Learner’s Permit

In an unchanging small town, I went to elementary school with pretty much the same thirty-some students for eight years.  When we got bused to high school, we were blended in with other area students, now in four different classes of thirty-some students.

Provincial law insisted that students could not leave school until they were sixteen.  There was a local girl whose birthday was in the spring, as opposed to mine, in late September.  She had an older friend who worked in the local beauty parlor, who would train her to be a hair-dresser.  She finished grade eleven, and quit school to take the job.

She quickly established a clientele and made decent money, some of which she saved, to buy a car.  Her house was on the street behind my sister’s.  When she got off the school-bus, she cut through the property, sometimes stopping to talk.  She was a very mature young lady, unlike my immature, scatterbrained sister.  Despite the ten-year difference in ages, they got along well.  When 21 was the legal drinking age, my 26-year-old sister and her just-as-silly husband, used to take her to hotel bars.  My sister drove her to the county seat, to get her learner’s permit.

The next spring, she bought a small car, and practiced her driving skills.  By this time, I had turned 16, and owned a car I couldn’t legally drive.  It was time to get my learners permit.  I spoke to my sister about it.  She said that my ex-classmate had an appointment to take her road test, and if I wanted to come along, I could write my learners exam.

On a lovely, warm, sunny, June day, we set off, the two gals in the front and me in the backseat.  Imagine a triangle of roads, each side 25 miles long.  From our town to the county seat was 25 miles from A to B.  We got to the edge of town, where the road to the county seat split off the main highway.  Instead of taking the A/B road, we continued on the A/C side of the triangle.  I thought we had to pick up something, or someone.

As we entered the next town, five miles on, I asked where we were going.  To the county seat.  But the road back there takes us to the county seat.  We’ve never been that way.  We’re afraid of getting lost, so we’re taking this route.  Oh well, I’ve got all day.  Sure enough, we drove 25 miles south before turning left to drive 25 miles east, on the C/B side of the triangle.

We got about halfway across, when we had a flat tire.  Not a sudden blowout, we must have run over something.  Just a steady TTtthhhh, lub, lub, lub, and the left, rear tire was flat.  The driver pulled the car well off the paved road, and we got out to look at the problem.

Long before Japanese cars reached North America, hers was smaller than any Detroit iron.  It was probably a Taunus or Vauxhall, imported from England.  Two females and me, guess who got volunteered to change the tire!?  Neither of them knew how.  “Where’s the spare tire and jack?”  “I don’t know.  I’ve only owned it a little while, and I’ve never needed them.”

I pulled crap out of the trunk, and finally found what I needed.  North American cars had bumper jacks, because the cars still had bumpers.  I was faced with a scissors jack I’d never seen before, and had to figure where to place it under the car.  Impact-wrench-installed, rusted-on lug nuts finally surrendered, and I got one wheel off, and the replacement on, and at last we were on our merry way again.  Well, they were merry.  I was rust and grease stained, with bloody knuckles.

Of course, she was late for her scheduled road-test.  She tried to convince the examiner to fit her in, but he had a full day.  She had to rebook for another day.  While she was doing this, I wrote my little test and was awarded my learner’s permit.

After a couple of months’ legal driving practice, I drove my Dad to work, took the family car, and my Mom accompanied me as the licensed driver when I went for my road test.  At least we took the short way there.  The capital of the neighboring county was the same distance away, but it was the little city with the big hills.  Tales circulated of testees getting half-way up the cliff road, when the examiner would reach over and turn off the ignition, to see how you dealt with the problem.  I preferred the flatter city, and managed to get my full license on the first try, something that not every teenager accomplished.

The winner loser in that competition was a British woman who took 49 tries, over 22 years, to finally get a driving licence.  Ah, the freedom of the open road.  While I’ve not driven as much as others, like my brother, I’ve been able to visit some picturesque and interesting places.  I’m not sure Detroit qualifies, but that’s where I’m going next month.  Feel free to tag along.  Right now, I’m going to drive over to SightNBytes place, and pick up my most recent blogging award.

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20 thoughts on “Learner’s Permit

  1. benzeknees says:

    I also passed my driving test on the first try with a standard transmission even though I cut off a cop car during my test. It was okay, the instructor knew he was tailgaiting & there was no way I could have seen his signal light indicating he wanted to change lanes.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Standards were all they had when I went. Just a small stick to poke the little dinosaur under the hood. The examiner must have known what I’ve found out, some cops only think they can drive. 😛

      Like

  2. aFrankAngle says:

    I passed mine on my first try too … but heck, I don’t have a great story as this one to go along! Congrats on the award … and yes, I was able to drive there to see it.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      You’ve got some pretty good stories! I thought I might have passed while driving a manure spreader, from all the hors….FERTILISER I’m spreading. 👿 You have to take the ferry to drive to SnB’s place.

      Like

  3. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Flunked the written part the first time (didn’t realize you were REALLY supposed to study for it, ahem, passed the second time)…me and my dad cruising around the neighborhood – I refused to drive over 10 miles an hr (I was SCARED!) he yelled at me – that was it…I would sneak and drive illegally by myself up and down the roads by the river until I learned. (I have never changed a flat tire! ever.)

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Brother-in-law had a standard Datsun and an automatic Ford wagon. When he wanted to spend a weekend fishing he took the wagon, and left the stick-shift. I had to go over several times, to teach sister-in-law how to drive the standard, because he YELLED at her. 😦 (He yelled at everyone.)

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  4. Oh, the perils of learning to drive. I was one of the many Chathamites who failed first time out. Of course, we Chathamites are notorious for bad driving habits, alas, I remain steadfast in my belief that I can drive better than half of ’em. Hubby still drives like he’s on surveillance, so guess who was tasked with the teaching/yelling/white knuckling of D1 and D2? Nice post Archon and congrats on your award! 🙂

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    • Archon's Den says:

      We all seem to think our city is the worst for drivers, and we may all be right. I learned in a small town, then moved here to Chaosville. I took my mother shopping one weekend we visited, and drove there, as I drive here. Apparently scared the hell out of her. I would think your patience and training with D1 and D2 were appreciated. Who gets to do K? 😕

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      • I’m hoping Hubby will chime in on that chore in a couple of years. Son is a tad sensitive and by the time he gets into the driver’s side of a car, I will most likely be suffering the ill-effects of meno-pause-and-cry-hysterically, so I will probs have him in tears before we even leave the driveway. Ugh.

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  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    Arcon, your interesting post brought back memories for me. My blue-collar father loved cars and loved to drive. Long before my legs could reach the pedals he would allow me to sit in his lap and steer on rural roads. I got my Kansas learner’s permit at 14, no adult required in those days there, and was soon chugging merrily all over town in the elderly Plymouth Dad bought me. One-piece windshield (flat), two-doors, three on the floor, straight-six engine block. Smelled a little musty.

    I recall my first speeding ticket like it was yesterday. I was coming home from a date. It was after 11p, the town streets virtually empty, and I was blissfully unaware that an absence of other traffic impairs one’s normal sense of speed. Out of nowhere, Barney Fife appeared and I was signed up for two weeks of traffic school, replete with scary photos of mangled teen age bodies in wrecks. Humiliating is what it was.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      That was Kansas. If you fall asleep at the wheel, you wake up when you run out of gas. Humiliating works. I read a Sci-Fi story where the 18-yr-old applicant was put through a mentally-implanted horrific crash, complete with copious blood, death and dismemberment. After coming out of Total-Recall he was asked if he was ready to try the actual road test. When he answered “Yes”, he was told to come back in six months, because anyone who experienced that should show empathetic concern. He was judged too agressive. 😦

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  6. Sightsnbytes says:

    Your award is here, but since you are stopping by, stay awhile. We have the BBQ fired up, and marinated beef and moose steaks ready. Beer is free as well.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      MMmmh! Moose steaks! Keep this up, and I may actually show up some day. Not sure about that Pine Beer though. I grabbed a repro of the award picture, and finished the acceptance speech last night. It goes up Sunday morning. 😀

      Like

  7. Sightsnbytes says:

    Great Story. I bet we all have good Driver test stories to tell. I passed on my first try, but not without a bit of luck. Driving dad’s old ’74 double cab Dodge truck, I actually ran a red light, put the thing in reverse, and backed up until I was legally waiting for the light to change. The examiner was so scared that he retired soon after. I think I impressed him when I parallel parked the old dodge, and even angle parked it with perfection.

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    • whiteladyinthehood says:

      I actually ran a red light, put the thing in reverse, and backed up until I was legally waiting for the light to change – BEST LAUGH OF THE MORNING!!!

      Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      If only you’d had the rusty Corolla. Tough enough for a new driver to test in a little car. It must be extra hard to show up in a truck. In my home town, all parking on main street was angle. It’s easy enough, but parallel-parking that Dodge must have been a bitch.

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      • Sightsnbytes says:

        you forget that I live in Newfoundland. parallel parking and angle parking was considered excitement back then…lol. I swung the rear end of the old truck right into the little space they had allotted.

        Like

  8. 49 tries for a license? Yikes. Sounds like maybe that person should invest in a nice bicycle.

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