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Tackling Unfinished Business – The Test (Part II)

(This story will make more sense if you read Part I first…)

I booked a road test on DriveTest in September, shortly after receiving the “Notice of novice driver’s licence expiry” letter. Fully booked for October. The first available date was November 4. Damn. We were getting dangerously close to winter and possible bad weather but hey, what’s more Canadian than a road test in a blizzard?

G test booking confirmation email
G test booking confirmation email

I texted an instructor I found on Kijiji and arranged a few hours of practice. I also rented a car for the test—I didn’t want to involve Feng in my unfinished business this time.

Something strange happened along the way. Getting behind the wheel for the first time in months, I realized I was no longer scared. Suddenly, I knew what to do. I felt confident enough and my instructor didn’t seem overly concerned with my driving abilities. “You’re thinking too much!” he said. “Just… go and try not to think so much.”

I didn’t sleep well the night before the road test. Silly me.

There are two DriveTest centres in Ottawa—Walkley and Canotek. I dealt with Walkley, closer to my neighbourhood… by Canadian standards, it’s still 8 km away.

The morning of the test, I had thirty minutes of practice with the car, then I grabbed a coffee and I registered inside the centre. I stood behind all the cars backed into the designed parking spots, smoking under the light rain. It was cold. I finished my cigarette and took a seat behind the wheel.

Waiting behind the designed spots at Walkley
Waiting behind the designed spots at Walkley

You see all kinds of cars at the test centre—driving school cars (like the one I rented), borrowed cars with anxious friends waiting nearby, brand-new cars owed by not-yet-fully-licensed overconfident drivers, cars with scratches and dents as a testimony to parallel parking training. You see all kinds of people too, but mostly newcomers. Born-and-raised Canadians tend to take their road test during summer months, when school is out and the weather nicer. Newcomers don’t have such luxury and foresight.

The examiner, a thirty-something guy with many tattoos and a bored look on his face, showed up at exactly 10:40 a.m. No doubt a true Canadian—when I turned on the heat because I was cold, he sighed and opened the window. I put the car in drive and hoped I didn’t fail the test just because I like the heat on when it’s 0⁰C outside.

Three-point turn and parallel parking were performed behind the test centre. Then I was instructed to turn left on Walkley. I merged onto the Airport Parkway and sped up. “Take the Hunt Club West exit.” I made the quick “emergency stop” in a residential neighbourhood, then back to Hunt Club, Airport Parkway and Walkley.

The examiner kept on taking notes on his tablet but I had no idea how well I was doing. I was just driving as if I was alone in the car.

“The lot if full,” he sighed once back at the test centre. “Oh, here.” I saw the spot too late and I didn’t park straight enough but apparently this final parking job wasn’t part of the test because he gave me a puzzled look when I reversed to fix it.

“Congratulations on getting your full G licence. Just go inside the test centre. Bye.”

And that was it. It was 11:10, the test was exactly 30-minute long.

The instructor was waiting for me. I gave him back the car keys and told him the good news, then he drove away.

Right after passing the G road test
Right after passing the G road test

I walked inside the test centre. It was packed. I took a number because it seemed like the right thing to do, then ten minutes later I realized one of the twenty thousand signs posted I was reading out of boredom instructed drivers who had passed the test to go directly to one of the booths.

Inside Walkley DriveTest centre
Inside Walkley DriveTest centre

You must have heard a joke or two about the American Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV—apparently, it’s never a pleasant experience. Well, holy shit, it’s the same in Canada.

“Hi, I just passed the G test and I was told to come inside the centre.”

“You have to go to Service Ontario and pay $63.”

“Sure! Is this the step to have the G licence issued?”

“Are you stupid? The paper I just gave you is the temporary licence. Do. You. UNDERSTAND?”

I stared at the woman in disbelief. No, I didn’t really understand. I didn’t even know how Canadians could be so rude—are they required to undergo some kind of training?

Not a single sorry was offered. I paused for a couple of seconds, then decided I’d just Google the next step instead of asking. I glanced at the paper one last time—it did say “G licence”—and left.

I walked out of Walkey with my temporary licence neatly folded around my G2 licence.

Yes, I walked out. The instructor had left with the car. A licence and no vehicle. Story of my life.

But damn, it feels good to deal with unfinished business and achieve something.

In the O-Train to Downtown Ottawa
In the O-Train to Downtown Ottawa

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