The one there was led directly to Mexico.
So, picture if you will, a 15-year-old Stephanie, slightly rageful at the injustice of having to move away my junior year, even more rageful about moving back to the town where I grew up. A town I did not have fond memories of. Rage Stephanie is yawning and rolling her eyes and waiting for her turn at driving.
The turn finally comes and I try not to get distracted by the demonstration of the instructor on how he can make me brake any ole time he felt like it. The car jerks as he shows me and I sigh heavily. Finally, he lets me go on my own.
I do okay, I'm gripping the wheel tight at 10 and 2 and following directions. And then all of a sudden I see THE SIGN.
Border Crossing Ahead.
I start trying to swerve wildly, only my instructor has caught on to my terror and is controlling the wheel.
As I am hyperventilating, he is repeating over and over "we are not going to cross the border, we are not going to cross the border" and he's giving me instructions on where the turn-off is to not cross the border, only all I am hearing is white noise as I imagine my little 15-year-old self trying to slow through the checkpoint.
I will hit a guard. I will be put in Mexican prison. I will surely die in Mexican prison, and the worst part is, since I know Spanish, I'll hear all about their death plot long before it's carried out.
I don't know how we got to the turnoff, but I insisted on getting out of the car and wouldn't drive the rest of the lesson.
This experience and parallel parking were all I could think of when I went to take my driver's test.
I had practiced this more, of course. I had been allowed to drive my mother's van approximately three times: each time she apparently thought she had the driver's ed car and frantically stomped her feet on the floor to make me brake. When she wasn't doing this, she was gripping the door handle as if planning a quick roll-out escape should I try to take her across the border.
I was wired, remembering everything I had to check off to satisfy the license people. I took the written test first. You had to pass the written before they even allowed you behind the wheel. I just about bit through my lip in anticipation.
And then the man handed me my test back, I had passed!! I tried not to jump up and down, fearing points off for excessive celebration.
And then it got better.
He handed me my license paperwork! I had been approved! For a license! Without taking the behind the wheel test!!! I must have looked a little surprised because he said the name of my driving school and I nodded and he said "happy birthday" and went on to his next person.
I kept it together until I got outside and then squealed like a schoolgirl. My mom smirked in confusion, and handed me a gift. It was my first set of keys, my very own. Complete with pepper spray (I suspect this was my dad's doing).
Awhile later I found out that the driver's ed school I took was certified about a week before my birthday to give the behind the wheel as part of the class. While the class I took was not qualified, they just saw the qualification stamp on the name of the school and asked no further questions.
To this day I have never had to take a behind the wheel exam. But I am a kick-ass parallel parker. I dare you to let me prove it!
What was your first driving experience? Did you pass your first time? What was on your first keychain?