Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Mediums

When I was little, and had a headful of blonde curls, my parents always recited this rhyme to me: "There was a little girl, with a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid."

I don't know if it was meant to be prophetic or descriptive, but I don't really have a medium setting. I have mellowed, to some extent, with age, but I'm still a love it or hate it kind of girl.

Lately, this tendency has reared its ugly head to my detriment as I prepare to pass my driving test. The Irish law is changing on 1 July so that Second Provisional License drivers will be required to have qualified drivers in the car with them at all times. Not only is the law changing, it's clear that enforcement of said licensing laws is also going to change. So I really need to pass my test before then.

To that end, I've been taking regular driving lessons in which we do a mock exam. I've failed them all so far and it's gotten really frustrating. I seem to be over-correcting from one test to the next. One week, I'll fail for going too slowly and being too hesitant. The next week, I failed for driving too quickly in an area full of pedestrians and a zebra crossing. This past week, it was back to failing for driving too slowly and hesitantly.

In my defense, it has been pissing rain for the last few weeks. The roads are slick and full of pot holes the size of Kansas (or even worse, rocks that have been washed down the sides of the hills). I've felt like I was driving appropriately for the conditions, but my instructor felt that a test examiner would feel otherwise.

Test examiners subscribe to the Goldilocks theory of driving - everything must be just right. The tolerances for just right seem to be extraordinarily narrow and they enforce these parameters with a robotic adherence.

When I complained about this arbitrary and rigorous approach to grading, my instructor asked me did I remember that horrible accident up in Monaghan where the five young fellas died in a fiery crash caused by speeding. I did since it was in the news a lot at the time. They were all from the same small town, which was devastated by it, and there's nothing the Irish media serves up quicker than a Carnage on the Roads story. "The next Monday," said my instructor, "the examiners here failed five young men for driving too slowly. It doesn't make any sense."

I'm trying to control what I can control - namely my approach to the test. I've been working on my nervousness and have even started taking Rescue Remedy despite being an alternative remedies agnostic. I've been trying to de-emphasise the importance of the test in my mind. Yes, I have to pass eventually, but if I don't pass the second time, it's not the end of the world. I figure I can probably pick up a re-test every six weeks or so, which should give me at least four or five tries.

But if I am ever going to find a happy medium, now would be a great time.


At 19 January 2008 at 18:56, Blogger laurie said...

i'm assuming here that you drove for years in the U.s. before moving to the middle of nowhere--so is the driving there that different? i mean, besides the obvious left-hand stuff. and those f***ing roundabouts.

my mother used to recite that rhyme to me, too. it always felt kind of hostile, maybe because she'd give me a little shake on the word "horrid."

good luck to you! maybe the sun will come out and all will be well. and it really sounds like it's the examiner who needs to be feeling a happy medium that day, not you.

At 19 January 2008 at 20:04, Blogger Kaycie said...

I'm not the person to give advice on happy mediums. I am more of an all or nothing kind of girl.

I may have told you this before, but my parents are convinced the only reason I passed my drivers test the first time (at 16) was directly related to the fact that the highway patrolman who gave me the test was my great uncle (who adored me).

I'm sure you'll make it. But it must be very frustrating for you, especially since you're feeling the pressure of a change in the law.

At 20 January 2008 at 00:23, Blogger Sandy said...

I agree with Laurie. Maybe you need to give the examiner some of that holistic, homeopathic stuff - or just a good, stiff shot!

At 20 January 2008 at 00:27, Blogger Sweet Irene said...

I got my first driver's license in California and it was a snap. I drove for twenty two years and then moved to the Netherlands and I have not driven a car since. I don't know if I would pass the rigorous exams here. They are quite strict here also and I am afraid I would fail several times before I got it right. I now use my bicycle and public transport to get around, which is easy to do. I don't really need a car, but it is funny how someone who used to "drive like a man" has gone to not driving at all. On top of that, I have to say that drivers in California were much more polite than they are here.

At 20 January 2008 at 05:10, OpenID coloursofdawn said...

I heard that poem recently at a home school activity in which the family of Tuininga Treasures (on my blog roll) got up and recited the poem. Their youngest has curly blonde hair and was part of the recitation. It was very cute.

That is too bad about the drivers test. I am not sure if I could pass the test again. My daughter is taking driver training, in car part in February and we hope she gets her license shortly after.

At 20 January 2008 at 06:24, Blogger ped crossing said...

I spent one summer teaching driver's ed to teenagers. That was a hair raising experience.

I can't imagine your driving needs the fine tuning that theirs did. You must be moving towards the happy medium.

I hope you make it and soon.

At 20 January 2008 at 11:52, Blogger -Ann said...

Laurie - Your assumption is correct. I've been driving for 20 years. Driving in general isn't that different - testing is. The standards are very high and narrow and you don't get any slack for being an adult.

Kaycie - I wish I had a relative that was a licensing examiner. :)

Sandy - Maybe I should get some sort of Rescue Remedy nebuliser.

SI - That is funny, but it really is down to your environment, isn't it? When we were in Dublin, I walked or took the bus nearly everywhere. Out here in the Middle of Nowhere, those aren't really viable options. I don't think I could drive in the Netherlands - too many cyclists!

COD - Good luck to your daughter.

PC - I can't imagine being a driving instructor. I'd rather be a catcher of rabid dogs. I think I've solved my initial failure problem (using the gears properly), so, theoretically, if I drive the way I did when I first took the test but just operate the gears properly, I should pass. Hopefully!

At 21 January 2008 at 12:08, Blogger amy said...

I hope you find your happy medium and ace this upcoming test. Otherwise, take that curl right in the middle of your forehead and swing it to the bad, bad side and throttle your examiner. I can see the headlines now...

Best of luck to you!!
p.s. thanks for reminding me of that poem. My mom used to say that about me all the time.

At 21 January 2008 at 19:42, Blogger -Ann said...

Amy - Thanks for the encouragement. You know what's funny - even though my hair isn't really curly at all anymore, I do have a curl in the middle of my forehead. It's covered up by my bangs, but it's there. :)


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