She failed once, she failed twice, but third time’s a happy charm.
Special to ALT.SPEC
The Hamilton Spectator
Monday, February 20, 2001

(Spec editorial assistant Sarah Millar, with the help of driving instructor Desmond Miklòs, passed her driver’s road test – and immediately burst into happy tears.
Photo by Sheryl Sandler.)

I warned everyone at work before I left Thursday morning. If I said something, I passed. If I was quiet, don’t ask.

In case you don’t recall what I am talking about, I’ll bring you up to speed. About six months ago I failed my driving test. Three months ago I failed it again.

After that, a driving instructor, Desmond Miklòs, offered to teach me to drive for free.

February 16th was my driving-test day.

That was fine since I wasn’t supposed to go back to work until Monday. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I was to return after my test to have a so-long coffee with Carmen, our intern from Ryerson. All I could think was I have to pass this test if I was to see everyone right after it.

I had been thinking positively all week. Not one negative thought had come into my mind, and when one did, I quickly shooed it away. I tried not to think about the test earlier in the week, but I tend to get a little obsessive over stupid little things, so I had been thinking about it since last Friday.

Last week went by really fast. I had taken Friday off work so Thursday was my last day until a three-day weekend (hopefully with a car). At work on Thursday my co-workers wished me good luck, which included reminders that pressing the gas pedal does not make the car stop, and suggestions that I should wear a helmet.

Thanks for the support, guys.

So it was one last lesson with Desmond on Friday at 1:30 p.m.. An hour and a half until D-Day (Driving Day). Desmond tried to relax me in his usual way by cracking jokes and telling me about his life and radio show. I was relaxed. I was ready.

So I thought.

We got to the Burlington driving centre (the dreaded spot of my first failure), got out of the car and made our way inside. My legs froze. I couldn’t breathe. The guy at the counter was worried I was going to throw up. I hadn’t had a thing to eat all day (I usually don’t when I take my driving tests). We filled out the forms, forked over the $40.00 and were told someone would be with us in a second.

Outside, Desmond prepped me again. Remember to do this, don’t do that. I hardly heard him. I wasn’t going to pass. Suddenly this guy came out of the driving centre. He was kind of cute. I thought, “Don’t I wish I could get him for my test as my examiner.” He started to circle Desmond’s car. He was here for me!

The test was off to a great start.

So we left. I drove the same route I did the first time I did my test. Did the three-point turn and the parallel park without hitting anything. I felt good.

We got back to the station, and I turned off my car waiting for him to say something. He was silent as he continued to mark up my sheet.

I wanted to urge him to speak, but knew against it. It was his job to make me suffer in silence.

He looked at me. “Well,” he started in such a way that I could hear the dot dot dot after it.

Darn, I failed.

“You passed,” he finally finished.

And then I screamed. I screamed so loud I was sure the whole world could hear me. Then I burst into tears.

“You OK?” the guy asked me. I nodded, tears streaming down my face. “Good, ’cause you scared me.”

I laughed through my tears and he reminded me there were things I had to improve on, but at that moment I didn’t care.

I ran into the driving centre, tears streaming down my face. Desmond and the people at the counter just looked at me. I realized it looked as though I had failed, so I jumped up and down screaming, I passed.

So I finally did it. Three times, but I did it. And I urge anyone who fails their test to understand, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve got to keep trying. I know at 17, failing your driving test is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, but honestly, it’s not.

Think about the bigger problems, like the earthquakes in India and El Salvador and you’ll realize not getting your license is really nothing.

I know it hurts, and I know it’s scary to try the test again, but you have to. One failure is not the end of the world.

Dust yourself off, and try again. And again and again if need be. You’ll get it someday.

Hey, I did.

Related article by Sarah Millar: Failing driver’s test has its perks – Tuesday, January 9, 2001