number 9.
Then I still had to wait patiently. Finally, an old man called for “Tan” which set me in confusion for a moment before I realized that he was calling my name. I muttered to myself that my name is “Tang” instead of “Tan”. I followed the old man to the parking lot to fetch a car. After that things went rather dramatically. I started the car, drove it out of the parking lot and took to the road. Everything seemed to be fine. After making several turns the old man began to talk to me. He asked about my profession and homeland, and even my opinions about Hawaii. He was so different from the cold, stern lady I met last time!
He looked really cool sitting next to me in his seat, hands behind his head in a light-hearted way. He kept telling me to turn right and left. I circled around and around and felt everything was going smoothly. I was even rejoicing inside at a forthcoming driving license. Suddenly, the old man asked me to find a place for parallel parking, which frustrated me at once. Parallel parking is also called “sandwich parking”, which means the examinee has to park his car between two cars at roadside. Parallel parking is seldom tested since it is difficult and requires a lot of special training.
A newbie like me was of course rarely trained for such parking skills. Anyway, I had to force myself this time, but still I was hoping the road ahead would be full of cars so that parallel parking might be avoided. To my frustration, the old man quickly designated a parking space, so I drove up there very nervously. When my car finally pulled up, it was too far from the roadside. The old man signaled me to try again, but this time I forgot to pass a signal to the driver before me, and my car stopped too close to his car.
On the way back to the parking lot, the old man explained to me the skills for parallel parking. He told me to come back a week later and expressed his wish to examine me again. When we parted he told me that I was a good girl and he had enjoyed talking with me. But I was not sure whether I wished to meet him again.
After my second failure, I tried a third time and didn’t meet the same old man. A grave-looking old man failed me this time. My third test was taken three days before I left USA. At that time I had already given up hope for a driving license. But my friend, who had been teaching me to drive, encouraged me to hold on, so I tried one last time. I met the grave-looking old man again. As we had met once before, this time he softened up quite a bit and chatted with me.
I told him I would go back to China three days later and this was the last time I took the test. I was not sure whether he would have pity on me when deciding my final score. My car pursued its course quite smoothly and parallel parking was not tested. Then, before I realized it, I miraculously received my driving license. I still couldn’t believe it was true even when I went to take the photo for my license. If I had known I would be able to pass this time, I would have done my makeup to take a better photo. Having failed so many times, I had surrendered myself to the will of god, and never expected to get the driving license in the end.


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Edit on12-05-23 10:48