Driver’s License Averted Disaster
It appears that nothing in DC can go smoothly, nor without incident. Such is the nature of bureaucracy, but when you couple it with the fact that we are not a state (hence, the license plates “Taxation Without Representation”), all begins to go awry.
Take the case of our first son, Petya, trying to obtain his driver’s license. He’s had his learner’s permit for over a year, and when he turned 17 in September, we began to check into getting his provisional license (the full license where one can drive at night only comes 6 months after that in the new, tiered system).
Guinea pig that he is, my husband and I came to learn that the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles is in a backlog of two to three months. Hence, a cottage industry of sorts has arisen, granting permission to independent driving schools to give the road test. Which will cost you, of course. Problem is, there’s only a couple of them currently authorized, and if a student takes lessons with one, he is not allowed to take the test with the same company.
And most of them don’t answer their phone nor return phone calls for weeks on end.
Given our crazy schedule, and that of the city, the earliest we could schedule since September was December 17th, a day that shall go down in the history books. Benedetto tried to check in on the 16th with the company doing the road test, but had to leave a message.
Then, at 9:00 am, on the 17th, we received a call. Petya could not come in that day, because the company had not submitted his name for the list at the DMV.
Then Benedetto’s phone rang. Finishing the call, he quickly contacted me.
“Get the kids ready. We need to have Petya at the DMV right away. They rearranged something and suddenly, his name is on the list.”
“Now?” I puzzled.
The schoolbooks went into rucksacks, we packed some dog food, took the little guys with us, and out the door we ran. The problem was that we had no idea if this would be a fifteen-minute affair, or a five-hour affair. Located in a different part of the city, there was no frame of reference to even know if the driving course was on a closed lot, or in regular traffic.
“You’ll be on the challenging course today,” the tester greeted Petya, as the teen with the upset stomach tensed up. “All I can say is, if a sign states, “No turn except with green arrow, that’s what it means. Don’t turn right even on a green if it’s not an arrow.
“He didn’t speak English,” the tester shook his head. “How much English do you need? ‘Turn right, turn left, stay straight-!’”
Jesus, help us.
It was only ten years ago last week that we had visited Petya in Russia for the first time. He thrilled over the remote-controlled “mini-mashina” we brought him, and now, here he was, a young man driving away for his very own road test. Awww….
“He passed!” came the text from Benedetto, helping him process the paperwork as I waited with the others in the SUV.
Never mind that cars had honked at him because he was obeying the law. Taxis screeched around him and almost wiped out a pedestrian, and yes, turned right when there was no right arrow. He kept his cool. All of this in a city with a general right-turn-on-red. Confusing.
Petya received a piece of paper with his particulars, the actual license would come in the mail soon. How things had changed! He did not need to know how to parallel park, they never tested him on the 3-point turn, yet he was sure to stop at the first white line near a stop sign, and then slowly inch forward to the third white line, the crosswalk.
But Petya needed no piece of plastic to prove he had his driver’s license. As he and his father approached our car, the broad grin across his face spoke volumes. He had passed! I jumped from the SUV to give him a big hug and kiss, his siblings congratulating him inside.
All of us headed to Chinatown to celebrate his victory, and yet another milestone passed.
Tags: adoptive parenting blog and driving, DMV backlog in DC, our son passes the driving road test!, road test in DC