We interrupt this blog for the following special announcement:
I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST!
I AM GETTING MY ISRAELI DRIVER'S LICENSE!
IT HAS BEEN WEIGHING ON ME ONLY FOR 2 1/2 YEARS, EVER SINCE MY ALIYAH!
I CAN RENT A CAR WHENEVER I NEED ONE!
Ok, details: You all may recall that a few months ago I took the test for the first time, and failed. I am a very very experienced driver -- remember, I drove NCSYers around in an RV for 11 days, for heaven's sake -- but I was extremely nervous and made a very stupid error during the test. Darn.
After that, I put off taking more lessons and doing the test again for a while, because I just did not want to deal with it. It was an especially dark raincloud over my head, because if I failed the second time, I'd be ineligible for the "switching from an American to an Israeli license" procedure and would have to go take the theory test and 30 lessons. Failing the test a second time would be a very expensive and time-consuming inconvenience.So I had to pass this time. It was a lot of pressure.
To reduce the pressure, I took five more driving lessons. My teacher kept saying "you're ready. You're fine. Just take the test," but I said "I am not taking the test until I'm perfectly relaxed." During the fifth lesson, I noticed that I was driving with one hand and leaning back in my seat. Good sign. I was also making comments like "I own Talpiot. This is my Talpiot" (Talpiot being the neighborhood in which the tests are conducted, and also the neighborhood with the worst traffic in the city.) So, I was ready, and I took the test yesterday.
During the test, I was so relaxed, it was like I'd taken a drug. Everyone should be that relaxed when they take a driving test! I own Talpiot!
By the way, here's a little interesting trivia about driving tests in Talpiot. As you may know, Talpiot is right next to what used to be the Jordanian border, but is now the "Green Line" between East and West Jerusalem. So, until 1967, there was not much goin' on in Talpiot. It was pretty empty, being that close to the border and all. So the Driving License Authority, or however you'd translate "Misrad HaRishui," put their HQ there so that the student drivers would be out of everyone else's way. People could take lessons and do their tests on relatively empty roads.
But after 1967, the neighborhood got built up. It is now an incredibly busy industrial area with lots of malls, shopping centers, offices, restaurants, etc etc. The traffic is awful. I'd put it in the same category as driving in mid-town Manhattan, no kidding. And God forbid that the Misrad Harishui should move.
So, basically, there's now an "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" attitude toward getting one's driver's license in Jerusalem. The lessons are nerve-wracking and the test is harder to pass, but having a J-lem license is a badge of driving honor. We are the Golani brigade of drivers. We are the creme de la creme. We own Talpiot and therefore we own Israel. We are the New Yorkers of the Israeli driving scene.
Look out highway 6! Here comes Chayyei Sarah!