Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Which Does Not Kill Us - Part 2



As I said in my previous post, I decided to change plans half way through the day. I figured if I left around 11:30am I could get to the Motor Vehicle Branch around 11:45am and wait in line. I could be in and out under an hour. Yeah right!

I get to the Motor Vehicle Branch where I see four other bikers waiting impatiently. I line up in the line where you find out where to line up, and after waiting in that line, I'm directed to the line where I need to line up only to wait in line so I can put my name down for the next Motorcycle Skills Test (another line up). I have decided on a new career path - Government work. My god it must be nice to have no responsibility to please your customers. So far as I can tell, the only thinking these people have to do is what to wear (though it looked like their judgment there was questionable), and what to eat. Because at 12 noon they all decided to take lunch and leave the trainee to fend for herself, which was probably a good thing. I would imagine that being new would probably make you more qualified to get things done there. Could you imagine being at a job where each day you work there brings you one step forward to your supreme qualification of being utterly incompetent. But I rant.....

After the long wait, my name gets called and I report with two other guys to a gentleman who is going to test us out in the parking lot. He assigns us our places in the line and tells us where to meet in the parking lot.

The other two guys look like they mean business. Nice gear, expensive bikes, and their motorcycle road test books gripped firmly in their hands. These guys have studied. Oh no!... are they going to ask me questions? Have they changed the test? No big deal. I'm second in line, I can watch what the other guy does.

The serious man with the beautiful Triumph race bike takes the longest to get ready. I've already put my helmet on, started my bike and drove over to where we were instructed to wait by the time he gets his bike started. Not so much because he's slow but more because I raced to my bike in the off chance that I would have to push start it like I did this morning. That would be embarrassing. But she started up no problem and I let her warm up really good while I waited for the other blokes to join me.

The tester beckons the guy with the Triumph over to the test course while the other guy and I give the process our complete attention. I notice the jacket the guy beside me is wearing. It's the leather Icon jacket I was looking to buy online. Thank God I didn't. It made him look like a complete loser. And he wasn't an overweight middle aged man. Imagine what I would look like in it. Ouch.

So the test seemed to go fine for the first guy. I was quite impressed with how steady and in control he was. Must be the bike! So I see the man hand him his passing papers and I get called over. i start the bike and approach...

The first words out of the guys mouth are, "Is this your bike?"


Then, "What is it?"

"A 1981 Yamaha XJ650 Maxim."

"I have the same bike at home... only I'm missing the front fork plate and my left handlebar switches."

We strike up a good conversation about the bike. I give him my number and tell him to come over on the weekend and I'll hook him up. I bet he didn't have the same rapport with the guy before me. I tell you, the Armageddon bike has an underground following like no other. We walk amongst you... undetected! He asks me to use my turn signals. Left, fine. Right, shoot! (OK don't panic! Maybe he won't notice that I'm toggling the right signal with my thumb on the switch.) OK! Brakes, hand break, fine. Foot break, good. Low beams, yep. High Beams, good. Horn, beep beep. Alright.

So the test begins.

First, walk your bike in a straight line about 15 yards and stop on a red X painted in the asphalt. I miss the red X but no biggie. Then he explains that he needs you to do the same route driving as slowly as possible. No problem. I'm a little shaky but I get down the straight line at a crawl. I would have been better but it was too early in the day to be drinking.

Second, turn your handle bars hard over and do a semi-circle. This is your turn radius. Now he sets the cones for this radius, plus a yard and a half.

Third, he explains the course he wants you to drive. Starting at the far end I need to make a left hand turn, ride slowly down the same path again, make a hard U-turn and then navigate through the slalom course. Easy. Do it again, no problem.

Fourth, accelerate down the lot to 25km/h and turn around and accelerate back. When he lowers his hand, make an emergency stop. No problem. Do it again, screech. My back tire locked up a little bit. Does that fail me? Nope, he just says whatever and hands me my papers.

"Good job, I'll call you tonight!"

Gotta love the power of the XJ. I could trade my abnormally over-sized genitalia for an expensive, shiny bike but I kinda like walking with a limp. Besides, how much excitement is it knowing that your bike will always start?

I take my papers into the training center for Wal-Mart greeters and after waiting in... yet another line!!! Then, I'm told that my learners expires on Saturday. I say I know that, but I figured I would get an extension if I passed the MST. I was wrong. So I say what if I just do the road test today? She says that would be ok. She checks her screen, and no word of a lie she asks me if May 23rd would be OK? May 23rd? It's April 15th. My permit expires on the 20th (of April). What was going through her mind to make her ask that? So basically I showed up for nothing. I ask her supervisor if I can just do my knowledge test again and extend my permit. I get a resounding...NO. She is overqualified for this job. I haven't heard my two year old daughter say no with that much authority. So I give them both a piece of my mind, blow my cool completely, and leave giving them the satisfaction of a job well done.

At least I'm legal until Saturday.

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