For the record, I have had an Australian driver’s license for the last 19 years! But, since it just expired, I figured it’s time to get a NYC State license. So today was the big day, but first I had a driving instructor give me a quick lesson to be sure I knew just which side of the road you New Yorkers drive on.

My instructor Jason’s car was a bit worrisome as it had quite a few dents and looked like it had seen much better days. However, I pushed forward, put the car in drive, and set forth to my destiny. About a mile into the drive I actually had to ask if he was actually the driving instructor. He laughed and said, “Yes, put your blinker on, check your blind spot and make sure you STOP when it says STOP… by the way you would have already failed your test three times over the last mile.”

If I wasn’t nervous before I definitely was then. And it didn’t help that I was driving around in a car that looked like it was used in an episode of The Wire.

After some solid practice we made it to the test where a DMV employee named Miss Santiago jumped into my vehicle and told me to drive straight. A stop sign came up, I stopped, but only just. Miss Santiago gave me a serious warning about “fully stopping.” I wiped my sweaty brow, persevered, and managed to pull off some excellent driving, if I do say so myself.

Now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I may have resorted to flattery to secure my license. As my final mile approached, I was nervous that I may not have passed and had to come up with an insurance policy. I told her, “Women are much better parallel parkers than men,” which gave here quite the cheeky chuckle. Just as we were pulling into the final street to get home another STOP sign popped up, where I firmly applied the breaks. They weren’t going to get me today!

Finally, Miss Santiago said the sweetest words I’ve ever heard: “Mr. Blanks, you have your driver’s license.” Of course, I asked her if I could kiss her, but she ignored me and quickly got out of the car.

Watch out, New York. There’s a new minivan driver in town.

~ E.J. Judge, Zachary Cole for

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