State law requires all new Californians to apply for a CA driver’s license within ten days of establishing residency. After tooling around Palm Springs for three years with a bogus Montana license that was about to expire, I girded my loins, threw back a Coke Zero, and made an appointment with the local DMV. Why the play for time? Like any red-blooded American, I lived in mortal fear of the written exam.
Sure, I know. Fifteen-year-olds take, and even pass, such exams every day. But fifteen-year-olds have more brain cells than I do… and, given my not inconsiderable investment in so-called higher education, a lot less face to lose.
The so-called “knowledge test” consists of thirty-six multiple-choice questions, of which you’re allowed to muff a maximum of six. It’s based entirely, or so they claim, on information contained in the California Driver Handbook, a hundred-page exercise in torture that reads like a cross between Finnegan’s Wake and the Talmud.
Becoming one with this volume, I spent hours drilling myself on obscure signs and road paint configurations, arcane ordinances, and arbitrary rules of the road that, if one believes the rumors, were contributed by Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, and Honey Boo Boo.
After a week or so of this, having marked up the handbook with every which color Sharpie and leaving it thoroughly soaked with sweat, I set it aside and spent half a day taking at least a dozen mock exams online.
Okay, maybe it was two dozen…
And then that afternoon I passed it. The real one. On the first try.
After suffering through the grading of the test by an underpaid bureaucrat whose face betrayed only boredom, I was relieved of my Montana license and issued a temporary California replacement. Just like that. The weight of the world rose from my shoulders as if tethered to the Goodyear Blimp, not because I was delivered from the prospect of doing jail time for being in violation of CA Vehicle Code 25000(a), but because I could finally see the dread crucible of terror in my rearview mirror.
And it was true. Every item on the exam had come from the book. The question below, which is more or less representative of the lot, had to be my favorite. I invite you to test your driving knowledge. Once you’ve answered, make sure to hit the vote button.
© 2016 Ron Dulaney