License to Ill
I got my theoretical drivers’ license, boosting me up halfway into mediocrity transportation-wise. It’s 45% for work, 45% for crossing the US, and 10% for paying back the endless patience my friends have had with me.
It was long overdue, and not because I’m nearing 30 and you think I should be able to drive by now, but because I’ve missed some golden opportunities in the recent past, chances I will never get again, because I couldn’t drive. My last job as a technician went something like this:
“Oh, hey. Listen… The set is collected in my garage, but it will need to be transported to Bruges in the morning. I can’t make it until the afternoon and neither can the director, would you be willing to come pick it up and drive it?”
-“I would really love to, but I can’t drive at all. In fact, I’ll have to take a train, myself.”
-“Le shit. Then we’ll have to find someone else to transport it. You might as well catch a ride with them, then.”
Add to that, that I had to be driven back home late at night, having missed my father’s 60th birthday party because the actors wanted to celebrate their last performance of the tour, and the whole situation just becomes increasingly embarrassing very quickly.
And naturally, now that I finally want this over with, I am kindly reminded of why I never bothered to begin with. Belgium is known far and wide for its bureaucracy, even within Europe, which is a bureaucratic throne fit for a bureaucratic tyrant. Which is us.
A Texan friend described to me how getting a license in her home town was as quick as driving around the block and getting your picture taken, where as here, I had to study for 2 weeks for my theoretical exam, and I now have the choice: A 24 month permit where I have to get 20 hours done at a school, after which I can “practice” by myself until I’m ready for my practical, or a 36-month combo that lets me choose my own instructor but I can never drive on my own. Sense: It makes none.
Since I happen to not have hundreds of euros to spend on sexist instructors and my father happens to be a better driver than most of them, I am going for the 36 months. This requires me to do the following:
-Fill in a form, including my father’s most intimate personal details.
-Take this form to the town hall of the fucking hamlet he lives in to get it checked and autographed, which is a bitch to get to because I don’t own a car.
-Take this to the town hall of the hamlet I live in, with a photo -I assume because this info is nowhere to be found.
-Wait a week.
-Go back to the town hall and collect my temporary license. I am now fit to start learning how a car works.
Breaking all the above regulations and my first batch of traffic laws, I already drove around for a couple hours and in sharp contrast with said regulations, it was heaps of fun. After driving just about everything between a forklift and a tank, it feels pretty natural but for the manual shift European cars are blessed with. It’s a fascinating thing to be so interactive with the engine and have direct control over coupling, I felt much more in tune with the machine I was driving.
So as soon as I have the time to wrestle through this mind-numbing process of sucking functionary dick, I’m going to drive for all I’m worth, making myself the most courteous, bad-ass, awesomesauce automobilist on the world’s streets. Before my glory can reach your jealousy glands, Steve will be Stevin’ it on my radio while I cross every desert I find in a junkheap car.
Or that’s what it will feel like, either way. 30 years as a passenger is a long time.