"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.."- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

just a morning

Frozen air, the white sunshine gets reflected by the glass windows of the bank building I am passing by. Beautiful morning though.
As I cross the street a Driving School car parks on the side of the pavement. As my eyes notice the car I realize it’s the same car I’ve been driving long time ago, while learning for my exam.
As I continue crossing the street I recall that day, the long forgotten details and feelings of that unusual day fall again in my mind.

vintage car steering wheel
Early in the morning, pouring rain, heavy rain, raining cats and dogs… As I arrived in the parking place where the exam starts I had so many details in my head that it was about to burst. I remembered so many friends failing the exam, since the policemen doing the examination were so well known for their fantastic sarcasm. In a city where you can hardly find space for a bycicle, where the streets got disgustingly narrower and narrower each year, where nobody respects any rules, it’s self understood that passing the exam became an El Dorado…
Many friends were lucky to have a dad who could teach them how to drive in private, for I must say that in my country driving lessons are legal only in the Driving School car , with a driving instructor, and boy, the driving sessions were not cheap at all…
So that morning I said to myself: “What the heck, if I pass, I pass, if not, one more try…”
Four policemen arrived in a small Police car, all wearing leather jackets, interesting hair cuts and all smiling. They examined the papers brought from the office and called the names of the people attending the examination. So I joined another two girls and the three of us got inside the light blue Driving School car.

Our policeman examiner was a tall, blue eyed guy that first of all took a good look at out files and photos. He winked at us with a look saying “hehe, I’ve got you, girls… : )))” and then the first girl was invited to get behind the wheel. And so it all  started.
The first girl, very young, maybe hardly 18, was very stressed and forced a lot the engine as she started driving. In her high level of stress she could not concentrate anymore, forgot to signalize which way she turns and ended up by passing so close to another car that the policeman was forced to put a very strong hand on the wheel and get the car in the right direction to avoid collision. Of course after that , with a very calm sarcastic voice, he invited the girl to stop on the side of the road and after that he told her how many penalty points she had for all the mistakes she had done. Then, taking a short meditation moment that felt really like pure torture, he turned his face towards her and told her:
“How could you drive that badly, you almost got us killed.. Failed, of course”.
So the girls swapped places, the girl that had just failed got in the back of the car and the second girl started driving. But she didn’t even drive for 5 minutes and at a traffic light she did not observe the red light , so of course, the policeman did the same thing and she failed. She was devastated, he was proud.
And so, there I was, the last one. I got behind the wheel thinking “oh, well, at least I tried, damn it!”
I had to drive on the small alley in front of a local school, then got on the main street and the policeman asked me to stop in front of the bakery. So I stopped.
He descended the car slowly, no rush, took a long time, then came back with several paper packages with different pies and sandwitches and a cup of coffee.
It was raining cats and dogs still, it was such an ugly sight outside, water was pouring endlessly from the sky… The policeman turned on the radio, then turned it louder and louder, then started opening his packages with pies and, while making an infernal sound on my right side, asked me to drive.
So OK, I did drive. slowly, safely, I did my best. He made sure he ate very loud and folded the paper packages even louder , then he drank his coffee.
And then he started criticizing me for forgetting to signalize( I was wondering when the hell was that????). Then he asked me to stop on a small alley and reverse following a curved road. I did reverse and the car slided slowly , but it was really not that bad…
Again he criticized me for not doing the thing perfectly.
And so on, he asked me to drive and do all sorts of things for 45 minutes. I was tired, but funny thing, I had still loads of energy…
He got angry for all sorts of things, still I stayed calm.
Then he asked me to stop on the side. I was thinking “that’s it, I failed…”. So I parked without problems, then waited calmly for his instructions.
Seeing that I did not get finished like the other girls he asked me to drive again. So I drove again, thinking “OK, what the hell is going on today????”.
Few streets later he asked me to park. Then started to tell me about driving, I was looking at him talking and I was saying to myself: “Come on, cut the crap, say it, I know I failed, just leave me alone”.
He looked for a long while at the paper he had to fill in, his hand lingering with the pen in it, as if he had regreted something. Then his face turned and he gave me a look that seamned more like “damn you!!!” to me. In the long killing silence his lips moved and I could hear him saying:
“You passed.”


1000 words

memyselfandela, 2012

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