16 Again

I feel like I'm 16 again. I passed the driving theory test!

In the U.K., as an American, you can't automatically transfer your U.S. license to a U.K. one. That privilege is reserved for better-behaved commonwealth countries that didn't chuck tea into the Boston harbor over 200 years ago.

If you're here for up to a year, you can drive on your American license, but after that you have to actually do the whole shebang: take a theory test and a practical to prove you are capable of driving.

It's a real hassle and I've been dragging my feet on it. It's not strictly necessary at the moment. We don't own a car, and don't really need one, living in London (and with Uber, not owning a car has become even more convenient). Still, I'd like the option at some point.

At one point I was crazy enough to think that I would use this opportunity to learn to drive a manual properly (they have separate licenses here). As they laugh at us for saying, I can drive "stick" well enough to get you to the hospital if you are bleeding to death, but otherwise, best for me to stick to an automatic. And with driver-less cars on the way, who can worry about such things as manual transmissions?

And I'm glad I came to that conclusion because jeeeeeeeez, I had no idea that the theory test meant serious business. There were clearly people coming into the testing center who had been there multiple times. "No, I don't need to read the instructions again," one man, exasperated, told the other man behind the desk.

It's been a long time since I had to cram for a test, but that was exactly what I did. The test is 50 questions and you have to get 43 right. But, in addition to the theory part, there is a computerized hazard perception test you need to take. Did I even Google it to take a few practice ones? Nope.

So I got zero points on the first two scenarios as I crazily waved my hand at the test proctor to claim that my mouse wasn't working.

"You're not supposed to see the cursor," she said as she peered over her glasses at me and -- literally -- shushed me. "Just click the button when you see the hazard."

I could feel myself flush. I was going to have to perform very well on the next 12 scenarios since I had scored nothing on the first two. Either I am very lucky, or I am a hazard perception wizard (I prefer to believe the latter), because I (barely) passed that portion of the test.

I have to say, with the giddy excitement of having pulled it off, I really did feel like a teenager again. Now I just have to do the practical. But watch out Britain, soon I'll be let loose on the road again!

Photo credit: Human-Ants? via photopin (license)

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