Words: Giana Han
Ellicott City, MD – It’s 8:00 on a Saturday morning and I’m standing outside the Motor Vehicle Association office in Glen Burnie, but I can hardly feel the wind because of all the nervous energy thrumming through my body.
I turned 15 and 9 months nine days ago. Now I’m waiting to get my driver’s permit. My dad is standing beside me with a folder containing the many documents that are needed, and I’m holding a photo ID.
The line inches forward, and an eternity passes before I get inside the building. Finally, I reach the front of the line and step up to the desk.
The workers flip through my documents and hand me a ticket. I sit down for another wait. While sitting there, I take the practice test on my phone for the fifteenth time. I can see that most of the teens are using a smart phone to take the practice test over and over and over.
My number’s called, and I walk to the indicated desk. The employee peruses my documents more closely, records my information, and takes my picture. My leg is bouncing in nervousness. I’m ready to get the test over with. However, this desk doesn’t mark the end. I have to leave the building to go take the test before I receive my permit.
I walk in, and my nervousness increases. There are two rather strict elderly ladies watching over the drivers’ applicants. They bark out instructions at random intervals. My dad isn’t allowed to wait with me, so, after another inspection of my papers, I go into the room to sit down, alone.
The wait is long, the room is hot, and the silence is stifling. As people finish their tests, they report whether they passed or not. With each muttered “fail,” I feel my anxiety heighten. Finally, my name is called.
I’m relieved that the test is similar to the practice test. After I tell my dad the results, we re- enter the building for yet another wait. This one isn’t bad because I’m excited and relieved.
My name’s called, and I go to another desk. The employee congratulates me and creates my card. He hands it to me; I pause to admire it. My dad and I leave to go display it to my family. I’m happy that I passed, and a bit surprised at how easy the test was.
Looking back, that terrible experience was actually amusing. I know that I will be regaling my family with some stories. However, everyone has a different experience with this process. There are different versions of the test and different places that you can go to. Some tests may be harder than others.
“The test wasn’t as hard as I thought, although it was stressful since I got the first three wrong, so I had to get the rest right,” said Anna Cosentino, “There was a really long waiting process.” When preparing for the test, Anna skimmed her brother’s driving manual. She had already taken Driver’s Ed, and passed the test the second time, proving that it’s okay not to pass the first time. The lowest passing grade is 22 out of 25.
“When I went the first time, I forgot my papers and had to go back again,” said John Kolp, “It was a fun time.” When discussing the process of getting a permit with others, I heard many stories about the pains of forgetting papers.
The long waiting process seems to be a common theme. “I went to Glen Burnie at opening time, but there was still a long line,” said Kimmy Eads. She had a similar experience to mine, having been at the same place at almost the same time. The test was easy and was mostly common sense for her. Kimmy advises people to study the manual and take the online test. She says that, “You feel really happy afterward. And driving is really fun.”
For some, obtaining a permit is easy. There are those, though, who go in thinking that it will be easy, but find that they should have prepared more. Many agree that studying the manual is a wise idea. It’s important to have your papers and be prepared for the experience, but it’s worth it in the end.