Driving: The Scariest Transition (Plus, Why I Flunked My Permit Exam Thrice)

I’ve been very reluctant to learn how to drive since I was 15. I was kind of eager to do so when I was younger, but as I was finishing middle school a couple of my friends, two sisters, got involved in a horrific car accident at the intersection close to my elementary school on Memorial Day. The younger sister, who was nearly 17 at the time, survived the crash but the her older sister, who was set to graduate high school and study pharmacology, perished upon impact despite wearing a seat belt. Meanwhile, my brother and I went to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past in theatres, and we were shocked to hear news of the accident–especially me. Although I wish my friend peace in Heaven and offered my condolences to her family, who are still friends with my family to this very day, that unfortunate event discouraged me from learning to drive all throughout high school.

Now that I’m entering my third year of college, I have to use the remainder of this summer to get behind the wheel and learn how to drive–and do so safely. I took the learner’s permit exam thrice last summer and failed despite how hard I studied for it. Actually, the MAIN reason I flunked the exam three times was because I was going through a breakup with Jack, who’s been driving since the age of 20, and I had a hell of a hard time facing the reality that we were done romantically and that I needed to let him go. Instead of focusing all my energy on passing the permit test with flying colors, I focused on ways I could get Jack back into my life, assuming there was a way for me to do that at all.

After failing my last permit exam, I cried all the way to my grandmother’s house (my brother took me to the DMV close to her) and slept in the guest room for three hours straight, fearing that I’ll end up like SpongeBob for the rest of my life–not being able to drive a car at all. The only difference was that SpongeBob could never pass the actual driving exam (a running gag throughout the series), and I couldn’t pass a fucking road rules knowledge exam without getting at least 10 out of 50 questions wrong! I told my grandmother the whole story (via Google Translate because she speaks Spanish) and she told me that my failure to pass the permit exam is just God’s way of telling me I’m not ready yet, to wait until the next year when I’m 21. That kinda made me feel better.

Today, my stepdad was out of it because he had “a lot of things to do.” He was getting out of bed when he told me this and I say “Okay?” in confusion. My stepdad is always busy with something, but he didn’t have to tell me that upfront because I know how busy he can be. After my workout, however, he talked to me again about his fatigue due to being overwhelmed with a lot of tasks, telling that I have to be organized in life. Then he asked me when I’m gonna take my permit exam again so that he can take me out for practice drives. I told him July 10, but my mother suggested over the phone that I schedule the appointment for July 8 with what I believe was an angry tone of voice. She wasn’t exactly mad at me per se, but my autistic brain interpreted her tone as such.

I scheduled my permit exam for the date my mother requested. The next part is to [gulp] study for it. If everything on the permit test is all common sense about road rules and street signs, why does the DHSMV make some of them so hard? I can think of three possibilities: it may have a lot to do with the umpteen amounts of car accidents involving young drivers and senior drivers that occur annually–Florida is the number one retirement state in the U.S., after all–and the State is creating tougher traffic laws, therefore making the permit tests harder for new drivers; there are certain questions on the exam pertaining to information I may have missed on in the driver’s manual; and the questions are randomized at every attempt. The last two parts are true because although the test covers nearly everything in the driver’s license handbook, the questions they wrote for the test are worded differently than the questions they provided in the handbook. Since I took the exam thrice last August, I know that the questions are randomized every single time, which sucks because since I learned what the correct answers were to the questions I answered wrong, I should be given the same questions in order to pass the exam. But alas, it doesn’t work that way.

I just hope that I pass the learner’s permit exam and finally learn how to drive so that I can have the same freedom to go anywhere I wish just like everyone else not on the autism spectrum. My grandmother did say that God works in mysterious ways, so I pray that He will help me in my endeavor to pass my learner’s permit exam.