Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning to Drive

The process of transfering over to an Israeli driver's license has many steps. As we had no intention of getting a car right away and my Ontario license is good for a year, it was easy to push it down on the priority list. The first step I took care of right away. At the eye glass store in Jerusalem I had my picture taken, received the main document and had my eye test. With the clock on my Ontario license starting to count down it was time to get things moving. I went to the doctor, who I had never met before. He confirmed I have been in perfect health over the last 3 years. Then I contacted the driving instructor. Before I could take my first lesson, I had to go to the driving license office in Bet Shemesh and have them sign my documentation.

Once all of this was taken care of, I gave the documentation to my driving instructor. It was his job to book the driving test. I found out earlier in the week that my test would be on Sunday and I had to find time to squeeze in the two lessons. This morning was my first lesson. The second lesson will take place around the test area before the test.

The instructor called me an hour before my lesson and asked if I could be picked up immediatly. I quickly grabbed everything I needed, or at least I thought I did. What I thought was the photocopy of my driver's license was last night's shopping list. It is not a problem and will be fixed on Sunday.

I was picked up towards someone else's lesson. An older Haredi guy was having a lesson. On the Hasah, I generally try to not look out the window at traffic. This was even more nerve racking. At least I knew the instructor is in full control and I hope that it was just a learning curve early on his lessons. I have always found driving to be more intuitive than a lot of people. His lesson ended when he was dropped off on the 10.

It was my turn. I was a little bit nervous and heavy on the gas at the beginning. It was a strange feeling considering how comfortable I was driving last week in much more difficult situations. The instructor was really good and a lot of the advice was based on falling back on what I already knew from Young Drivers. At one point, he wondered why I was looking behind me when changing lanes. Apparently the blind spot check I am only supposed to be turning to the side and using the mirrors for the rest. He said his South African students tend to do the same thing. I also learned the rules about handling traffic circles inluding when to properly use turn signals. He said that the test is hard to fail. They are really strict on new drivers but easy going on people who can drive as long as they keep about 4 things in mind.

I was dropped off at the Post Office to pay for the test . The instructor didn't have the form I needed. The post office refused to handle the payment without the form. After speaking to the instructor I got back in line and tried dealing with the other clerk. She also refused to help. To add the confusion I was trying to figure out what to do about the fact that I had mistakenly paid for the written test and was trying to figure out how to get the money back. At that point a woman behind me got involved because she thought it was a language issue. They told me to go to the driving license place (which was closed) get the document and come back to the post office. Keep in mind this must be done before I can write the exam. I walked out very disappointed and not knowing what to do.

Before I could even collect my thoughts the woman came out of the post office to tell me to go back inside. She offered the advice that "sometimes you need to cry a little bit," I finished paying when my instructor walked in. The woman let's out a "Hey that's your driving instructor." Apparently they knew him at the post office and explained some sort of rule change that was causing some of my problems. He confirmed all of the documentation I received was correct. Hopefully everything will go well on Sunday and I will have my Israeli driver's license.