(pun truly intended!)
In my bucket list is one day experience driving a car and owning one for that matter. Being able to drive is a life skill that opens up too many experiences that is too tempting to resist. But before all the opportunities driving has to offer, there are steps we must do to even become a real driver. Here's our full adventure report:
Step 1: Get a Student Driver's License
Step 2: Enroll for a Driving Class
Before we even apply, we asked around which school we should go. My father insisted that we go to A1 (he studied there) while another office mate who studied earlier recommended us to SMART. I've no idea how we decided that that's the school we should go, but I guess our choice was okay.
My office mate and I decided to enroll for 10 hrs of class (around 5k) and they added us an hour free each. I get to start by Monday (Ai started an hour on that Saturday) in which we go on having turns of 2 hrs each. But before we even start the actual driving, we attended a half day lecture at their office. Driving basics were discussed, most of which I didn't understand that time (can't remember them now unfortunately).
What to expect
You get to drive on the first day. As in. My first day was unlucky though, because the car I was about to use started heating up. The instructor told me we switch places until he gets to pour water on it on the nearest gas station. But instead of it becoming better, it ended up not starting at all. The instructor have done all the skills he have probably learned through years just to get it back to the garage and switch for another car. When we got there it has gotten so over heated they hosed the thing.
Since we have not paid extra, we get to have different cars and instructors each day which needs a lot of getting used to. It may sound awful but it does have it advantages, like learning more with different types of drivers and not getting scared of picking up a car to drive in the future since we are not conditioned to just one type of car.
There's supposed to be another free seminar after the lessons but we forgot taking that. A few weeks later, we went on with applying for a driving license.
Step 3. Driver's License
We went last Friday September 6, 2013 at the LTO East. I heard it's the main LTO branch and we've decided to go there because as instructed by our last driving instructor. We went there before 8 am via taxi. Upon arrival, we've told the guard we're from SMART so he instructed us to head on their booth for assistance. We've filled up the forms given to us (same form as the first time so I've already learned my lesson regarding the incorrect signature box), paid 850 and were formed as one batch. There's probably 5 or 6 of us who were assisted for Medical (which is around 10 minutes worth of walk, I wonder why they don't have one at the compound).
We are very lucky that drug testing is not mandatory anymore (due to DUI) so our medical was fairly quick (100php). Me and my office mate then went back for review. They'd let us choose whether English or in Filipino which also determines what exam we'll get. It took us a long time to get in the exam room because it requires a much bigger batch to complete plus you get unlimited time to take the written exam so it would definitely take time.
I always hate exams and I feel so unprepared even after the review but I realized that my fears are just fears when majority of the exam (multiple choice) is common sense and some signs not on the review are on the wall for us to see. I came out much longer though (I wished I've brought a sign pen for better coverage). There are 40 items and 30 passing. It's unfortunate I didn't know how I fared. I should have checked my paper with SMART earlier :-(
Lies, all Lies
All of our office mates swear that they didn't even take a practical exam and we deed not worry. But lo and behold, we were surprised that we have to!! We came so unprepared, I haven't practiced ever since my last day from driving school. I was hoping to practice prior to our licensing but my father was at work the Sunday prior so it made me so much more worried I forgot how to run a car.
Surprisingly, I didn't forget how to drive (although I made a few mistakes out of panic) but passed anyway. After that, I was told to wait at cashier 13 where my officemate was waiting for me.
They probably make licenses by batch as even if I was scheduled 2nd to the last finish, my card came as soon as the other exam takers who were earlier than me. It took a bit time, but it wasn't as long when we were waiting to be called for exam. We still have time to get to work for a half day yet the area is filled to the brim. Goodluck if you came there late.
My first driving was the Saturday of that week to Tagaytay. I drove right after my father had filled our car with gas, back home and then to Tagaytay City. My parking is still awful so I was dreadfully scared when at Max's I have to park on a steep downhill diagonal parking. Either I scratch one of the cars or I go straight to the restaurant. Can't have that so I parked on the side and let my father did it haha! Driving that long was just too exhausting that after that I had my father drive us to Sky Ranch and at my bus stop.
My next drive wasn't as successful though because I just bumped a parked tricycle. I ended up paying 200 for the damages. My father was a bit traumatized by that I think that's why he drove us back home after a quick stop at Robinson's. I did practice with him at our subdivision for a while which made me more confident on driving through parked cars in a not so wide road.
The first time I held my new shiny license in my hands, I kept on looking at it. I can't believe that I was able to get one and drive a car on my own. It will take a long time for me to be extremely confident in driving a car in 4th gear (I still get scared at that, 3 is my limit haha) and proper parking, but at least I've already learned how to. Now I just need more experience and improve what I learned. See you guys next year on the road!! (wink wink)