I guess you could call me SpongeBob.
If you’re not familiar with the show, one of its running gags is that SpongeBob is a terrible driver and has failed every single behind-the-wheel driving exam he’s taken, much to the dismay of Mrs. Puff. He’s even ended up inadvertently putting her in prison because of his poor driving skills. It’s a long story.
Anyway, you might recall my euphoria way back in July 2014 when, after studying really hard in the hopes of passing the written exam, I obtained my permit. That permit, despite a few restrictions, granted me the right to ride my scooter legally for one year and in the meantime, gave me time to schedule an appointment at the local DMV so that I could take my skills exam.
I did indeed take my skills exam in March 2015 – and I failed it miserably.
So here we are on July 28, 2015. I had scheduled my DMV exam a few weeks ago for this day, the day before my permit expires.
I’ll admit that it was probably a case of bad nerves that made me screw up the first time. I went into the exam with little to no practice and wasn’t quite prepared for it. But this time, I decided to do something much different.
Last Sunday I rode over to the local DMV to ride their test track so that I could get a good feel for it without being stressed out about it. They even left the cones out for some reason.
I had the track all to myself to practice so I took advantage of it. After about 10 runs of the Serpentine Ride (weaving between the cones), I was confident in my ability. In fact I didn’t hit a single cone the whole time I was there so I was pretty happy about that.
Then came the Slow Ride in which you start in the right lane, ride around the circle at the end twice, then end in the left lane. That was a bit more challenging.
But after a few runs, I had figured out that if I didn’t touch my front brake, the bike wouldn’t suddenly stop and pull me out of the circle. (Riding on the lines is fine but going outside or inside the circle is an automatic disqualification.) Not only that, but if I throttled up at the last cone, the momentum would carry me about halfway through the circle. A few more tried and I had this one down perfectly.
With the Serpentine Ride mastered, I started the Slow Ride. Again, laying off the front brake worked wonders and I eventually got the hang of it. I was going to kill my exam this time.
I then came home and drew a huge circle – the exact dimensions, no less – in my neighbor’s driveway so that I could practice even more before today’s exam. I was going to pass no problem because I could now ride at least five times around the circle before falling out or putting my foot down.
My appointment was at 1:45 and I was ready. And because I had already taken it once, I had to pay a $7 re-test fee which I could have easily lied about because my previous DMV witness didn’t write my results on the permit as they are required to do. Had I known that, I would have probably told them this was my first time.
So I get in line and there was a guy ahead of me with his shiny BMW motorcycle who didn’t even acknowledge me, most likely because I was riding a scooter. Whatever, dude.
He failed the second he entered the circle when he put his foot down. He then complained that the circle was smaller than at the DMV office where he practiced. The DMV official wasn’t impressed.
“They’re all the same size,” he said as he marked the results of his exam on his permit. “Go inside and schedule another appointment.”
Off you go.
Then it was my turn and on boy, was I ready. The instructor was really cool and probably a rider himself with how he was speaking to me and the previous guy.
So how did I do? The Serpentine Ride was perfect. Flawless. Unbelievably simple. The instructor even gave me the thumbs up when I was done. Just one more to go and that M1 license would be mine.
I started the Slow Ride. In the right lane, no problem. Around the circle once, no problem. Around the circle again…problem. Watch what happens at 0:59 of the video.
No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
One more turn and I would have had it. I don’t know what the hell happened to make me swerve into the circle. I didn’t hit the front brake. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
Whatever the case, the instructor let out a loud “OH NO!” the second I fell inside the circle and unlike my previous exam, he wouldn’t give me a second chance which I thought was kind of lame. My first exam, I put my foot down which is an automatic DQ but they let me go again. What does it matter if I drifted out of the circle for three feet this time? I was literally 99.5% through the exam and had only one section to go. Why not give me another chance or better yet, just pass me so I can get this over with? I showed him I could do this.
Nothing doing. He marked the Slow Ride a DQ. After all this practice, one minor mishap killed me. I was NOT happy about this because with my permit expiring, I now have to pay for and take the written exam again (already scheduled) and then take the skills exam again.
ARGH. Just unbelievable.
The good thing is that scooter riders aren’t exactly tops on the list of people to get pulled over. So I have that going for me for the next few weeks, which is nice.