Or, how to see your life flash before your very eyes, over and over again.
As always, please refer to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles regarding laws on driving licenses for immigrants. We are not lawyers and make no claims as to the accuracy or legality of what is written here. This is only what we went through in our situation.
Mrs. Webmaster, about 6 months after arriving in the United States decided she wanted to get a drivers license. Considering the nature of public transportation in this country the Webmaster agreed. There were a few minor problems of course. First, Mrs. Webmaster had never been behind the wheel of a car in her life and didn’t have a clue on how to drive one.
The second problem is the Webmaster doesn’t own a car. He owns a Jeep Cherokee. As owners of the Jeep Cherokee know, it doesn’t handle like a car at all. This model Jeep is basically a light truck. Still, it was all we had and so began our sojourn into teaching Mrs. Webmaster how to drive.
The first time Mrs. Webmaster drove was July 4th 2005. We were visiting the Webmaster’s parents. They have a home with a very long and winding driveway. Perfect for practicing. Of course I won’t mention the drainage ditch on one side and the trees on the other side of the driveway. 😉
Mrs. Webmaster climbed in, and with the help of her husband adjusted the seat so she could reach the pedals. He then started the Jeep for her, climbed into the passenger seat, affixed his blindfold and lit his last cigarette. This didn’t help Mrs. Webmasters confidence level.
After she ripped the blindfold off and threw out the cigarette she put the Jeep in gear. She then stepped on the gas. The Jeep lurched forward of course, but Mrs. Webmaster lifted her foot up and slowed down. She then started to slowly head down the driveway.
Being a new driver, Mrs. Webmaster had a tendency to seriously over steer. The Webmaster would reach over and grab the wheel and point her back to the driveway and away from the trees or the ditch. He then calmly explained that the pedal that was to the left of the gas pedal was called the break and that she should try using it once in a while.
Mrs. Webmaster replied that she knew what a break was, but that she wanted to drive like the taxi drivers she saw back in her homeland. The Webmaster decided that he wasn’t the one to teach Mrs. Webmaster how to drive. At this point he calmly put the Jeep in neutral, applied the parking break, then jumped from the vehicle and ran screaming in terror back to his parents home.
Once they returned home the Webmaster broke out the old style analog business location system, (Better known as the yellow pages in the phone book), and started looking for a nearby driving school. He found one near their home and went there several weeks later. He informed them that they were the lucky people who were going to teach his wife how to drive. They replied that it would be no problem, funds changed hands and Mrs. Webmaster was enrolled. A month later the fun began.
Mrs. Webmaster is not a native English speaker, which was made clear to the school before she signed up. They said it wouldn’t be a problem. They misspoke a bit. The first class Mrs. Webmaster had was with a gentleman who liked to talk at the same speed the winner of the Indianapolis 500 drove. Namely faster then a speeding police car. Mrs. Webmaster had problems understanding him. However her husband sat with her and went through the lesson and helped her understand everything.
As Mrs. Webmaster studied her driving lessons she gradually improved. Also she had a friend who is an Immigrant and he assisted her with the driving practice. There was the minor difference in the friend had a car and own a jeep. As I remarked before, there is a difference in handling, as well as height above the road. Personally I think this was good experience since it gave Mrs. Webmaster a broader range of cars to practice in.
In February of 2006, Mrs. Webmaster went to the DMV office in Concord, NH. As an immigrant she was required to do this rather then take her tests at a local substation. Mrs. Webmaster didn’t feel ready for the road test so all she took was the written test. She passed with flying colors.
In March of 2006 Mrs. Webmaster went back to Concord with a friend to take her road test. She did not pass. She had problems backing into a parking space. Being a determined person, Mrs. Webmaster practiced incessantly and reversing and backing into a parking space.
Two weeks later she and her friend went back to Concord for another road test. Again she did not pass. This time she was told she was driving to slow. More practice ensued, both with her friends and with her husband. In April Mrs. Webmaster went for her third road test with her husband. This time the test was stopped midway and the examiner drove her back. Mrs. Webmaster had made a bad mistake during a lane change. She was looking over her shoulder far more then she should have and not concentrating on the road ahead of her.
More practice and in May Mr. & Mrs. Webmaster made their fourth sojourn to the DMV. This time Mrs. Webmaster passed the test. To say she was happy would be an understatement.
Our advice to you is to be understanding with your spouse, patient, and if your spouse has never driven before, enroll her in a good certified driving school. It is well worth the money and will help preserve your sanity.