Well my Finders, it’s a rare moment indeed. Neil wants to say something and I’m letting him (that’s the rare part). Here’s today’s guest post from none other than Rusty the Wonderhusband.
Bureaucrazy at its finest indeed. Phase 1 of the quest for permission to drive on French soil is complete (perhaps that should be Phase 1b—1a being the five month process of applying for exchange under the reciprocity agreement with Canada only to be denied). The b-phase has only been half that time, most of which was spent fighting the decision from the a-phase.
But now, after about 4 weeks of intense study of the code-a-pedia—virage à gauche, passage à niveau sans barrier…avec barrier, giratoire, rond-point, ligne continue, discontinue, interdit, devoir, pouvoir, obligatoire, clignotant, and the all-important prioritaire à droite—on Monday I, along with 7 others in my class, endured the dreaded French driving theory exam.
Of course the night before I woke up in a panic at 3 a.m. and tossed and turned (without crossing the solid line or forgetting to use my blinker) until morning. Thankfully, I didn’t spontaneously vomit on the way to the exam as I sometimes found myself doing walking up Rue Sherbrooke to the McGill gymnasium. I was nervous though. Not because if I didn’t pass I’d have to wait another month to try again, par contre because I couldn’t imagine knowing the rules any better than at that moment, and if I didn’t pass now, I’d might as well give up.
Having arrived early, I was reminded why I always showed up at the McGill gym at least 5 minutes after the exam had already started—to avoid the inevitable pre-exam chatter back and forth about this rule and that rule and the fact that you lose 2 points for not wearing a seat belt (when I knew that the correct answer was in fact 3 points) and so on. I found myself wishing I couldn’t understand French so I wouldn’t have to listen to it… realizing in the same moment of course that would be a serious compromise when sitting for the exam about to be delivered in French.
So I sweated through the 40 questions, knowing by question 25 that I only had one possibly wrong answer and I was feeling pretty confident. But also knowing that with so many lobbed right over the plate, I likely had a bunch of curve balls and probably a couple of spit balls to look forward to in the next 15. But they didn’t come. A couple of dodgy ones but no where near what I had been set up to expect with the practice exams.
At the end I knew I had enough right to be close… thinking I had guessed well on enough on a few others to put me over… and closing my eyes and selecting randomly the answers only to a couple, I knew that was it. It wasn’t going to get any more straight forward than that so if I bombed this one, well, “Honey, wanna move to Switzerland?”
One by one we were called by name to return to the examiner’s table to place our remote control answer doo-hickey on the machine and wait for our receipt. There were two possible results—FAV as in favourable, and DEF as in you suck.
I, as it turns out, do not suck. Par contre, I am absolutely FAV. It seems I am just as smart as a small percentage of French teenagers. Considering the circumstances, I guess that’s something to be proud of.
Next step, Phase 2—The Practical. Which of course requires another long wait—until the end of May—before I can take a shot at that. Which, if I fail, I won’t be able to try again until September because June is booked, July is reserved for poids lourds (truck drivers) and in August everyone in France is on vacation. Mon dieu. Hopefully by the time one year has passed from our original application, I’ll be able to drive again (legally, I mean).
Oh well, at least now I know why everyone coming from any dinky nondescript side road on my right honks at me when I don’t give them the right of passage—sauf signalisation au contraire, il faut toujours cèder le passage à droite (basically yield to anything on the right). No wonder the accident rate in France is the highest in the western world.
Felicitations mon amour. This proves one thing: I’m a genius for marrying you.