Waiting at the DMV to retake my driving test, I craned my neck to see who was taking the sixteen-year-olds ahead of me in line. When I saw him, a chill ran up my spine and I almost left. But then I thought there might be a policy in place so you can’t get the same guy twice. It had to be a conflict of interest. There must be someone else that day and I’d get him.
That worked until my number was called and he was the one holding the clipboard.
I started flashing back to last time.
It was a new car. Well, new to me. We’d just bought it the week before so I wouldn’t have to use a standard for the test. I could drive the standard, but I didn’t like it. Plus, I would need the car for work over the summer. Might as well get one I was really comfortable driving.
How was I supposed to know the brake light was out? I’d only been in the car when it would have been on and no one from any of the cars behind me had noticed or signaled me in some way to tell me it was out.
Maybe I would have been fine if he didn’t say he would let it slide, even though it was supposed to be an automatic fail right then and there. As if I wasn’t nervous enough.
Then there was the whole issue of the seatbelt in the back not working. I can still see my dad as he looked from the rearview mirror. He coat spread across his lap to cover where the belt and buckle were supposed to join so no one could see that he sat on the belt directly.
Once we got out on the road, I did well. Even when I stopped at a yellow light and the monstrous tractor-trailer behind me honked in frustration, telling me he thought I should have tried to beat the light. He smiled at me in his blue uniform and made a notation that I couldn’t read but I’m sure it had been positive.
There was just one more light to get through to turn into the parking lot. It went red and I panicked a little. I was pretty sure that you could go right on red so long as the traffic permitted it. I debated internally whether I should just wait it out to be on the safe side, but that enormous truck was still on my tail and the driver was already peeved at me. I slowed to a crawl as I debated, but one more look in the mirror at the trucker and I went for it.
I came as close to stopping as you can without actually stopping. Automatic fail.
And now here he was again telling me, “You need to bring your car around to the designated area. I’ll join you there momentarily so we can get started.”