Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Accomplishment Two YEARS in the Making!

Thevictorian family not only has a new car tonight...it also has a NEW DRIVER!

I am pleased to announce the arrival of our most recent bundle of licensed driver, THE PONY!!! He joined the population of legal drivers at 9:38 this morning. Well done, you little scamp! As for now, the twain of Acadia and Pony ne'er shall meet. Not until The Pony has accrued significantly more miles under his cinch.

The Pony was more of a reluctant driver this morning than Don Knotts was an astronaut. He didn't want to get up and get going. He moaned of his nervousness. I ran through what the examiner would test him on. Interrogated him on his parallel parking that he practiced 15 or 20 times with Hick on Sunday. Reviewed the steering wheel position for parking uphill and downhill, on curbed and uncurbed streets. Made him point out various accessories on the car. Headlights, blinkers, windhsield wipers, hazard flasher, heat, defroster, parking brake.

"You know, Pony, all you have to remember when parking on a hill is that you want the car to roll onto somebody's yard if it gets loose. Not into traffic. So you turn the steering wheel so the front tires will hit the curb if it rolls, or so the car rolls directly into the yard if there's not one."

"I don't get it. Don't you turn the wheel to the left if you are parked uphill? No matter whether there's a curb or not?"

"NO! You don't want the car to roll its back-end into the street if there's no curb to catch the front tires! It could run over people. I know you don't really care about people. But it's common sense. Keep the car out of the street if it rolls."

"Still not clear on that. WAIT! You mean the only time you turn the wheel left is when you are parked uphill with a curb?"


"Well, why didn't you say so? That's EASY to remember." No need for The Pony to reason when he can rely on rote memory.

I also broke the news that he might have to take the written test again. You know. Because it's been two years since he originally got his permit. Even though he faithfully renewed it on time. No sweat off The Pony's brow. He LIVES for tests. After a quick roundup of more than enough documentation, we hit the road.

"Don't be so nervous, Pony. The very worst it can be is about 20 minutes of your life. That's hardly any time at all. Look. Here's a list of immediate disqualifications. I'm sure they won't happen to you. Number One is: Being involved in an accident that is your fault during the exam. What are the odds of that, really? I don't think you have to worry. Oh, no. Number Two: Running over a pedestrian. Now don't go following in your father's footsteps here. I don't think that's genetic. Number Three: Not yielding to emergency vehicles. Just get off the road as quickly and safely as possible. Don't drive along the shoulder! Signal and pull over."

"I think I can do that."

The Pony chose to drive my mom's old TrailBlazer for his test. Genius took his driving test in it. But that was five years ago, when it was in better shape. Having something to do, I assume, with my mom's upkeep, and not Hick's. The problem now is that it has a bad clutch fan. So it roars like a jet engine upon acceleration. Oh, and last night, on the way home from signing papers for Acadia, the cassette tape player went nuts. It clicked and clacked, trying to eject a nonexistent tape.

"You know, it's never done this so long. Usually, it gives a couple of clicks, the radio goes off, and then it stops and the radio comes back on." So sayeth Hick. Not so this time. That clickety-clacker ejected a phantom tape for twenty minutes. Or more.

Still, that was The Pony's choice. Hick left it home for us and drove his Ford F250 Long Bed Club Cab monster. But only because The Pony's little Ford Ranger had a dead battery. From lack of use, Hick declared.

"You should probably warn the examiner, Pony. Before you get in the car. That it's going to have noise from the clutch fan, like a jet engine on takeoff, and the tape player might act up."

The Pony drove us to the testing station, a highway patrol office next to the local junior college. He did well in the TrailBlazer. But he was a ball of nerves. We walked inside, and he hung back. There was a big sign inside the door of the exam room that said, "Wait Here."

"Pony. Come on! Wait there! I'M not the one taking the test." One of the four women at the counter asked what she could do for him. He stepped up. But said nothing. "Tell them, Pony. What you're here to do." Stage fright, I guess.

The law requires that anybody under 18 MUST bring a parent or guardian. Yet when I stepped in that room with Genius five years ago, a government wench behind the counter icily announced, "Ma'am, YOU'LL have to wait OUTSIDE." Really? I had not said a word that day. Only stood there ready to sign if needed. So I was a bit gun-shy today, entering that room with The Pony.

A male patrolman walked over to take his information when The Pony said he was there for a driving exam. "But I read on the internet that I might need to take the written exam again. Because it's been so long since I got my permit." A regular Chatty Cathy he was then. Forking over his permit. Verifying his address.

"Yes. I'm afraid you're right." The patrolMAN took The Pony to a row of computers to bring up the written test. The Pony grinned from ear to ear. I think that broke the ice. Without even being banished, I stepped out of the room to the chairs in the hall. If I leaned sideways, I could see The Pony's back. And his computer screen. It wasn't long until I heard him talking, and saw that his screen had been vacated.

"You can leave your glasses on. Or take them off. But you need to look through here at the signs and tell me what they are." Then they moved on to the eye chart, I suppose. Which made it clear The Pony had passed the written exam again. The ones some of our students take 7 or 8 times.

"I'll tell you right now, when I take my glasses off, I can't even see the top line."

"Okay. We might just as well make this a restricted license."

The Pony came out the door with a patrolWOMAN. On the way to the car, he warned her of the sounds.

"That's okay. No problem with that."

I checked my phone. It was 9:27. Two men came in. One went inside and announced he was there to take his driver's test. He was even older than The Pony! At least 35! Perhaps he had been revoked. Anyhoo...a bit later he came out with another patrolWOMAN to take his driving test.

And then, at 9:38, The Pony returned! He was walking ten paces behind his patrolWOMAN, with a little grin. He went into the exam room and returned with his paperwork. Smiling from ear to ear. Again.

"I passed! I don't know my score. But on the written part I had to take again, I only missed two. I don't remember what they were about, but I know there were TWO questions on how to turn your wheel when parked on a hill!"

"Did you remember how?"

"Sure. That was easy."

I looked at his form. He had scored a 75 on the driving part. You need a 70 to pass. You can only take it 3 times, and then you need a special letter of permission from a state official. AND you have to provide evidence of attending a driving school. The Pony was happy with his 75.

It was, after all, the same score Genius had gotten on HIS driving test five years ago.


  1. Congrats Pony!
    Parking on a hill...hmmm pretty sure you shouldn't park on the flat of a hill with the engine on, out of gear and no emergency break while you leave the driver door open (you know in case a breeze comes along) cause I know someone whose daughter did that and it does not end well for the car or the tree in your friends back yard.

    I hope you and the Pony dressed up for the test cause those are Government men you know.

    1. Heh, heh! Government men! Alas, The Pony wore cargo shorts and a collared polo shirt. It was 38 degrees.

      No back yard tree for The Pony. Although he DID run up on the curb during his first attempt at parallel parking.

  2. Congratulations to The Pony! When he drives across the stage and gets his framed drivers license, I will be there, cheering him on.

    However, I will make sure I am well out of his way, since he might not care about running me over.

    1. Good call. He would at least hold your hand before calling 911 if he follows in his father's tire tracks.

  3. Tell The Pony "Mazel Tov"--he can google it!!

    1. Will do. Although he will probably pronounce it MAY-zel TOVE. Let's not forget the Puh MEL ah debacle. Don't even get me started on "debacle."

  4. I know he'll make a terrific driver. It's hard to let go and trust in fate when our kids start driving. In my case, my son is a much better driver than I am. Merry Christmas to all of your clan.

    1. The Pony shows a surprising lack of interest in driving. I fear his future address may be: Mom's Basememt, Backroads MO.

  5. Congratz to the Pony! He is rapidly becoming a man, Val. But, Pony, remember this . . no matter how careful you are, stuff will go wrong with the vehicle only when YOU are driving it. It seems to be a rule they don't put on the driver's test.

    1. Thanks. He's pretty proud, but not so proud that he wants to get behind the wheel and take a spin.

  6. A big milestone for the Pony! I don't know if I could pass the test myself ...... still can't parallel park!

    1. The Pony said the first attempt at parallel parking, he drove up on the curb. He asked to start over, then did it right. Don't know how much of a deduction that was. At least he didn't run over an old lady and break her arm! That's a plus, in this family!