How I Failed my Driving Test

I started driving lessons again today after a 5 month hiatus from the steering wheel.

So while driving on the congested roads of Bishan today my instructor instructed me to make a highly illegal left turn to avoid congestion up ahead. While making this highly illegal manoeuvre, I was violently reminded of why I failed my driving test in February. I wanted to write about it at that time but felt that it would be too depressing. So now that I’m well over it, here’s how it went.

Ok so I arrive at the test centre and my instructor is there. He looks ancient, and I always fear he’d collapse from a heart attack and I’d have to GTA my way to the hospital. I’ve actually imagined the roads I would drive on and in every version of my daydreams the car crashes and we both die.

So we practice in the circuit, and I feel confident. I don’t graze any kerbs, park rather stunningly and my instructor seems all confident. So he asks me to get out of the car and drives me to the test centre to meet my tester.

This is when it all starts to go wrong. The drive to the test centre is only a hundred meters, and my instructor, as old as he is, has had more than thirty years of driving instructor experience. And yet, on the way to the drop off, he stalls the engine.

There is an awkward silence as we both stare at each other, and he hastily restarts the ignition. Thirty years of instructor experience and all I could think about was the stalled engine. I am going to fail.

Now I’m not blaming that little event for anything, but as a general rule, when your instructor stalls the engine right before your test, you can be sure that the sun isn’t going to be shining on you on that day. This is known as foreshadowing.

And sure enough, it starts to pour. The rain is so vicious it could turn a muddy car shiny in seconds, or scrub clean a shampoo-lathered mane. More foreshadowing to ponder upon.

And so I meet my tester. He looks so friendly. He goes all Willy Wonka on me and says something like “let’s help you pass your driving test today!”

Naturally, I am massively reassured and I let my guard drop to an all time low. As we walk to the car, any notion that I may fail is washed away by the violent storm.

The circuit goes well, except that I scrape the kerb on one occasion. I look at the tester right after the kerb was struck but he looks to be in total zen. He looked like he just came back from a pilgrimage through the Chilaen Alps. He didn’t even look like he noticed anything (later I would be told otherwise, the sly guy noticed everything).

I’m feeling good after the circuit. I calculate that if on the off chance that he noticed the kerb strike, I would have ten points to spare. Not a big issue, I tell myself. I just have to navigate the roads very cautiously. Very very cautiously.

I did not navigate cautiously.

I just felt so confident, and since it was raining I had this skewed notion that the faster I went and the sharper I turned the more confident and skilled I would appear. So off I went, changing gears manically, accelerating loosely and braking with little to spare. I felt like such a pro, and the entire time the tester just kept quiet. He didn’t even scribble anything down, didn’t flinch. Naturally, I thought I was totally fine.

I wasn’t fine at all.

The tester walks into the waiting room and starts off by asking me a simple question, “I have good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?”

“Of course the bad news,” I say. I am optimistic that way.

“Ok the bad news is that you failed.” He casually just announces this information as if telling me the sky was dark. Well, the sky was pretty dark.

So apparently my tester was, first of all, very good at acting. He had the most convincing poker face you’d ever see because he didn’t so much as frown at any mistake I made. And there were tons of them! Missed blind spots, the struck kerb which he obviously could feel and a lot of reckless braking and incessant acceleration. What an actor. I could almost hear the Golden Horse Awards song play in the background as he recited the mistakes.

Secondly, this guy had an insane memory. He pretty much memorised every error, every blemish on the report card he inscribed within his insanely diabolical network of deceitful expressions and deliberate optimism. I just felt at total ease and committed every single mistake I would have as if he wasn’t there. That was how he rolled and I fell right into the trap. Ouch.

And at the end of it, I didn’t even remember there being any good news. I don’t even know why he mentioned the idea of good news anyway. Above us, the electronic LED scoreboard read, Tester: 1, Justin: 0

Excuses will always abound, but it was ultimately poor planning and a ridiculous attitude that led to my demise. So the advice here is, plan ahead, get enough lessons, and contrary to popular belief, don’t treat the tester as your friend. He’s going to make you pay for that.

And what do you do after you fail? Yes. You mope about it for a few days about the two hudred plus dollars that you wasted. And then you nurse the more prevalent issue of your damaged pride before convincing yourself that public transport will serve you just fine. But let’s face it, it won’t. But you’ll lie to yourself all the same. And because of all the overseas trips I couldn’t even book a new test date with ample time to practice.

So there we are, five months later; I present to you the very sad story of how I failed my driving test.

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