It’s a boy!

Wrong congrats card there, it’s actually a pass!

It was horrible as usual, an hour of pure stress and nerves. I drove up to Liverpool and I wasn’t too bad, I thought. I had yet another instructor taking me up there, a woman this time. She was OK, but she set the cones too close together when I asked to practise my reverse, so it was really hard and I made a balls-up of my first attempt. Not the way to inspire confidence. On the other hand, she did inspire confidence in another way. Instead of being there watching every move you make straight off the bat she said " the keys are in the truck, you take it round and reverse it into place, I’ll set up the cones."

I was waiting for her to come out and keep her eye on me but she didn’t so I drove off on my own. So that was good, first time in the truck for over a month and I was setting off on my own.

I drove it too Liverpool, and was OK, but by no means wonderful. Then I got there and found out it was Donna who was going to be my examiner. It was she who failed me the first time, with a record number of faults marked. She is supposed to be the easiest person to pass with though (Don’t tell her I said so) and although I made a few mistakes I didn’t clip any pavements, run over any pedestrians, or crash the truck. So by the end of that seemingly interminable hour I still wasn’t sure which way it had gone.

I was even more nervous because although she did take me on some narrow roads, and make me take the truck around some hideously sharp corners (where if you don’t watch out you swing the front end out nice and wide, start to straighten up, then the pavement juts out a bit and you clip it and fail) and presumably I did all the requisite exercises, but I felt everyone else took me on worse routes. I was thinking that if I hadn’t passed with Donna, on such a relatively easy course, maybe I really wasn’t going to pass, ever.

Then she said I’d passed!

She went on to tell me it was by the skin of my teeth (15 minor driver errors, 16 is a fail) but by that time I was beaming. She asked if I’d done any training since my last test, I said I hadn’t. She told me she would never take a test without practising first (fine if you have infinite cash) but that she was willing to look beyond how I’d done to how I would be in practise. She had felt safe and that the truck was under control the whole time, so I would be safe to drive and polish my technique on the road.

Although Donna is supposed to be the easiest one to pass with, I still think that a pass is a pass. The point of the test is to judge whether a person can drive a truck. Not whether given a few years of crashing into things that person would become competent.

I’m not trying to play down the (15) little mistakes I made (such as being focused on braking down and getting into the right gear for a stop at red lights, and as I’m changing down they’ve changed to green, so I was having to almost stop then start again, instead of flowing forward) but I don’t want to detract from my achievement either.

Anyone who has had to sit through a driving test knows it is about as stressful as  is humanly possible. An hour. One single lapse of concentration over a whole hour is all it takes. One mistake deemed serious and it’s game over.

That was my fourth hour of torture.

I passed, me!

So now I have to wait for the DVLA to return my license (with it’s shiny new entitlement to drive rigid trucks, a provisional license to train in artic trucks, and hopefully that  11 year old drink/drive endorsement removed) then I can decide what to do.

A  young chap at work was saying he, his brother, and lots of people he knows all went to the same guy for instruction and all passed with relative ease. I believe that would be possible. If I’d have had one of the two really good instructors I’ve been trained by the whole time I think I would have passed earlier. As it was I had every Tom, Dick and Harry that drifted through the company. To have one, good instructor take you the whole way sounds like the best bet.

I’ll inquire. My only reservation would be where he tests. I’ve had four tests at Symondswood, Liverpool, and have got to know the roads and nasty traps around there. A different test centre might disadvantage me.

So, in work tomorrow, find out how many holidays I have left, await the return of my license, and plan my next move. The main thing is I now have a truck license! No more training or tests for rigid trucks. That is under my belt.

Donna also said I would be best to take an advanced driving course (in the Micra) the skills acquired from which would be instantly transferable to truck driving. This sounds like sterling advice. A lot cheaper than truck training lessons, should polish off all the little faults I was picked up on and prepare me for the final big push; the artic.

I don’t know if I’m  happy to have the license or just relieved I don’t have to do it again!

Happy days.