The way I see it, the process of acquiring a driver’s license could be stressful and frustrating for some and I dare say expensive.
It was only on Thursday that I enquired of a young friend of mine, whether or not she had already acquired a driver’s license and her face lit up as she answered in the affirmative.
‘How many attempts did you make?’ I further enquired.
‘Once!’ was her proud response. ‘Once for the written test and once on the road.’
We then had a discussion about how some persons had to endure over ten written tests before they could get on the road.
Well I newa!
So this week, I decided to reflect once again, on my ‘journey to my driver’s license.’
I bought a car and got a few close persons to teach me to drive. These included my brother Walter and my good buddy, Joseph Liburd.
So the day came for my written test. Fortunately, I aced that one and was allowed to go on to do the road test.
I was very confident. After all, that very morning, I had been put through some rigorous maneuvers and had had done pretty well, according to Joseph.
The testing officer at the time, was a young Police officer, originally from St.Kitts. He carried the surname Martin, I recall.
He directed me to drive to several areas of town and its outskirts and asked me to perform certain maneuvers. Well, I did them all in style, so much so, that when I was coming out of the intersection next to Scotia bank, I paused long enough to show him how careful a driver I would be on the road, by ‘looking left, then right, then left again,’ before I proceeded cautiously onto the main road.
I demonstrated the use of the gears, by utilizing all of them on route and even blew the horn around corners.
I mean, I was demonstrating to the officer, that here was a careful driver and certainly not one who would be a hazard to vehicular or human traffic.
I did two three point turns and twice was asked to reverse into off roads and did all in grand style.
At the end of the road test, instead of commending me, the man burst my bubble with the cold words: ‘You fail!’
I looked at him in shock and he spelt out my faults:
‘You stayed too long in the intersection at Scotia bank; you changed your gears too often; you blew the horn too much…’
Well I newa!
The second time that I went back was a disaster. The very same morning that I was due for the test, my car broke down. I had to get a hurried practice in Joseph’s vehicle and to my chagrin, the clutch was much sharper than mine and it cut out on me several times.
Inevitably as I proceeded to do the three point turn on the High school drive, the stupid car cut out.
‘Let’s go back to the station,’ Martin said with a smile.
The third time that I went, my car was back on the road and this time, my mother came along as the licensed chauffeur.
Well, let me tell you about my dear mother of blessed memory. Even though she was with me as the licensed chauffeur, she had only driven twice since she got her license and had not driven for donkey years. I am convinced that on that day, if she was asked which pedal was the brakes and which one was the gas, she would not have known! But guess what? She was carrying a duly updated license.
The other thing is, she wanted to see this Martin fella, who was giving her son so much trouble.
So we went on the test. I changed the gears but not so often; I did not stay long in any intersection; I did not blow the horn at all and I did two three pointers and was also asked to reverse into off roads, twice.
Thinking I had gone clear, I started to relax.
Then Mr. Martin asked me to drive into that off road at the back of the Charlestown Health Center. He then asked me to stop in the middle of the incline and then told me that I was going to reverse onto the main road, without allowing the vehicle to move forward an inch.
I carefully applied the handbrakes and moved backwards with the ease of a pro and applied all of the basic rules of thumb in going onto the main road.
As I eased back onto the left hand side of the road, I was about to stop but the smile of anticipation on Martin’s face, gave him away. I continued driving and he looked disappointed.
I went around the corner by the Maude Cross Prep school and he did not stop me.
He then told me to make a left turn down towards Brand’s bakery and that man did not tell me stop until I was alongside the Bakery!
He finally told me to return to the station.
As I pulled up next to the now NEVLEC office, he jumped out quickly and again, his smile was a giveaway. I remembered that I had heard that he had failed someone for sitting at the steering wheel when a licensed chauffeur was not seated in front with the person and so I jumped out quickly and stood on the side walk.
He laughed out loud and turned off and headed towards the Police station.
I waited patiently for about five minutes before he peeped from the main door and signaled me to come.
Then, he gave me the precious document—my license.
I was convinced that the man did not like me.
It reminds me of an incident that happened when my brother CAM was trying for his license.
Sargeant Guillard of late memory, was the testing officer and apparently CAM had messed up with the reverse at Pinneys.
The mistake Guillard made, was to tell CAM that he had failed ‘so let’s go back to the station, he said.
Well, CAM promptly got out of his vehicle and stated ‘then all of us going to walk……’
I hope that nobody has to go through the stresses that I went through and I wish all drivers safety on the road.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?