So the last few weeks my life has been consumed with the task of getting my commercial drivers licence. I have not taken a multiple choice test since probably 1987 and all of a sudden I have been faced with the need to take and pass 5 multiple choice tests at the oh so friendly department of motor vehicles. And did I mention that each time you take a test it costs $10.00? This DMV was the friendliest and most helpful DMV I have ever seen. Yes, I used the words friendly, helpful and DMV all together and it is true. One day I forgot my checkbook and they let me take the test anyway and pay them later. One time I forgot my birth certificate they let me take the test anyway and come back and show it to them later. These two ladies were there every single day running this very busy but small branch of the DMV. They rooted for me to pass my tests and felt sad with me when I did not pass. Dare I say I will miss seeing them everyday? :)
The first test I had to take was the test to get my Massachusetts drivers licence changed to an Oregon drivers licence. It was 25 questions and I passed easily. That give me a small boost of confidence to face my next test.
The next one was called General Knowledge. Sounds harmless, right? Yeah, but the rumor on the street was that it was very hard. Fifty questions covering 32 pages of everything from Vehicle Inspection to Mountain Driving to Hazardous Materials Rules. I did not pass this one the first time. I missed passing it by two questions. I forced myself to not feel sad about the not passing thing. I studied a little more and thought a little more about how they were wording these gosh darn multiple choice questions. I am convinced that they hire the trickiest people on the planet to write those multiple choice questions. If you have some serious, "being tricky" skills you may want to consider this career path :) The second time I took the test I passed the General Knowledge test with ease.
Then I aced the Passenger Test which had easy questions like, "What are some hazardous materials you can transport by bus?" Did you know that while I am driving a school bus, if I ever wanted to, I could transport some small arms ammunition, emergency hospital supplies, and drugs but never more then 500 lbs of the aforementioned items... so good to know :) This test was only 20 questions but I felt on top of the world when I passed it with 100 %. It is the little things :)
After the Passenger test I had to face the School Bus test this one was 25 questions and I passed it easily too. This test is where I learned all about all the different kinds of mirrors a school bus has and what they are for. It is amazing all that I took for granted that school bus drivers did not knowing all they had to do to become one. There are so many steps to loading and unloading that bus...who knew? :)
Last but not least was the dreaded Air Brakes test. This one was hard. I knew it. The minute you are minding your own business, reading a manual, and pictures of air tanks, drum brakes, and dual air brake systems with ABS come up you just know there are not going to be any questions about unicorns and rainbows and how they make you feel, on this test. I decided to be totally irresponsible and take the test without really studying and see what would happen. I just had to know if it was as hard as "they" said. I missed passing it when I missed the last question out of 25. I was bummed but also knew then that I could easily pass it the next day with some study. So I went home and memorized air brake system parts and how to inspect air brakes. And I passed.
On each of these tests you have three tries to pass. You can retake the next day until it is the fourth time and then you have to wait 28 days....yeah, a very real bummer. I was so relieved this did not happen to me.
Once all the test are done there is still more to becoming a school bus driver. Today I had the joy of getting a physical and taking a strength test. I had to drive to Eugene for these tests. They left out a small detail of the peeing in a cup for a drug test. Oh and I need to warn you. If knowing that I do indeed pee or if reading the word pee makes you uncomfortable do not read this next part because I have to tell you this story that does happen to involve pee.
So I have never had a drug test in my life. I knew it was part of being a school bus driver but I did not have any warning that it was going to be part of this particular day. When the nurse finally called my name for my physical the very first thing was the drug pee test. I have peed in cups many times so I had no idea this part could be hard. I was a little bit taken aback at how strict they were....checking my pockets....demanding that I NOT flush?? WHAT? But my mom said I should flush? Okay, fine... I took the cup and did as I was told. When she saw my cup the nurse immediately said, "this is not enough". I was confused. All my life. All my pregnancies. All my peeing in a cup has always been enough. What did not enough mean? Well she showed me the impossible line I must reach and then she gave me a handout with three very detailed rules and instructions. I had three hours to produce the required amount of pee. I could not leave the waiting room during this time or it would be considered a refusal to the take the drug test and reported. I was then unceremoniously handed a huge rubbermaid container with a huge black number three written on it and 40 oz of tepid water in it and told to go back to the waiting room and drink it all and let them know when I was ready to give them enough pee.
Can I tell you how mortifying it is to walk into a very crowded waiting room with a huge container of water? Everyone knows without a doubt that you did not pee enough. You failed the drug testing pee test. No hiding that. So I avoided eye contact with anyone in the room, sat down, poured my paper cup full of my first 8 oz and meekly started drinking and I drank 40 ounces of water in 20 minutes. I had appointments lined up back to back all day and I needed to get this done... they would not do my strength test or my physical until I peed enough for them. I asked the nurse how long it would take for the water to work its magic and she told me about an hour. So I figured out how quickly I had to drink the water and did it. The tragic part is they had The Queen Latifah show on TV and not one gossip magazine in sight. If you are going to require me to drink 40 ounces of water in your waiting room and then wait for it to go through my system please have interesting magazines for me to read.....please :)
By 11:00 am I had finally filled the cup and had had my physical. The nurse warned me that this time the pee looked too diluted but I just smiled and told her I would be happy to come back if that was the case. Geesh, what to do with these picky pee people? :) All I had left to finish was the strength test. Which required me to drag 120 lbs 30 feet in 25 seconds. And to do all sorts of things in lots of repetitions. Like pushing a dummy loaded down with weights in a wheel chair in a figure eight ten times.
It was very fascinating and I enjoyed this part. Other than the fact that I had to leave in the middle to do to the bathroom again :)
So at the end of the day I have my commercial drivers licence permit and I am ready now to have my thirty hours of practice driving before I pass that test.
I am still wrapping my mind around this change in my life plan. I know this is the right thing for me right now. There is no where I could make $16.00 and hour and never have to be at work when my kids are home. As much as my hear aches for the library this is where I should be right now.....taking multiple choice tests and peeing in cups :)