This driving stuff has been nice since I have been home. I hadn't driven a car in The Basque Country the entire time I lived there, so after having visited the US the last time, it had been over 3 years since I sat in the driver's side of the car. Now I'm back at it like a champ thanks to Grammy loaning us her car while we look for our own - the Buick.
The only catch though, is that now that I am an Oregon resident, I am required to get an Oregon license to drive here. I think it is something like after 30 days of being a resident you must have the license of this state. And although I have technically only been an Oregon resident since move-in day, October 1st, I figured I'd get it out of the way early.
Being licensed in Arizona, it was quite easy for me to get an Oregon license. I didn't need to worry about the whole practical exam where you take our your car for a spin with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and show him how bad you parellel park or anything. However, I did need to pass the written part of the exam - something I haven't studied for since I got my license when I was 16. That is where it was a bit tricky.
So on this lovely morning, I headed down to the DMV about 10 minutes from my house, expecting massive lines. In every DMV I have ever been in, the wait time is something ridiculous like an hour minimum. Here though, my number was called in about 5-10 minutes which allowed me a few minutes to leaf through the Oregon State Driver's Manual. Check out the link for some entertaining reading. It's about 100 pages and a lot of common sense, so my strategy, if you could call it that, was to just take the test and see if I passed or not and if I didn't pass atleast I would know what I needed to study, because I wasn't in the mood to read a 100-page manual.
In the time I paged through it, I learned that expert drivers scan the driving scene 12 seconds ahead. Didn't know that. Also found out that the yellow lights that I have always known and loved are not called yellow, but in fact they are deemed amber.
With this little knowledge, my number was called and I was ushered off to the testing area, where it was all done on a touch-screen computer. In a test of 35 questions, I had to answer atleast 80% correct, meaning I could only get seven wrong. Eight meant fail and I'd have to pay the $5 fee again and come back tomorrow to press my luck and maybe even study some. The questions were all multiple choice with four options and I was banking on the fact that I was a good driver but when the first few questions were toughies and by question 12 I was already not doing so hot.
Here were the ones I 1) didn't know or 2) didn't remember from my driver's education class when I was 15. Did you know that a blind person (well, a person carrying a white cane) has the right of way at an intersection even if you have a green light?! I thought the driver did, so got that one wrong. Thinking back, I guess it does make sense. Another miss was the most likely way to injure a motorcylist while driving a car. I didn't know and guessed that following too closely would be the money maker, but turns out it is turning left in front of them. I also didn't know that if you are being tailed by someone who obviously wants to pass you and you're going the speed limit that instead of mainting your correct speed that you should slow down even more (which I bet would make the driver behind you even more annoyed) and encourage him to pass. How do you encourage someone in another car to pass? These were 3 wrongs I got right off the bat.
Then it seemed to turn easy. One question showed this sign and said what does this mean. Ummmm, I think even if you never studied you would know that is a no U-turn sign. Easy question. There were a few more like that - what should you do at a yellow light? Speed through it? Slam on your brakes? Stop if you can otherwise continue. Obviously!
Anyways, I had 7 wrong anwers (chalk it up to not studying for 10 years) and still had 10 questions left, none of which I could get wrong! I passed through and happily returned to the desk where they checked my eye sight and then took my beautiful photo, my check for $60 and then handed me a temporary paper license. The whole thing took about an hour, which is what I was expecting just to wait for my number to be called. All in all, my new license picture with bangs officially makes me an Oregonian!