Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Its enough to drive you crazy

Today was a comedy of errors that others may refer to as the Irish Driver's Test. This journey started a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away... But I'll fast-forward to more recent events as it is still enough to have you shaking your head and wondering if poor Malinda is going to survive another year in this G*&%! country.

To be a licenced driver here, you have to start from scratch, no matter how many years foreign driving experience or how clean record is (already one can see this is very different from Miami and Pepe's Licence and Taco Stand over on Calle Ocho). So, when we got here to Ireland we had to pass a test to get our Learner's permit and had to hold the Learner's for a time period of no less than 6 months before sitting for our full licence exam. All fair and good. We have been renting cars from one mister Dan Dooley since our arrival in April and driving legally and expensively under our American driver's licences.

One month ago, we received in the mail our Full Licence test date. 13th January 2009 at 9:15am. Along with this form was a list (double sided) of the requirements for your car as you take the test in your own vehicle. Most of it is obvious; car must be in good working order, insured, taxes paid, etc. One bulleted point spoke to us directly, indicating that drivers wishing to use a hired (rented) car must provide a letter indicating that they are insured to do so. The procurement of this document became MY domain. Quickly and without hesitation, I called to my man, D.D. and spoke to Mary, who promptly acquiesced. She sent an email stating that Mrs. Malinda Walsh with Amer Lic. # blah, blah, blah was insured to drive car No. blah, blah, blah. (start to keep track - this is email #1) Upon receipt and review, I realized she only indicated me and called Mary back to remind her that I'd asked for both myself and my husband. A second email arrived shortly thereafter (#2). To prove the adage that no good (or timely) deed goes unpunished, as I presented the documents to Manus for his approval and praise, he reminded me that by the time we took the test, we would have a different rental car, thus different car number. ((another funny joke - one can only rent a car for a max period of 28 consecutive days, this means that every month we have been driving to Dublin airport to trade out one Ford Focus for another))

When my parents left on Jan. 2nd, I drove them to the airport and myself to the rental agency to pick up our next, and presumably last, car. Manus asked me to make sure I checked the car over; that everything worked, that all dues were paid and current, etc. as THIS would be the car we used for the test. I rolled my eyes to heaven and said, "What? You think they would give us a car with expired tags or a broken taillight? ...foreshadowing....They are a respectable company and we, VIP clients!!"

I returned home from Dublin and gave a shout to my main gal Mary. So sorry to inconvenience but would she send another letter referencing this new car. She did. (email #3)

Now its yesterday and Manus takes the car for a final practice drive. Upon exiting the car, he glances at the tax and tag stickers clearly evident on the front windscreen, and BOTH are grossly expired. 01/2008 no less. Gulp. I readied myself for a tongue lashing and an impromptu round-trip to Dublin, but mercifully, neither materialized. Apologetic Dan Dooley actually sent someone out to Kilkenny with another car. And, as you know, another car means another car number and another request to Mary (#4). I couldn't help but laugh to see her email come through with, again, only MY driver's information on it. C'mon! (email #5)

We arrived to the testing center this morning to see an earlier applicant returning from her test and shaking her head "no" to her waiting mother. Another bad sign, we said... Manus' appointment was first and he went in with his paperwork. His rapid return to the waiting area was not a good indication of success. Our blessed letter from Mary was insufficient as it did not indicate that we were insured "specifically for the purposes of a driving test." I don't recall them ever asking us what we were going to do with the car when we were approved for the insurance. Seems to me, they didn't care. And of all times, a driving test should be the obvious time one would be insured- you know we are going to actually be driving the speed limit and obeying traffic laws! 15 minutes pass as the instructor is on the phone with his supervisors. Meanwhile we get Mary on the line (she hates us by now) and she prepares to draft yet another letter tailored to the asinine specifics of the Irish Road Safety Authority. She will email it to us. The instructor comes out and when we ask him for a computer so as we can print out our new letter, he admits sheepishly, "We haven't actually got any computers here - We are a bit backwards"
No. Fucking. Kidding.
So we race home, ignoring all posted speed limits and narrowly avoiding collision to print out the letter from our home computer.

I return and take my test, only a minute late for my 10:05 appointment time. And this is a serious test. We drove around town for 40 minutes. I was tested on all sorts of things: three-point turn, reversing around a corner, hand signals and typing out your address in morse code with your brake lights. I honked out Yankee Doodle Dandy for extra credit. And...it must have worked because.... I passed.

(Manus was fortunate to be rescheduled for 2pm this afternoon and he is on his way there now. Wish him luck.)


Simon said...

Brilliant !

Anonymous said...

OMG! My brain hurts. Well I am glad that you can officially drive now. Hope Manus can too. What would the world be like if we all lived like the Irish? hmmmm
Miss you-Georgie

Clodagh said...

Congratulation Malinda, How did Manus do?
As an Irish person reading your blog I am not sure what to make of Georgie's comment on how "Irish people live". Bureaucracy and bulls**t are rife in every culture.

Debbie said...

lol and Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God.
I thought I was the only one who had to deal with days like that. Seriously. Things like that happen to me all the time here...in my own country...my hat is off to you.
The part about the Morses Code on the brake lights had me howling! You have GOT to send some of these blog entries in to Parents magazine or SOMETHING. It's just not fair to the rest of the world for us to keep your wit to ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Hi Malinda! Congrats on passing your test! You are way braver than me!!! Thanks for contacting me via my blog. It's always comforting to know there are more of 'us' out there!!! Wish we were in the same city to atleast meet up! Looking forward to reading your blog!

Paula said...

I am impressed! When I need a French license, I cheated. I flew back to Charlotte, went across the state line to South Carolina and exchanged my NC license for a SC license using a fake SC address. Hey, any country that will accept a SC driver over a NC driver deserves it! Obviously, the French government has never been on the roads in SC.