Gefilte Fish Out of Water

Getting Driver’s License – Parts 5, 6 & 6.5
February 6, 2010, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Official Immigrant Stuff | Tags:

On Wednesday I took and passed my driving test!  Yay, me.  After your first year here, it gets a lot harder to convert a foreign license, so even though I don’t plan on doing a lot of driving (or buying a car) here, I wanted to get this done. 

So, that’s it, huh?  The whole beaurocratic process is finito?  That wasn’t so bad.  HaHaHaHa, Silly wabbit – this is Israel !   No, it ain’t over  yet…   But first, let’s recap my big day:

After the instructor Avi (who only had a stick shift car) gave my paperwork to Elie (who has automatic), Elie set up everything for me – contacted the official driving peeps and got me my appointment.  Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. 

I was kinda nervous, leading up to Wednesday.  OK, not really nervous, but was there anything I should be doing to prepare?  No, I know how to drive already.  I guess I was just worried about all the instructions (left…right…stop) being given to me in Hebrew.

I showed up around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and waited in line at the little post office they have outside the Ministry of Licenses.  This was so I could pay 60 shekels to get some piece of paper I needed to give Elie in order for him to give me my lesson.  Then Elie and I had my lesson.  Good thing, too.  Because my driving habits are really ingrained, and it turns out they do things a little differently in Israel.  Like, you’re not allowed to turn your head around at all; you have to use your mirrors for everything.  Well, when I learned to drive, it was really driven into me (sorry) the importance of checking your blind spot.  Dont trust your mirrors – see it with your own eyes.  And, so when I was merging onto the expressway or making a turn, I could not help myself from turning my head around.  Over and over, Elie had to remind me not to do this.  And it was because we drove around together for 90 minutes first that I was finally able to stop myself from doing that.

Also, you know, I learned to drive, ahem 24 years ago.  I don’t exactly put my hands at ten and two o’clock on the wheel anymore.  Elie had to keep reminding me to use two hands and turn the wheel in that one-over-the-other method instead of, you know, underhanding it with my right hand while I txt with my left.  And of course, he kept saying, Liat, liat (slowly, slowly).  Apparently, my inclination was to go a little above the speed limit.

Anyway, the actual test was a piece of cake compared to the lesson before it.  I had a very nice & friendly instructor, and I had heard stories and been prepared for a much more stoic and formal sort of person.  The driving exam was under :20 minutes, and I swear it felt like it could have been :15.  There was no parallel parking, and I only had to go on the highway for like two seconds.  BTW, the day cost me $450 shekels (about $121) – 150 shex for the lesson and 300 for the test.

So, did I pass?  I already told you I did.  But – this being Israel – you don’t find that out right away.  Elie would call me with the news the next day, and assuming I passed, I’d have to come by and pick up the certificate or diploma or whatever it is – and then mail it into the government and pay another 450-something shekel fee. 

Actually, Elie called later that same day to give me the good news.  It really did feel great.  Next day I went back to the Ministry (remember, this is a half hour local bus route away in Holon, a town south of Tel Aviv), but I had a teensy bit of concern, b/c I’ve always gone there in the mornings, and this was around noon when I was heading over.  I took my lesson and test around the same time the day before, so I should be OK…but I had a nagging worry that they could be closed.

And they were.  Should have called or checked online, but that’s not always a piece of cake if an English translation isn’t available.  When your day is  scheduled to within an inch of your life, as mine permanently are, this really sucks.

.בסדר  I’ll go back tomorrow morning and inch closer to completion.


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