Friday, February 19, 2010

Mr. Green

I can see why Harley Davidson riders pledge allegiance to the maxim “Live to Ride”. I got the same feeling after I began taking day trips around North-West England and Wales. It didn't take long for me to perfect my touring routine. I bought a khaki shoulder bag in which I would carry my cheese and tomato butties along with an apple or two, and a flask of piping hot coffee. I was glued to my Francis Barnett motorcycle day and night, rain or shine. My next challenge was to off-load those embarrassing learner plates - so I booked an appointment to take my full driver's test. I asked my friends whether or not I could pass it. They all assured me that I was ready and that I would pass it with flying colours – as long as I didn't get Mr. Green.

Mr. Green had the reputation of being the strictest, most unforgiving driver examiner on the Department of Motor Vehicle's payroll and a real stickler for details. His name struck terror in new riders because he failed most on their first attempt. But, I found out that there were as many as four examiners working on the weekends so I decided that four to one odds against getting Mr. Green was a risk worth taking.

It was raining that Saturday morning when I arrived at the Driver Examination Centre. Several motorcycles were parked outside. Two examiners wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas and clip boards were inspecting the bikes with their owners. A third was re-entering the office followed by a very upset candidate muttering words like “Please give me another chance, sir! I promise I won't forget my turn signal next time” ...but his pleas fell on deaf ears. I couldn't help wondering if that was the infamous Mr. Green.

That same examiner re-appeared a few minutes later and called out my name. “I'm Mr. Green”, he said. “Bloody Hell”, I thought to myself, I'm finished. My heart fell down into the pit of my stomach. He was a tall, thin man with very bony features. His face was wrinkled and cracked like scorched-earth and his eyes were steel grey. He was a man of few words. “Oh no!...I'm going to be examined by the Grim Reaper”, I said to myself.

He asked me to identify brake levers, lights, turn signals and horn and to test them to see that they worked properly. He pointed-out a route for me to follow while he watched me from a vantage point while taking notes. Towards the end of the test he had disappeared. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, he stepped out onto the road right in front of me causing me to do an emergency stop. “Stupid man!”, I thought to myself. I could easily have ran over him. Then he signalled me to return to the Driver Examination Centre.

After I parked my motorcycle, he just walked away. Then, I realized, by implication, that he expected me to follow behind him. When he pointed to a vacant chair in the waiting room, I assumed, correctly, that I was supposed to sit in it while he went into his office. Then, he gave me a cold penetrating stare while walking towards me. I thought, “Oh! God! this is it”. He handed me a slip of paper, and in a single word, he said, “Pass”.

Originally written on February 12, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Ha .. good story.

    Here's mine. The day before my test a friend broke my glasses by accident. The test was on a drizzly foggy day and I was to drive my bike on an course. At one point I was told to manouver between some pylons which unfortunately I couldn't see. Luckily as I rode they appeared to me and I went between them as instructed. I somehow managed to pass the test and told no one about the glasses.