Yes, that proverbial "monkey" is indeed off my back. Officially, today at 9:26 AM, I successfully completed the practical portion of my UK Driving Test. Thanks to the fine, and last minute tutelage of my friendly AA driving instructor, Byron, I passed the test with 0 major faults and 2 minor faults. (Technically, you can't pass the test with any major faults or 15+ minor faults).
The day began at 6 AM when Byron and I set off in the AA "learner's car" ...yes, the one with the big letter L on the front and back of the car, a HUGE bar across the roof of the car that read "LEARNER", and the rather tacky yellow and black logo of the AA Driving School on the hood and both sides of the car door. Anyone looking from outer space would have been able to locate me with no problem whatsoever.
To be truthful, I was a bit nervous, because (1) I had taken this blooming test before and failed, and (2) the entire process has just taken a little under 7 long and arduous months to complete. Besides the "loser" feeling I would have had if I failed again, I don't think I could have withstood another 8 weeks of waiting before the "next" test, which would have resulted in more tube/bus travel to work in the current oppressive London heat. My one way travel time to office: 1 1/2 hours on public transport versus the 20-25 minutes in a car. My perfectly good SUV has been sitting curbside ...one tank of gas consumed in 7 months. That is ALL about to change.
I do think the "round-about" gods were smiling on me today. Not my strong suit when I was at the top of my driving game, but I did seem to get the easy round-about exam questions this morning. I'm not complaining, mind you. Totally OK with that. As Byron said, we just need to teach you to pass the driving test...and that was good enough for the day.
So, what was the first thing the newly approved driver did after passing her practical test? Hand the keys to the learner vehicle back to Byron and politely ask "would you mind driving the 45 minutes back to West London? I am worn out". Yes, the earliest date and location I could schedule an exam was some 45 minutes outside of London in a town called Slough. Slough...a place that will always carry a warm place in my heart...
This weekend's US Independence Day celebrations will take on a dual meaning for me...I am now free to drive all over this country if I want to. For now, a drive to IKEA and/or Costco sounds promising since it is a destination you really need a car for. A thrilling prospect indeed; don't knock it until you have been barred from driving for 6 months b/c you only have a "learner's permit". And that is after 30 years of US licensed driving.
But not anymore....