05:38:14 pm on
Saturday 21 Jul 2018

Road Tests
Matt Seinberg

Every driver has had at least one road test. Some are from Hades. For me, four ceiling road tests stand out in my mind. My own, when I was sixteen, my sister’s when she was 17 and my two daughters.


My first road test.

When I took my first road test, I was living in Spring Valley, New York. I used a blue Volkswagen bug, with an automatic stick shift, which my father drove. What is that you ask? VW was the first company to have a stick shift without a clutch; pretty much anyone could drive a stick shift at that point.

Prior to the driving test, my mother took me out driving after my high school driver education class. Wherever she went, I drove. Then it was the big day to take the road test with a New York State instructor.

My mother drove me to the designated area for testing. When the instructor came over, I got in the driver’s seat and away we went. I knew I had the test nailed when I did the parallel parking portion; whew. The instructor said to me, "Pretty good kid." I knew at that moment I passed.

Forty-some years ago, when I took my first road test, you had to wait for the results to come by mail. It took a couple of weeks. I was ecstatic when that envelope arrived with my temporary license!

Four years later, my sister, Elyse, took her road test. All I remember is that she had to take it three times before she passed. I rubbed that in her face for many years afterward.

Fast forward a few years, to when it was time for my daughter, Michelle, to take her road test. I taught her how to parallel park the way I learned, way back when in driver education. That is to line up the passenger side mirror, with the back of the rear passenger-side window, then cut the wheel to back into the space. I made her do that repeatedly until she had it down cold.

 The other thing Michelle had to work on was staying on the correct side of the road; not getting to close to the cars on the right side if she was on a side street. Sometimes she scared the living daylights out of me by being so close to a parked car! After a while, she got the hang of that as well.

My wife took Michelle to the road test. She passed the first time! She was very proud of herself, as was I.

Keep one very important thing in mind. Putting your child on the car insurance is expensive. Just make sure you make the child pays at least half of the new monthly cost for that privilege.


Daughter number two takes a road test.

This past week, it was time for my other daughter, Melissa, to take the road test. She had done most of her driving in Michelle's Camry; I had taken her out a couple of times in my Mazda 6, the car she takes to college, in the fall.

Melissa, however, said she felt more comfortable taking the road test in the Camry. That's what she did. I drove to the driving site. Melissa was so nervous, repeatedly saying she wasn't going to pass, that she was nervous and generally psyching herself into failing.

To lighten the mood, I kept showing her funny cat pictures on Facebook. She didn't appreciate them at all. I kept telling her to relax, but she couldn't.

After waiting, for at least a half an hour, Melissa was at the front of the line. The instructor told her she was missing a form. We had to find the form, fill it out, and wait some more.

The mess up, a different instructor took her Melissa for her road test. I didn't have a good feeling. Eight minutes after they left for the test, Melissa was back.

I could tell from the look on the face of the instructor that Melissa didn't do well. He told me she didn't have any awareness of her surroundings. She also made many mistake; did you know that hitting the curb when parallel parking is an automatic failure? Seventy-out-of-a-hundred points are a pass. Melissa didn’t make seventy points.


It’s all in the parallel parking.

Melissa is going to schedule another road test sometime in June. In the meantime, she must learn to correct the things she did wrong. This time, I'm going to teach her to parallel park the way I taught Michelle. As well, I take Melissa out driving more in my car.

Stay tuned for the results. The sanity you save from reading this could be your own. The key is practice, practice, practice.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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