Saturday, November 14, 2009

Most rules suspended, except stop signs

In med school you learn about how the body works for the first year. Then you learn what goes wrong. The spedometer in the car went finkley recently and thus required a suitable rental vehicle to take a road test with. I seemed tro hacve solved the problem by ordering DMV service from an "AB Driving School", which operates in both DC and Maryland. Skip to this morning, I arrive at the RI Ave station, across the parking lot from the testing center, 7 minutes to 8. 8 as a rendevous time that would allow me to get acquainted with the vehicle for 15 minutes before the test. But they didn't show: a call found that they were utterly incompetent and nowhere near the DMV at 8:15. Cutting accross the parking lot, I found an ambulance and roadwork that blocked the exit. Upon further inspection coming around the other way, there was a federal case of roadwork. On top of this were a multitude of student driver cars with timid drivers proceeding at walking pace.

The DC road test is known to be infamously easy. I wondered what the route would be around the construction zone: maybe around the triangular parking lot. Donald the Road Test Inspector took a seat and asked to check Left flasher, right, then brake. Clumsily, I did right left brake. But that didn't really matter. He pulled the emergency brake, and then said to go: "I'll tell you where to go but not what to do, right out of the lot and left at the signal, and don't use your left foot otherwise I'll fail you". What? One foot driving? Never heard of that before. Tough love. Driving sort of like I was hopping on one leg, I causiously edge out of the parking spot next to a Dick's driving school car. At the junctio I come to a complete stop, just in case. A right turn out of the parking lot, a full stop before turning right on Brentwood. "Careful around the roadcrew", I muttered. Carfeful, too, to avoid being a lemmin going off the cliff, I avoid following a pickup that cut across what seemed to be the solid-line-marked median and I turned on the left flasher and he grabbed the wheel "Game over. Intervention", I thought. He pulled the wheel around the corner. I remember striking the brake with the left foot. He ordered for us to switch places. At this point and time, why bother putting the car in park? but I did an accidental or intentional notation error could happen. "You see, this is a living city. You can't live by the (driving) book. One day there's no construction, next day they're tearing up your street. (Yes, once I practiced parralel parkiong behind a steamroller.) You've got to prove to the city that you're in control. This ain't no countryside (there isn't much countryside in DC) the city is breathing. It changes. Now how wide is the lane?" "Usually 10 to 12 feet, the distance between the white lines or from the center of the roadway to the parked cars." "Nah. It's curb to curb. Now on a road like this (unmarked two-way with dual side parking), where would you drive? Sort of to the center right with enough space to let cars pass the other way and to make sure there aren't kids running from behind cars" "THe center. You see, You got to be the master of the road. You have to see ahead. Like back there, you should've seen that truck come from behind and make a turn (whups...missed that). Back at the circle you should've seen where you were going, that's why I told you a long time before where to go". He gave more spiel, and had some dialogue about driving in the moment. and he continued driving, smoothly and carefully around the block. Failure's route? We hit a cement truck. I mean, it blocked the street. You see that?, pointing to the faded double yellow that now went off the road, you wouldn't follow that, would you. The guy put down the new marking but didn't come around to taking off the old ones. It's a living city. Now, if the speed limit was 25 mph but everyone was going 35, how fast would you go? Um...I suppose I'd go with the flow of traffic. And at 45? Well...if I didn't avoid the road, then...I guess the same applies. And alone you'd go 25, right? Yes. He took his dented aluminum clipboard with him as he went to talk to my parental figures. "Yeah, we had a talk with the supervisor about the consturction zone, but it's a living city. He seems to be following the book, but some professional practice would help. And more about getting real life practicise. I asked about getting the score sheet. "We only give them to you when you pass. If something happened on the 3rd road test they'd want to look for a pattern". "Oh, and he wanted to know about the route and tips of the trade. If we gave that out, then we wouldn't know who could drive and who couldn't".

"He didn't mention the speedometer" Mommy said. "Well, he was baffled by the cement truck. But we didn't even get to paralel parking".
This inspirational coach story would have worked in a movie if it didn't involve a not-pass situation. Of course, situations might change. Lost paperwork, lack of completing the form, etc.

_______brentwood rd________



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