2009 Big Rock Goal #5 – My Driver’s License

This is the last in a series of 5 posts describing my Big Rock Goals (major milestones) for 2009.  Every year I try to set up some reasonable specific goals that I can devote my time and energy to.  Every year when I finish them, I feel proud and happy that I’ve really managed to accomplish something special.  Here is what I’m going to be working towards this year . . .

Read about my Big Rock Goal #1 – Boxing Cardio Challenge
Read about my Big Rock Goal #2 – New York City
Read about my Big Rock Goal #3 – German Lessons
Read about my Big Rock Goal #4 – NaNoWriMo 2009

Ok, stop laughing and let me briefly explain and give you some background.

My Driving History

In BC, we have a graduated licensing system.  There is a written test for your Learner’s license with a mandatory 1 year waiting period before your first road test.  Road test #1 (half hour) gets you a Novice license, which is a bit less restrictive than a Learner’s.  It has a mandatory 2 year waiting period before your second road test, which can be reduced by 6 months if you take lessons from an approved driving school.  Passing road test #2 (one hour) will get you your full license.

This licensing system came into effect around the time I was eligible to get my license (though there have been a few revisions between then and now, it’s essentially as I’ve explained it above).  My parents didn’t really want my sister and myself getting our license too early though, and you needed a parents signature if you were under age, so I didn’t get it right away, meaning I missed the boat on the non-graduated program.

My sister didn’t/doesn’t want a license at all.  My parents spent about $700 on sending her to a driving school when she was 18 and I was 16.  She didn’t pass her driving test and that’s been the end of her driving journey.

When I turned 18, my parents gave me $700 and let me know I could use it as I wanted to.  Since I was faced with paying my way through college, I decided to use it for things like tuition and books instead of driving lessons.  My mom drove a standard car and saying that she is not a relaxed passenger is putting it mildly.  We tried a few times, it wasn’t going to work.  I tried a few times with my dad, but didn’t see him often enough to really get any lessons going.  Then a few years later he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and couldn’t drive anymore anyway.

So, I got a learner’s license when I was 19 (I think) and then took forever until I went for my first road test in 2004.  I passed (the second time around) and have had my Novice license ever since.

Here’s what’s been stopping me from going ahead and arranging for my full license . . .

  1. I don’t like driving. So I don’t do it much.  My husband and I share a car and I work on a bus route and can frequently carpool.
  2. It’s expensive. The test itself is $50.  If you fail and have to take it again, it’s another $50.  If you pass and get your full license, it costs $75 for your license.  So it’s a minimum expense of $125, if I pass the first time around.
  3. It’s booked well in advance.  Like, a few months ahead usually.  This will give me time to mentally prepare and get practice in, but it also means if I fail the first time I try and have to rebook, it might be months to wait, or taking a day off work to get in a last minute cancellation.  Oh, and if I cancel, they charge $25.
  4. I think I’ll probably fail (at least the first test). Many of the people I know in real life will either assume I’ll do fine, which will put pressure on me to live up to their expectations.  Or, there are a few who will just take it as confirmation that women can’t drive and will basically laugh at me, which will infuriate me.
  5. My license restrictions don’t really restrict me. The restrictions are that you have to have an ‘N’ sign displayed, zero tolerance for alcohol, and can’t have more than 1 non-family passenger under the age of 25.  I’m the youngest of my friends and even when I got my ‘N’ license, most of them were already over 25.  Plus, you can continually renew your Novice license indefinitely.  There’s no requirement to get your full license.  Ever.

Now here’s the list of reasons why I want to get this goal out of the way this year . . .

  1. It’ll be out of the way.  I won’t have to think about it.  It won’t be looming in front of me anymore!
  2. I won’t have to display my ‘N’ sign.  We put ours in the back window and the changes of temperature make the magnetic sign grow brittle over the years, eventually causing it to start breaking apart.  They are free to replace, but the last time I had to replace it I had to spend 20 minutes in line.  And, if I forget and drive without it properly displayed, I can be ticketed.  Plus, then I can borrow a car, or drive a friend home, without worrying about switching the ‘N’ sign from our car to the other one.
  3. I have to pay $75 this year anyway.  The ‘N’ license is valid for 5 years just like a normal license and this year it’s set to renew in September on my birthday.  It costs $75 to renew a normal license and a Novice license.  Since I’m going to have to pay that part of the fee this year anyway, I may as well throw another $50 (or $100) on top and get the full license.
  4. I’ll get to drop the stigma.  There are many who look down their noses at novice drivers.  I will notice cars purposefully steering clear of me because they think I’m a more dangerous driver.  People also discuss it as though it’s some sort of major flaw to not have gone through a second road test already.

So, in January sometime, I’m going to look at the calendar and book my road test for early August (I’ll report back with the date).  I’ll have the advantage of having a date to work towards.  Plus, in summer the roads are clear of snow and usually clear of rain.  Early August will be good because if I do fail, I’ll have a month to try to re-test before the license renews.  I’m going to try to do everything that I can to mentally prepare.  Plus, in summer my husband often rides his bike to work, which means I’ll have more opportunities to practice my driving skills.

In a sense this is my smallest goal.  It is the least unique item on my list.  And yet, in another sense, it is the one that I am most likely to fail at.  It is the one with the biggest obstacles and one that I have relatively little control over.  I might spend hours practicing and still fail.  I’m announcing it publicly because it’s also the one I’m most likely to back out of, and this will hold me accountable.

Do you have any goals like that?  Ones that are small and huge all at the same time?

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