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Third Timeís the Charm


Olivia Sielaff

(12/10) I sat alone in the driverís seat of the van. Waiting. My heart was thumping. Everything was quiet, and my mind started wandering. Worrying. I turned on the radio to calm my nerves. That helped somewhat, but I was still as nervous as ever. I went over everything in my head to make sure I wouldnít forget anything. I just wanted to get this over with.

Yes, I was about to take (cue dramatic music) the Driverís Test. A few weeks before taking the test, I called the MVA to schedule my driving test. That was an ordeal in itself. Because I didnít actually talk to a real person on the phone I had to try and retry numerous times to schedule an appointment. Letís just say, automated phone systems get on my nerves.

Unfortunately I had put off learning parallel parking until the last minute. Iím a big procrastinator. The night before the test (like I said, procrastinator), I practiced parallel parking around town. It was dark and I was tired, but I knew I had to learn this since it was an important part of the driving test. If you were around town that night you might have seen me backing up, hitting the curb, and sighing in distress about hundred times. I was certainly there long enough for someone to have noticed me. After about two hours, I was somewhat sure I had a technique.

The next day I woke up bright and early to be the first one to take the driving test. Of course, I was very nervous. Once my dad and I got to the MVA, I went directly to the desk, told them my name and what I was there for. "Iím sorry," one of the employees said. "I donít see you on our schedule. Are you sure you called for an appointment?" I thought it was some kind of joke. I went through all that hassle of trying to schedule on the phone, and it didnít even work. Unfortunately I wasnít able to take the driving test that day. And much to my chagrin, the teenager who was in "my" time slot was standing in line behind me.

After wallowing in my disappointment for a few hours, I realized it was probably for the better that I didnít take the test that day since I wasnít confident I would do well. But the second time, I would be ready.

Again I woke up bright and early to be at the MVA. Right away I was given some paperwork and then instructed to begin the test. And thatís where I found myself as I began in this article Ė nervously waiting alone in the car with the radio on while I watched other teens take their driving test. With just enough time to say a quick prayer, one of the driving instructors came up to the van so I could begin the test. The first thing I had to do was beep the horn and make sure the doors and windows worked. Check. Next, I had to turn on the headlights. Check. After that, the instructor had me push on the brakes. Uncheck. "Miss, one of your brake lights is out," the instructor said shaking her head. "You canít continue with the test until you get that fixed. Sorry." Defeat again! After all those hours of driving, after all those times parallel parking, after all that practicing and worrying, I couldnít take the test because one brake light was burnt out?! To say the least, I was not happy that day. I went home for the second time without a license. However, I decided to give it one more try and hope for the very best Ėor at least no broken lights.

The third time, a few more weeks later, the brake light was replaced, and I was more than ready to just get the test over with. The first driving skill I was tested on was parallel parking. I slowly drove up to the parking space, turned on my blinker, and began backing up. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, for once. In a few seconds I was in the space and put the van in park. "Howíd I do?" I asked the instructor. He opened the door to check and bluntly said, "Youíre too far away from the curb." At that moment I truly felt like giving up! My heart sank and I knew I would have to come back for the fourth time. I was about to hang my head in defeat when the instructor told me I still had time. Little did I know that I had three minutes to parallel park even if I didnít succeed the first time. With one last try I carefully inched backwards and forwards, trying not to pay attention to the time, until I successfully parked! I heaved a big sigh of relief and with renewed spirit I was positive that I could pass the rest of the test.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending. That third time, I passed the driving test with just two seconds to spare while parallel parking Ė my time was two minutes and fifty-eight seconds. More than a year after getting my permit and trying three times to take the driving test, I am proud, and relieved, to say that Iím now licensed to drive. Having my license brings me one step closer to becoming an independent, young adult. I havenít driven much by myself, but there will be plenty of opportunities for that. Right now Iím just glad I donít have to go back to the MVA for awhile.

Read other articles by Olivia Sielaff