Not a DNA test for paternity....come on, people, get your heads out of the gutter. A totally different kind of test examiner. This one looked suspiciously like a police officer and had a very stern look on his face. Here's how it went:
I left my house at the mind-bending hour of 7:30 AM with the hopes of getting my permanent motorcycle certification on my license. Since Montgomery county only does motorcycle road tests on Wednesdays, I was one of many hopefuls making my way to the Huber Heights Drivers Licencing Exam station today. Although my appointment said 8:00 AM, I found out while signing in that it was nothing more than an estimate - there were already eight guys ahead of me on the sign-in sheet. I handed over my temps to the officer behind the counter and got an ominous looking test paper in return. She then directed me to go out to the parking lot about 500 yards to the side of the building where I met the eight individuals ahead of me.
Let me describe the scene. Eight bikes are lined up on the black stretch of old, cracked asphalt. All the men are loosely gathered around a very nice bike - a black and chrome Harley of truly unusual beauty. I pull up on my bright yellow Honda Helix scooter, thoroughly intimidated by the scene, the test, and the group of guys. No one is actually sitting on their bike - but I don't have too much trouble mentally matching up men to metal. Two younger guys in Abercrombie wear are hanging back a bit, I pair them with the two new Ninjas to the left. Big, traditional, mustachioed biker looking guy and two others with the same stance I match to the three Harleys prominently parked in the middle of the starting line. A medium build plaid shirted man looks at me and smiles and I place him with the friendly looking older Honda on the right. Practically perched on the Harley everyone is admiring is a very tall black guy in a matching helmet, and I notice his plates read "BYUTY". Takes me a minute, but I finally get it. Lastly is a smoker off to the side, a true chopper next to him. It's a gorgeous late summer day, morning sun making long shadows of the group, blue skies overhead with the barest hint of fall in the air.
When I pull up, all heads turn toward me. One of the big mustached guys walks over, smiling.
"You are gonna do great on that thing," he says confidently.
Another walks over, eyeing the Helix.
"You could charge all of us to take our test on that - you'd make a killing by noon!"
They are all friendly and curious about the scooter. Slowly, we all migrate back to the starting line and once everyone knows this is my first attempt at the test, heads start shaking. Plaid shirt explains the test to me as others listen and chime in occasioanlly.
"You see all those lines on the road, there?" I nod. "Well, when he comes out, you have to weave around the dots, then get up to 20 miles per hour and stop dead center in that box. See that one?" I nod again. "Then he'll make you do a u-turn..."
"Hey, how many cc's is that thing?" Very Tall Black BYUTY asks me.
"Two fifty," I answer, and a couple heads shake sympathetically.
"That means you gotta u-turn in the small box," Abercrombie One says.
"The small one?"
"Yeah, the dotted lines inside the bigger box on the far end."
We talk a bit more, waiting on Mr. Test Examiner, and I learn that all but one of my new comrades have taken this test before and failed. The only one who hasn't is Abercrombie Two - it's his first time taking the test, but he' ridden dirt bikes since he was eight years old. He's confident.
Mr. Test Examiner arrives, and we all gravitate back to our rides, encouraging comments exchanged in the process.
Abercrombie One is first, and eliminated immediately due to a malfunctioning right rear turn signal. He didn't even get to the road test.
Abercrmobie Two misses one of the cones and is just a tiny bit too far on the first box, but he makes it, holding his test score high in the air in triumph as he rides back to the station for his license.
The first Harley guy - who has taken the test three times already and failed - manages to finish with a passing score despite putting his foot down once.
Very Tall Black BYUTY fails for putting his foot down twice and not making the left turn sharp enough. I feel for him, his head visibly hanging as he rides off.
Plaid shirt guy makes it - no mistakes I could see. It was his third attempt.
Friendly Harley dude actually loses it and drops his bike when he goes too slowly around the last cone. Immediately disqualified.
Smoker Chopper Guy misses three of the five cones - 15 points and he's out. He rides over and gives me a bit of advice about the weaving, says he's going to get a different bike to take the test on next time.
Last Harley guy nods at me and goes up for his test. Foot down twice and misses a cone - he's also sent away without a passing grade, but yells "You can do it!" to me as he rides off.
I miss a cone and put my foot down, but that's only 10 points. I can still get my license with that if I can just make the u-turn. I concentrate, lean, increase my speed just a tiny bit to gain a little more control, and finally roll about five inches outside the dotted lines.
Mr. Test Examiner is almost apologetic as he tells me I've hit the eleven points that means my game is over. He looks at my Helix, and comments that my wheel base is pretty much the same as a full motorcycle. He suggests I either take the test again on a different scooter ("a smaller one," he says laughingly, knowing I was the smallest bike there this morning) or take the Motorcycle Ohio course. If I pass that course, apparently, I don't have to take the road test - I go straight to getting my license.
Dejected, but not surprised, I ride back over to the station. I hand over my failing test paper for the return of my learner's permit, and the woman behind the counter says not to worry - I'll get it next time. Her phrase seems rehearsed, but I appreciate the sentiment just the same.
Plaid Shirt and BYUTY are outside waiting for me.
"Not this time," I say, my disappointment visible.
"Don't worry - you'll get it next time," says Plaid Shirt.
"That left turn is a bitch, though, right?" BYUTY says to me.
"A true bitch," I agree.
"I'm gonna practice here tonight and this weekend - maybe I'll see you?"
"I think I'm going to take the course, " I say, testing this idea out on the posse.
"Yeah," BYUTY says, eyeing my bike, "your wheel base is massive. You should change that bike out or take the course. Twenty-five bucks, though." Plaid shirt says nothing, but I can see that taking the course is considered an even greater failure than failing the exam multiple times.
"I dunno," I say, "maybe I will you see you here. I think I just need some more practice."
"Damn right. That's all you need." They both agree and we exchange more pleasantltries before we ride off in different directions.
9 tests. 3 successes. Endless encouragement.
I have to go practice now.