Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

I Can Finally Drive!

Science of Speed - a Flickrâ„¢ photo *Note: Photos used in this post are copyrighted by their respective owners. Photos are found at Flickrâ„¢.

A month later I’ve attended my first driving lesson, I find myself queuing up for a number as a candidate at the driving range today. I was initially shocked when my “gung-ho” (as described by Letti) driving instructor told me that I’ll be sitting the test today, a week ago. At that point of time, I have not even mastered how to move a car parked on a slope as well as have the guts to navigate through heavy traffic. And I thought that I’m a piece of dead meat.

After listening to my list of insecurities, she gave me 8 hours of training time this week (wow that’s definitely an overdose, I think!) and she told me that I’ll be ready to roll by Friday. And she really mean it! I woke up at 5.45am (the first time I’m rising so early from bed since I graduated from college last year) to prepare myself for the big day. She came at 6.45am, drove me to the driving range, got me registered and shoved me into the queue before I could say, Can we wait till next week?

The counter lady didn’t even bother to look up at me when I nudged my application form closer towards her. She grabbed the form, made notes on the huge paper printed with words of the smallest font size possible (there’s a shorter name to it: fine prints) and gave me a number. 67. And it’s actually a vulgarity in a dialect called Cantonese. I shall not tell you what it means.

Twitter feed: At the driving range now, waiting for my turn. I’m so nervous and jittery. I hope I can pass :) oh gawd.

Anyway, after getting my number, everything was a blur. Before I could compose myself, I heard my number being called, the scrawny guy who calls out number grabbed my arm and said, Eleven! Eleven! I told him, I’m sixty seven. He shook his head and pointed to a car labeled Eleven.

It’s only when I entered the car that the gravity of the situation started to be clear to me – I’m having a freaking on-road test! The female examiner in the car wasn’t very happy today morning, her face was just gloomy and intimidating. I repeated the list of things I had to do before I get started: adjust my seat, check the mirrors, wipers and signal lamps, check whether I’m currently in neutral gear and fasten my seatbelt. In Asia where drivers are seated on the right, I was reluctant to bend over across the female examiner to adjust the left mirror – and I was deducted a mark. Dammit. Three more marks to go before she declares that I’ve screwed up the test.

Hemat Expressway Sunset - a Flickrâ„¢ photo by BΛΒΛΚ⁴³On the road, I proceeded carefully, remembering to glance at the mirrors after every second (although not necessary), frantically fumbling for the signal lamps and handling the clutch with my trembling legs. We arrived at a traffic circle – and the exam route requires me to make a 3 o’clock turn. That means cutting through the heavy morning traffic.

The car ahead of me was driven by another candidate. She was obviously shell-shocked by the traffic and couldn’t bring her feet to leave the brake. My examiner lost her patience and started blaring the horns, on my behalf. In the end, the candidate in the car ahead was forced to switch places with her examiner because traffic was piling up behind us at the traffic circle.

I didn’t want to tailgate the car ahead because I was equally afraid of the morning traffic. Then a voice piped up from my examiner (finally!) – what are you doing? Couldn’t you move?! Okay, so I stepped on the accelerator very gently to nudge the car ahead. Look out for the van! Go faster! Signal lights, hellooo?! Look at the mirrors! My head started to swirl amidst her shouts. If it weren’t for the sake of that beautiful ‘pass’ in my report, I would have slapped her in the face.

We arrived at a U-turn. I went slow, hit the brakes and my eyes fixated on a tractor ahead. How the hell am I going to move if I couldn’t overtake it? It’s so slow. Why are you looking at the tractor? Mirrors, mirrors, mirriors! How many times do I need to remind you to look at them?! And overtake that tractor, I don’t care. Okay I get it. With my signal lamps flickering, I made an illegal maneuver to overtake the tractor. One mark down again for not looking at mirrors (and strangely enough, no marks deducted for that illegal overtaking part). Two more marks to hell.

Finally without nothing much happening along the way back, we’ve made it safely back to the driving range. I was so nervous that I forgot to engage the gear to neutral before removing my seatbelt. Another mark gone, but at least we’re done. I took every restraint to snicker at her when she dropped the pen while she was grading my performance. I left the car and squeezed out a fake smile: Thank you, ma’am.

Twitter feed: Wheee I’ve passed the on-road test but have to bear with the fierce female examinor. Lol got scolded for not looking at mirrors frequently.

I waited for a period that felt like eternity until I couldn’t take the heat and thirst – so I went over to the coffee shop with a female friend, confident that the lady will not call our numbers anytime soon for the driving range test. And I was right – for the next 3 hours, she didn’t call for any of us. My friend dragged me into the air-conditioned office (I wasn’t even sure whether we could enter, because it was an office!), and for every 15 minutes we will head out and check whether we’re called for the second test.

Twitter feed: Waiting and waiting for my turn to do the slope test, parking and cru-de-sac (spelling error. It should be cul-de-sac, my bad!) U turn. There’s no seat so I can only stand :\

After an hour texting the tweet above, we finally got called to wait at a miserably small covered area where we were at the mercy of the hot late morning sun. Those who got called can pick any car they want for the test, but I’ve decided to wait it out until everyone in my group has completed the test.

Twitter feed: My number got called, and I’m now waiting for my turn to drive. I’m praying hard for a pass :)

I was dead nervous. When there’s only my friend and I who are the only ones left at the waiting area, I knew that my time is up. I plopped my sweaty body at the seat, and grimaced at the fact that the car windows should always be wound down and air-conditioners turned off for the driving range test. The first part to the test was a scary monster called the Slope Test – you’ll have to drive up a slope (my instructor told me that due to a measurement error, the one in that driving range was gentler), stop your car halfway such that the front tires are in the yellow box. The examiner, who’s standing near the slope, will ask to you continue your climb when he feels like it.

Lombard Street - a Flickrâ„¢ photo by ParaflyerMy car chugged up the slope, I was a little panicky so I stepped harder on the accelerator. I nearly missed the box, but managed to have the front tires inside. The examiner asked for my name. Terry, I replied. Terri Hatcher, that desperate housewife? I laughed at his question. No, I’m that Terry Fox, I told him. I was amazed that he watches Desperate Housewives, lol! He waved his hand to get me going. I stepped on the accelerator, released the clutch, hear for that distinct guzzlinng sound of petrol and released the handbrake. I squirmed a little, praying hard that my car will not move backwards (that’ll make the fail the whole damn test!). The car moved forward, and shortly after, I find myself to have completed the hardest part of the test. Woots!

After the Slope Test, I’m starting to understand how much skill it takes for San Francisco drivers to make their cars climb the steepest street on Earth – Lombard Street.

Now the Parallel Parking part – with the lot 4 feet longer and 2 feet wider than my car, I’ll have to, by hook or by crook, move the car into the lot, and out, in five minutes. I was still terrorised by the hallucination and possible prospects of failing the Slope Test, so I did a really crappy maneuver such that the car is barely inside the lot. I made a few adjustments, keeping track on the time elapsed. I couldn’t bear it any more. I hastily waved my hand at the other examiner. He squinted his eyes to see whether my car is totally in the lot – well, as far as I know, the mirror isn’t really inside the lot yet – it’s on the white line. Looking at my face which resembles that of a rabbit caught in the headlights, a mixture of fear, confusion and dazed-out, he let me pass.

Finally, the Cul-de-sac U-turn part. What I really need to do is enter the dead-end, make a U-turn (without knocking over any of the poles), get my ass out and I’m done. I got it, threw my car in reverse, scrambled for the gear and rushed out – I couldn’t wait to get out of that microwave oven under the sun. After a disaster-less round, I’m done! I waited for my friend to complete her circuit, headed over to the examiner and got our forms chopped and signed.

Twitter feed: OMG I’ve passed! Woots :D I can finally get a probation licence and drive, heh.

This probably sums up my experience! In a week’s time, I’ll be getting my Probation License and will be able to drive my family car! Teehee :razz:

Dear readers, have you been through any traumatising experience when you’re on the road? And how was your experience with that driving test you’ve taken before?

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