On Monday afternoon I drove Lucy an hour down to Tupper Lake to take her driver’s test.
Lucy is 19 and has not been able to drive. From the age of 15 she was away at school, and during her summers home she has had a demanding schedule of work six days a week plus two ski-training practices a day. This meant my own life has been measured out with coffee spoons as I drove her from place to place four to six times a day.
Last year I put my foot down. I would teach her to drive and we would practice before or after her long days, at either 6:30 AM or 8 PM. We worked at this dutifully all summer — an exercise in patience on both our parts (I gripped the door handle and tried not to scream; Lucy tried not to become infuriated by my gasps). Slowly and surely she improved. Unfortunately we were not aware that road tests had to be scheduled months in advance. Lucy left for college still without her license.
This summer we planned ahead. Lucy made the appointment for her road test in April. June 12th in Tupper Lake was the first available date. However, once she came home we had the problem that I was submerged in the hectic last month of my teaching year and had no time to practice with her. That’s when I had a brainwave: our friend Mike! He is retired and has plenty of time. He is a basketball coach and has lots of patience. He also has nerves of steel.
They drove for hours.
On Monday Lucy and I went to Tupper Lake for the moment of truth. Naturally I was searching for a DMV. Instead, with additional directions from a helpful policeman, we found a small dirt pull-off at the side of the road near a baseball field.
The tester was clearly not hired for his social skills. When we opened our car doors, he did not greet us or introduce himself, merely barking at Lucy, “Get in the driver’s seat!” They drove off without a further word, leaving me standing at the side of the road.
Fifteen minutes later they were back. Lucy was ashen. Apparently the man had barked at her non-stop for the entire drive. She was certain she was failing. She was further unnerved by being repeatedly called “ma’am.” When at last they parked, the man wrote up a slip on his clipboard and Lucy inquired timidly if she had passed. “Yes, yes,” he said brusquely. In fact she had no points off at all.
On our way home we stopped to give Mike the great news. It was a long time coming, but Lucy’s a driver!