Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's been a long, long strada
After nine long months I (F) have passed my exam for the Patente di Guida!!! Being Italy, the final step took all day, and, technically speaking, is not quite finished.

After scoring the English driver's manual from our friend Mirko--which finally got me through the theory test--I followed him to Autoscuola Rossini. My fellow test takers were really nervous. Between exhales of thick cigarette smoke, they were chattering away in Lucchese in that way that I find almost indecipherable. Finally Giuseppe from the school arrived in the driving school car and made several announcements to our group that made everyone smile and nod, so I smiled and nodded. I did gather that we had lucked out to some degree as our esaminatore was brava and therefore not the examiner who allegedly who takes you around blind corners where you are bound to forget to turn your head to look and instantly fail, nor the one who fails you if you don't adjust all three mirrors before starting off.

So then three of us pile in the Panda for a little last minute "polishing" which  means practicing how to successfully yield at roundabouts, signaling when you enter and leave--which no actual Italian ever does. Then back to the school to swap out for the next three students.

Finally after two hours of waiting, the esaminatore arrived. She started out by testing a guy on a motorcycle, first with cones in the parking lot and then wired to a walkie-talkie out in the world. He passes. Everyone's happy. The first actual driver goes and gets in the test car and starts visibly sweating. After she drives off, two of my fellow students finally start talking to me and they quiz me fairly relentlessly about life in New York and reel off a whole load of frustrations that they are having in finding jobs, particularly jobs that would pay enough to make it worthwhile to move out of their parents' houses. We have a great conversation that goes on, and on, and on, because the first lady never comes back. After forty minutes, she finally drives up in front and looks as though she has run a marathon. She's pale and panting and sweating, but signs something before she gets out of the car. She's passed too! But she has to sit awhile in the Autoscuola to gather herself because she apparently didn't manage to parallel park successfully in twenty or so attempts. When she leaves, her fellow students share, sotto voce, that she really is a disastrously bad driver.

The next two exams go much more quickly and both kids pass and then I take my place and after all the anxiety and the work and the worry, the esaminatore says well I guess you've been driving for some time now so this will really just be proforma. Four minutes, three roundabouts later, we're back at the Autoscuola and I'm ready to sign my brand new patente, but no... It turns out that the pictures I gave them NINE MONTHS AGO are too big and when they tried to print the license it was just eyebrows to lips, but if I bring them a new smaller photo they will make it for me tomorrow. So I bike home, print new photos, bike back to the school in time to hand off the photos directly to the examiner. So, theoretically, I will actually have a patente. . . domani...

1 comment:

Laurence said...

Congratulations on successfully wending your way through the labyrinthine bowels of the bureaucracy!