I just got back from taking my driver's test. I didn't pass. I was taking the driving part of it. The instructor was the really mean fat guy who was acting like a real jerk the whole time. "Too fast" he would say, even though I was five under the limit. Did I mention this guy was Huge? I'd guess, a good 300 pounds. I vaguely recognized him, I learned later that he was a city alderman, I'll call him Todd.

We were wrapping it up. I thought I was doing OK, I missed a signal on a lane change, that was about the only thing. I noticed the guy behind me was following real close, about maybe six feet. A light suddenly went yellow, and instead of going on like I expected, the car in front of me slams on its brakes. I stop. The car behind me does not stop.

It tries to, but its brakes squeal and the tires slide on the wet asphalt. There was a light impact. I put the car in park and look over at Todd. His face was red. "God can't help you now, kid. You're in trouble," he said.

Todd went to call the cops. I surveyed the damage, or rather, looked to see if I could kill myself with anything handy. I couldn't find the window scraper. Todd came back and talked to the guys in the other car. They didn't seem too mad, but you never can tell. I decided to wait for the cop before I got out of the car.

Anyway, long story short, a cop came and surveyed the damage. He deemed that it was in fact the other car's fault, a fact which Todd contested. "Any injuries?" asked the cop. Everyone kind of muttered that they were OK.

"Uh, my back, uh, kind of hurts, a bit" said Todd. Yeah right. UPDATE: see the end of the writeup.

It turns out that the other driver was driving with repo plates, when he was not in fact a repo man. Apparently this is illegal in Illinois, so he got in a little bit more trouble than I did. I can retake the test as soon as I get my white slip back, but I think I'm gonna wait to find out what day Todd has off.

Update: Two weeks ago I got my drivers license. I decided to go to a small town a few miles from here, Pittsfield. The people there were very nice, and I found out that Todd is in fact infamous in these parts among DMV persons.

FINAL UPDATE: The insurance company settled for something like $15,000. Fortunately I didn't have to pay anything.

I tried to get my license back when I was the tender age of sixteen. To be honest, I don't like driving. I don't like cars. Needless to say, driver's ed was a pain in my side, but I had to go through it, as that was what society expected. Now, the first time I attempted to get my license, I took the test at my high school when I was fifteen years old. Although I had a passing score on the test and I didn't commit any traffic violations, my instructor refused to give me the slip that I needed to get my license when I turned sixteen; needless to say, I was pissed off that I had to take the test again. In the four months or so that I should have been driving with my parents supervising, I basically sat on my ass, played video games, and did school stuff.

When my birthday rolled around in June, I went to take the test and get my license. I'll cut to the chase; the man who was administering the test made me extremely nervous, and despite having the AC cranked all the way up, I was drenched in sweat. Everything was a blur of motion and color; supposedly stop signs were ran and mirrors were left unchecked, but to this day I feel that my lack of confidence was the major cause of my failing grade. He told me to pull into the parking lot and let him out of the car, and that I had already failed the test so we did not need to continue. By this point, I was a total wreck, nearly on the verge of passing out. I turned into the parking space, but not tight enough; my 1989 grey Buick Park Avenue was careening into, coincidentally, a 1989 red Buick Park Avenue. He told me to slam on the brakes about a half second before impact, and neither my brain nor my body were functioning, so by the time the brakes were applied, the damage had been done. I backed up, hearing the metal scrape, and I parked correctly. I could go on with the details: how the cop laughed when he filled out the damage report, how the damage was appraised at $300 when the car wasn't worth as much, and how I had to explain to my mom that I didn't have my license, but in my mind those details have faded; all that remains are those few seconds before, during, and after impact.

Side note: I managed to get my license at the age of eighteen, less than four days before I had to start commuting to college. The only comment I received after the test was over involved not parking close enough to the curb. Yes, my picture looks like crap, and I still can barely drive, but at least I know that I won't have to take a driving test until I'm old and senile. Unless, of course, I get into another accident...

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