I am now a Class F Driver

I had a successful drivers test this morning, the result of which now means that I can drive 12-24 passenger “buses” and—get this—ambulances. Why you ask? No, it’s not a part of a larger quest to hold all Ontario driver licence types, but necessary to be able to drive a twelve passenger mini-bus in the Yukon.

I have a bit of a troubled relationships with driver examinations. I turned sixteen the same year that graduated licencing was being introduced. Neither me nor any of my friends wanted to have to undergo that process in order to be able to drive. So the rush was on to get your G. Not only did I have to learn the rules of the road, but I also had to learn how to drive in a standard car (which was, and this is an understatement, frustrating).

I probably rushed into the G test and on the day of the test was incredibly nervous. There was a lot a stake here: being born in the last third of the year, all my friends had head-starts on my and all had got their licence, I wanted to have mine too; you didn’t want to fail because there was something like a six week waiting list to be retested; and passing your driving test was also a big threshold to cross on your way to becoming an adult (not that I would have listed that as a reason to be worried at the time). Inevitably, my nerves got the better of me and I outright failed my first test by nearly running over a pedestrian while turning left from Macdonell onto Wyndham in downtown Guelph (the light turned yellow, I was in the middle of the intersection and I just kinda freaked). I knew I had messed up right away and that I was a dead man walking, but I think I was still asked to perform a parallel park on Carden Street. I was so concerned about botching the left turn that I effed that up too. A royal mess.

So I failed and had to wait the six weeks. I had to face my buddies (which wasn’t all that bad as I remember). I had to deal with my own disappointment and perceived failure. I got over it. I decided that I needed to do the test in an automatic car so I would have less to worry about. I drove more and got comfortable with not running over pedestrians. I passed my second G test in May of 1994 (which means that I’ve been driving for thirteen years), the same day as a solar eclipse.

So, when I found out I would need to get an F class licence to lead this trip in June, a part of me had a little regressive moment and travelled back to the experience of getting my G. I’ll spare you all the sordid details, but getting this licence has been a process of doctors visits, van rentals and backing up, over and over again, into parking spots in the Yorkdale mall parking lot (a special thanks to Heather for helping me out with the backing-up part—she was my spotter).

Today was a bit stressful (especially when the examiner told me, when I was half-way through my pre-trip inspection to “speed it up” because the test is only half-an-hour—uh, O.K.), but I was successful. And with that, a major check-box has a tick in it, I’m feeling better about driving tests and I still think that all driver examiners (and lifesaving society examiners, come to think of it) think that they’re hot shit; that they’ve suffered some unspeakable suffering; the world owes them; and they’re about to extract some of their karmic debt out of you.*

* – Like when I handed the examiner a copy of my daily vehicle check [that I had been told by another examiner to complete before-hand and have ready] and my examiner looked at me as if I had shit on my face and I had just told him that his mother wore army boots. After which he told me he “didn’t care” and that I “still needed to do an inspection.” I wanted to say “No shit, really?” or “But some dude told be earlier to have this ready for you.” but I just smiled and carried on.

When he first approached me, I tried to introduce myself and shake his hand, but he would have none of it. It was like touching would somehow taint his evaluative abilities. I should have know better, though. He was wearing those sport-shield sunglasses (something like these mamba-jambas) that I’ve come to believe are something like a social indicator species that means that you’re a difficult person to deal with.

13 Comments

  1. Sammy

    Hey, just curious where you rented the van. I need to do the same driving test but I’m stumped as to where to rent the necessary sized vehicle.

    Thanks!

      • Sammy

        Just noticed your reply now. I inquired in the Ottawa area and no rental agencies seemed to have one on their fleet. But I just found someone that owns one because they are foster parents and often have lots of people in their family.

        I plan to borrow theirs. Any tips you might be able to give me for the road test?

        Thanks :)

        • Sammy

          Sorry beyond what you’ve already mentioned in your post. I promise I did read it :). Just any extra tips would be helpful as I’m not planning on taking a driving course.

        • I remember practicing backing up into a parking space a lot as well as that daily inspection. Try googling “Professional driver’s manual vehicle pre-trip inspection” for a few PDFs from Manitoba & Saskatchewan that help with what to look for / do in a pre-trip inspection.

  2. I went for my F licence on Dec 28th /16 I didn’t pass for a couple of reasons.I did my test at the First Gulf examination center in Brampton.A couple of dos:
    -make sure to mention a first aid kit,fire extinguisher and reflective triangle are kept in the back even if you name a zillion other things
    -stay in the right lane at all times
    – make sure you get out and look at the back of the van before backing into the parking spot
    -go 50km and watchout with American made buses that are in mph in large digits or you’ll go wrong speed like me
    -stop for the surprise railroad X after a fast winding around Orenda Rd
    Don’t:
    -don’t look over your shoulder when changing lanes.look in mirrors only!
    -let all cars go by first when waiting in the merge lane then go after them

    • As I recall it didn’t, but I’m pretty sure that I just said something to the effect of “I’m checking for a fire extinguisher; because this is a rental there isn’t one here but if I was transporting passengers, I would ensure that I had one.” YMMV.

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