Driver’s License

17Jun11

Wednesday, I got my driver’s license. Yeah.

People warned me. It’s Kafkaesque, it’s the weirdest place in DC.

And I was not disappointed. First, I biked to the Georgetown dispatch at 8 am, with the office opening at 8:15am, and the line was already long. Funny enough, I met a colleague of mine, a Swede, in the line. And it’s nice, you always have the someone explaining the groundrules before they open the doors (same happened to me when getting my social security number). “No food, no drinks in the waiting area. Don’t block the entrance of the stores.” But all stores where closed anyways.

And then people start retrieving their numbers and are distributed from the main frontdesk. A0013, E035, C112. I got my number – I007. Next line, this time sitting. Waiting for my turn to get my computer for the driver’s exam. Then I am on: 20 out of 25 questions are needed to pass. Computer 2.

Here, I have to confess: it was my second try. The first intent was on Saturday, and I didn’t really expect they would test me at all as I was sure the office would ask me for some weird document that I had to get first. But no, there I was, with 13 year driving experience and my German knowledge of driving rules already a bit rusty, and without ever having looked at a manual or a question. Maybe a bit of European arrogance, I must confess as well. But no chance. At least it didn’t cost me anything.

While studying 3 days for the exam works quite well, I can now say, it was not as easy as expected. There were actually quite a series of questions on how to drive that I found really useful. For example, what to do when your accelerator sticks (Did you get the latest twist in the Toyota accelerator recall saga? There was never an incident of a sticked accelerator, only one of a jammed floor mat!), how to park downhill, and how much space to leave when passing a bike (important!).

“Congratulations, sweety”, said the officer, and happily I received my next number, to pay. Number D406. Waiting for paying took longer than all the other bits and pieces together. But then, quick eye vision test, and last procedure:

The picture, a smile, and the license is printed within seconds.

So far, so good. Only at home I realized that they didn’t add the heart to show I am an organ donor. Even though I marked it on the form!

And now, what car should I get?

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