My dad set up another appointment for me to take the test on Thursday. The problem was, in which car should I take the test? Should I take it in the family van? No, it was decided, because that might fail the initial inspection. Should I take it in the Dodge, the car I would inherit? Again, no, for the same reason. What then? My sister’s car? The one I had driven once, and that was in the my church’s parking lot?
That meant it was time for a crash course (pun intended) in driving my sister’s car. So my dad and I headed over to the driving school’s parking lot near my house. We worked for an hour or so on parking, parallel or otherwise, and generally driving around, so I could get a feel for the car. I succeeded the parallel parking, and I felt that I was ready for the test. The only thing I was worried about was bumping the curb, which wouldn’t fail me, but if I did it 3 times I would fail.
Then there was the warning signal.
My sister’s car is a newer car, and as such, it provides a warning every, I want to say every 3,000 miles or so, saying it is time for “regular service.” Now this light goes off after you start driving, so that wasn’t a problem. The problem was there was another warning signal, saying that one of the lights was out. More annoying was that it flashed on and off, repeating the need for “regular service.” If the MVA tester had failed the other car for the headlight cover, this car would definitely fail for the flashing warning lights. So we checked around the car, and found a small license plate light was out. We replaced the bulb. Did that fix the problem?
Well, it turns out that one of the taillights was loose, and that’s why the message kept flashing. We thought we had tightened it, but on Thursday, on the way to the MVA, the message started flashing AGAIN! We pulled into a gas station, and sure enough, the bulb had bumped out of place again. We got it back in the spot, and all the warnings went off. HOORAY! With renewed confidence we went to the MVA.
Once again I waited in line, once again I filled out a form for my information, once again I sat in the car waiting for the tester. Fortunately, my sister’s car passed the initial physical inspection. From here on out, any problems that occur during the test were my fault. I was excited. I had never gotten this far before. I was cheerful, even if the tester wasn’t too comforting. Pull up, the rather stiff tester said, and I did, stopping at the stop-line. Here’s where you’re going to parallel park.
Right, I thought. Parallel parking. I can do this. I said so, smiling.
I proceeded to start the parking. For those of you who don’t know how to parallel park (I hope you all do. Sheesh!), you first pull up beyond the spot where you would like to park, then back in, turning the wheel. . . Ok, its kinda hard to describe, so just take my word on it. So I started the parking, backing, backing, backing.
Ok, stop, the tester said. Put the car in park, and step outside the car.
Crap in a bucket, I thought. I looked behind me, and then got out.
I had knocked one of the flags, marking the end of the parking space.
After the guy fixed the flag, he got in the driver’s seat (failed test takers are not allowed to return the car to their parents) and we drove back to my dad. He explained to me, on the way back, all one minute it took, not to knock over the flags, and that it shouldn’t be that hard to park this car, because he could park delivery trucks, no problem, and I needed to get a better handle of the car before trying again.
And then we got out, he explained it to my dad, and we returned to the main parking lot. As mentioned earlier, if you fail once, you can set up another appointment for the next day. We did that, and we headed home to practice parking some more.
I could not figure out what I did wrong that day. I tried different ways of parking, trying to do what I had done before, but I couldn’t figure out how I knocked over the flag. Did I back up too fast? Maybe. I don’t know, and I still don’t exactly know. I practiced with my dad for over an hour, though, parking and parking and parking.
Tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow I’m gonna pass.