In the Driver’s Seat
The entire experience revolving around getting licensed and buying a car in Israel is part comedy and part tragedy. I cannot cover all of this in one post, so I’ll start by discussing the adventure of getting licensed here.
There are three entities in this story: the Israeli Department of Motor Vehicles (which bears another name I don’t know, so I will call it the DMV), the driving instructor (I’ll call him Hal here), and me – the poor individual stuck dealing with the other two.
My adventure begins by calling Hal, who serves as the intermediary between me and the Israeli DMV. He tells me he will take me to the DMV, sort out the paperwork, and then, as he puts it “we are laughing all the way to the test.” In his mind, getting the DMV paperwork sorted out is the hard part. To quote a cliche: “Not!!”
Hal informs me we must leave at 6:30 in the morning to avoid traffic and get to the DMV. He picks up me, then-8-month pregnant mother of three first, and the other student, a single woman, gets an extra 15 minutes of sleep on me. At that time in my life, 15 minutes of sleep meant a lot to me! We get to the DMV, I am shuffled through the bureaucracy, signed, stamped, and returned out the door without much fuss. Hal then insists on buying me the best lemonade in the country at a stand outside of the DMV. Unfortunately, we are too early, the lemonade is not ready (seeing as we left the house at 6:30 and were one of the first people inside the building…). Okay, we have a water and croissant instead. Hal explains that there is so much traffic, so there is no point in getting in the car to just sit, so we should sit here instead. “If we leave now,” I think to myself, “we will be home sooner than in we leave in 15 minutes, though.” Either way I am stuck sitting with this fella instead of getting on the move. Ugh. I do have a few things to do at this point in my life. Namely, get back to sleep.
On the car ride back, I ask about the fees. There is a fee for taking me to the DMV, a fee for each lesson, and a fee for the privileged of using his car during the driving test, as if it were even an option to use my own car. My teacher, in his infinite wisdom gets to decide how many lessons I need in order to pass the driving test. Best of all, he is the one in charge of scheduling my driving test. Am I the only one detecting conflict of interest here?
With just a few weeks to go before Elan’s birth, I feel like a ticking time bomb. I need my license in order to buy a car. I need to buy a car because the one we have rented seats five, and we are on the precipice of becoming a family of six.
Now, the lesson begins. From the moment I take the wheel, I am being shouted at in his arrogant and patronizing voice. First I drive too fast, way, too fast. Apparently, all the other cars on the highway are going dangerously fast, and I must slow down. “Forgive me,” I say in a feeble voice “In the States I was taught to drive with the flow of traffic. Does this rule apply here?”
“Nonsense!” he shouts.
Then I drive too slow. Apparently, a mother pushing a buggy could pass me, so I must speed up. And I am meant to signal when staying in my lane but driving around the bus parked by the curb. And I must not be so heavy with the gas; I am too wasteful. As he barks out a litany of instructions, I can barely concentrate on driving. Most importantly of all, he tells me, I must stay in the right lane whenever feasible. Hal quotes chapter and verse from the driving rulebook. I cannot wait for my lesson to end. When it finally does, Hal simply tells me “We will be in touch.” I am supposed to just wait patiently to find out when I am taking my exam.
So the wait begins. I wait and wait. The days pass, and there is no phone call. He knows I have an expiration date. Finally, the day that I em en route for a final getaway before the baby is born, I get a phone call. “Tomorrow?” Sigh. No, I cannot come tomorrow. My due date comes and goes, and a new baby enters my life. I get a respite from the rigors of driving school and get to enjoy our new baby.