Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A New Kind of Driving Test

 JUNGLE RED:  This is one of those days we especially love—it’s a red pub day!  Today we celebrate Hank’s DRIVE TIME—the fourth of who knows how many Charlotte McNally mysteries. And its now reissued, in gorgeous new editions, so any one you readers who missed it can…ah, trying to think of a driving analogy. Get into the fast lane? Speed ahead with the books? 

Library Journal gave DRIVE TIME a starred review—saying “Puts Ryan in a league with Lisa Scottoline.” Yay! And Robert B. Parker, in maybe the last blurb he gave, said “Hank understands plotting and writes beautifully. I loved Drive Time.”

So Hank’s in the JRW hot seat today. (Driver's seat?)  And she’ll award the Charlotte McNally book of your choice to one lucky commenter!

JRW:  One of the things about the Charlotte McNally books that we love:  You don't have to read them in order. Did you plan that?

Plan? Plan? When I wrote PRIME TIME I had no idea it would be a series. I was such a newbie that I didn’t plan for that. As a result, there there is one tiny thing in PRIME TIME that's a surprise--and if you read the other books first, it won't be.

However! It is so much fun to see how Charlotte met her beau. So it is extra fun if you don’t read PRIME TIME first. (It becomes a wonderful prequel!)

JRW:  So the books are standalones? Like Sue Grafton’s, right? You can read them in any order.

HANK: JUST like Sue Grafton’s, absolutely. And yes, when I finally figured out what I was doing, I made the other books absolutely standalones.  Of course people's lives change, but each book is a solid complete story in itself.
You can read them in any order.

JRW:  Was it different writing the four books? It’s always a journey for a series author.

: Each book was so different! In PRIME TIME there were no stakes. I had no contract, no deadlines. Only dreams. I was devoted to that story, but I had no idea what I was doing and blithely typed away. It was a joy every minute.

FACE TIME—boom--was a new experience! I had a contract and a deadline, and so my mindset was more much more serious. I also wanted to make the subject a little more important, and the writing richer, and I felt a big responsibility to make it better and even more successful than PRIME TIME.

AIR TIME was the beginning of my second contract! And that was a true life change. I remember very clearly thinking whoa… I have a new job! I’m an author!  I learned from my TV experience to give every story all you've got. To hold nothing back.  But now on book three, I wondered, do I have anything else? And can I grow as a writer? (This was about the time Jungle Red started, right?)

early Reds! Rosemary and Jan, with Lucy, Hank and Hallie
But I was incredibly pleased with AIR TIME. I will admit I think is very clever! And it gave me a lot of confidence.  Yes, Sue Grafton loved it :-) so that gave me great fuel.


HANK:  DRIVE TIME. You know, gang, that was a different story. With DRIVE TIME I thought…and I can tell you this because it’s just us. I thought: I'm an Author.  I'm going to do this, amp it up beyond anything I could have imagined, and I'm going to do this big big big. I understood the stakes. The rhythm. The structure. The careful choice of every word. That every decision counts.

You have known me for a while, you all, and you can see, I can at least, how I changed as an author for  DRIVE TIME.

It's the first of my books with two parallel plots, the first time I had to juggle two stories. One, Charlotte on the trail of her investigation of dangerous automobiles, and a nefarious scheme to steal cars. And then the other storyline, blackmail and extortion at an exclusive private school. And, of course, Charlotte’s personal life.

As I analyze, I do see the structure for the Jane Ryland stories being foreshadowed. In a way, I was working on the Jane Ryland thrillers—though I didn’t know it—as I was writing this book.

So reading it now, through that filter, it’s kind of instructive.

 So the investigation Charlie does in DRIVE TIME: That came from real life?

HANK: Yes, absolutely! We did a series of stories on the ineffectiveness of automobile recalls, and how likely it is that you will rent or buy a car with an open recall—so dangerous, and it’s still a problem.  I’ve also done many stories about the closed circle atmosphere of sun exclusive private schools, and what that can lead to.  And, as I bet we all have, I once got ridiculously lost in a parking garage. Everything is fodder for a story, right?

JRW: And the reviews were amazing—on a different plane.

HANK: Aw. Yes. The Charlie books were very well received, but I could see from the tone of the reviews that people were looking at this one a bit differently. Taking me more seriously. It actually makes me cry to remember it. 

The opening quotation for DRIVE TIME is from Stephen King. And it still gives me chills. Because it is the essence of everything I write now.

“Only enemies speak the truth;
friends and lovers lie endlessly,
caught in the web of duty.”

It is so perfect for DRIVE TIME, and I write about that very theme all the time.

JRW: I bet your drivers ed teacher is laughing so hard. You and cars were never a happy couple.

HANK: Oh, you are SO right! My driver’s ed experience was horrific. 

Actual dialogue from real life:
Hank’s Drivers Ed teacher: “Watch out for that car!”
Hank:  “What car?”

I failed my first driving test.  SO unfair.

JRW:  In happier news:  we hear there’s a DRIVE TIME giveaway? Sounds terrific.

HANK: Yup. It ends in 2 days! Click here for the scoop—two books for the price of one, and a free giftie!  https://a.pgtb.me/p8bk8B

JRW and Hank: So lovely Reds and readers, how was your drivers ed experience? Do you like to drive? Are you good at it? 

 Hank’s giving a Charlie book of your choice to one lucky commenter!

(US only please, the postage is prohibitive.)  


  1. Although I’d taken driver’s ed in high school [the classroom/written was all that our high school offered], I never went on to get my driver’s license. My reticence, due to my less than stellar vision, lasted until I was in college and found it more than difficult to get myself to the places I needed to go.
    So, in the early summer evenings, my girlfriend, her soon-to-be-mother-in-law, and I went driving after we’d finished work [we all worked together in a cafeteria by the beach]. She taught both of us how to drive, we passed the driving test, and we got our licenses.

    I don’t know if I am “good” at driving, but I am a careful driver. And, no, I don’t like to drive. [Despise is the word that comes immediately to mind.] So, of course, my job is thirty-some miles from my house . . . .

  2. Hank, I failed my first driving test on ice covered Parker Hill after a February snow storm. The examiner had me do a hill stop on that steepest part near New England Baptist Hospital.

  3. Hank, congratulations on the reissuing of the Charlie McNally books! I have copies of the original paperbacks, and live outside the US, so count me out of the drawing for a new book.

    As for driving, I never got my driver's license. I would never pass the test due to my bad eyesight, no peripheral vision at all. That's why I walking and cycling are my major mode of locomotion!

  4. My father failed his last driving test... at seventy-something... his car ran out of gas in the middle of it. Really.

    And Hank, I *loved* Drive Time!

  5. Joan, I despise it's too! Mainly , because everyone else on the road is so crazy, you know?

    Reine -- that is so mean. Really, that you were set up to fail… Grrr.

  6. Such fun that you have the originals, Grace! Those are very scarce now… Very very few left in the universe. So sorry about the Canada thing… I thought of you when we made the rules! But it is so very expensive to send books to Canada! It cost more than the book!

  7. Hallie that is too funny! What an embarrassment! But it seems like the car failed, not him…
    And thank you!… so lovely of you !

  8. Does the contest link work on your computer? Let me know if I need to fix it…

  9. Hank, no problem...I am used to many giveaways being restricted to US only. Some US authors (Krista Davis and Tracy Weber) have used www.BookDepository.com which sends books free worldwide. A possible option for JRW authors to use in giveaways for their international readers?

    And I did not realize the original paperbacks are very scarce. I would post a photo of them on my bookshelf if blogger allowed.

  10. The hardcover reissues continue to dazzle, Hank. Congratulations.

    As one who read your books in the order they were released (though, I will admit that three were out before I started with the first), I would agree that you can certainly see the progression of your writing with each book. This is not to say those first books were not good - just the opposite really - but to say that no matter what level one is at, the more you do something, the better you are going to get at it.

    Also, I think the confidence of a few books allows an author the ability to take risks that seem unfathomable in the early stages of a career. Take Stephen King for a prime example: CARRIE is an amazing first novel, but compare it to the complex works that came later in his career and you can see that this man was just a born story-teller, honing his craft.

    Very similar to all the Reds. Rock on!

  11. I loved Charlotte and cried at the end of the Drive Time. Of course, that's before I met Jane. I love that these books are being re-released. They deserve a second read.

  12. I enjoyed all of the Charlotte McNally stories.

    I passed my road test on the first try. I knew if I failed, I would never get my license. I do not like to drive. I've had my license for 20+ years and drove twice. It's nerve wracking.

  13. I'm so excited about these re-releases! Congratulations, Hank!

    Yes, I flunked my driving test the first time, too. I hit the curb. *sigh* I mean, it's not like I hit another car, right???

    But this reminds me of the weeks leading up to the test. My mom, who would have (probably SHOULD have) been the one to teach me to drive had recently had surgery so the task fell to my dad. I loved my dad more than life, but he and I were too much alike and pushed each other's buttons. Parallel parking? I have no idea how either of us survived it. But now I look back on those father-daughter moments with a smile and a laugh.

  14. I think I'm a good driver. If my husband happens to be in the passenger seat (which I don't allow to happen often), he clutches the handle on the door like I'm in a demolition derby.

    I did not pass the first written test for a driver's license. I waited years to try again. The second time was the charm -- I just squeaked by the written test. On the driving test, I barely managed to do the parallel parking, and the DMV told me I was a little too cautious. But 30 years later, only one of the accidents I've been in was my fault (I was backing out of my driveway and I stopped for the first car and missed the second car).

  15. I had THE best Driver's Ed teacher and I passed the first try - although, I was one of the only one of my friends who did. I, however, was kinda let down by my school - people younger than I got to take the class before me so I was already 16 when u even started the class. I'm still a pretty good driver, though I do get tired of it. ��

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  17. Anyone who knows how Type A perfectionist I am (my chiropractor even calls me Type A+ because when would a mere A be good enough for me) knows that I aced both the written and practical tests with a perfect score. The examiner was mightily impressed that not only was I the first perfect score he'd ever given but that I took the test in a violent downpour and parallel parked a car that had no power steering, power brakes or fuel injection.

    He was even more nonplussed when I explained that I had learned how to drive on a dump truck. :)

    (Of course, I had to delete my previous comment due to a typo.)

  18. I love driving even today. My jaunts from CT to MA are fun and great thinking time. I took Driver's ED in and passed on the first try. I remember being disappointed that I wasn't ask by the instructor/tester to parallel park. Cause I aced that in my lessons.

    Can wait to read the Drive Time, Hank.

  19. Aimee, that's hilarious, about learning in a dump truck. After that, everything else is a breeze, right?

    Hank, I already have all of your other Charlie books, the original paperbacks (I'm pretty sure at least one, maybe two, are signed), so leave me out, as well. Fun facts about the background.

    My family didn't have a car, so I did not take drivers' ed with my friends, and actually didn't learn to drive until I was 20. My then-husband was a brand-new cop, and he taught me, scaring the living daylights out of me with his dire warnings and constant shouting. His gentle father, though, taught me to parallel park (no power steering in 1971), and gave me the best advice. I've passed the same advice on to my own three kids when they were learning to drive, too: Stay in your own lane, and signal your turns and lane changes. Thanks to his much calmer teaching than his son's, I passed my test with flying colors.

    I wish everyone'd had Floyd Whitaker teach them!

  20. I didn't take drivers ed since my dad wouldn't let me get my license until I was 18 and then he taught me to drive (not fun). I did pass my roadtest the first time though which was good. I'm a good driver but I really hate to drive.

  21. Kristopher! Yes, indeedy. You just go ahead and compare me to Stephen King. :-) But thank you, I do see what you mean..xoo

    KAIT! You cried? I love that! Exactly what I hoped would happen.

  22. Annetek, you are SO brave! YOur Dad, too..that's an impossible situation..but you survived.

    And hey, hitting the curb? No biggie. I would have passed you.

  23. Storm: clutching the door handle is over the top. Bu I admit--I have done it too. The passenger seat is a different pov altogether, right?

    Kelli Jo--what made the teacher "good"?

  24. AIMEE! Very very impressive! xoo Wish I could see you drive a dump truck...

    Marian, parallel parking is actually a cool thing, isn't it? The idea of making it work. I kind of love it

  25. My driver's ed partner hit another car practicing regular parking early on, so she had to retake the course, and I had one-on-one instruction for the rest of the semester. However, my driver's ed teacher was a curmudgeonly track coach who wouldn't even let us stop at 7-11 like the other coaches who taught it, and we also could not listen to our own radio stations - think farm report. He also had the clunkiest car and his own brake on his side of the car, which was kind of freaky. Coach Mouser (yes, that was his name) was known for slapping at his students hands when they were doing something wrong, he did that to me once (during parallel parking, of course), and I slapped his hand back. For some reason, he really liked me after that, and I got an A+ in the course and ended up scoring 100 on my driving test. Go figure...

    I loved Prime Time and can't wait to read the rest of the series!

  26. Karen, Floyd WHitaker sounds like a great guy. And what a perfect name! And that advice is stellar. Will you tell Jonathan, please?

    Kiki--do you hate it because everyone else is crazy?

  27. Yay, Hank! I'm so pleased your Charlotte McNally books are getting such cool new editions, because I love Charlie.

    Also on the drivers ed front - Youngest began classes yesterday. Pray for me.

  28. Oh, Julia. Praying. xooxo Let's get Aimee and Floyd to teach! Keep us posted!

  29. I took driver's ed in school. Both parents taught me to drive. I still remember doing figure 8's in a big parking lot learning how to control the car.

    I passed on my first try. Took the test in December in Buffalo (Pearl Harbor Day). Had to parallel park between two six-foot snow drifts. I think the next time I successfully parallel parked was years later, after I was married, and had moved to Pittsburgh. Generally my method of parallel-parking is to keep driving until I find a spot where I DON'T have to parallel park. =)

    I think I'm a decent driver. However, as the years have gone on, I like it less and less. Other drivers can be...frustrating. Cutting me off, turning two lane residential streets into four lanes because they don't want to wait for me to make the left, the infamous Pittsburgh left...ARGH!

    This Friday I am (gulp) taking The Girl to get her learner's permit. We've already agreed that The Hubby will teach the basic mechanics and I will only have to ride along for her to get her hours and take care of the paperwork/testing scheduling. She and I have such similar personalities we'd rub each other the wrong way. And I'd get too mad at the other drivers!

    Congrats on the reissue of the Charlie books! I read PRIME TIME a long while ago; now I get to read them all!

  30. I took driver's ed too. Or it took me. Prior to that I had exactly one lesson given by my dad at the local shopping mall parking lot. I had never been behind the wheel and knew nothing! I didn't realize that the dumb car would creep along if you didn't keep your foot on the brake. Dad hollered to brake so I did. Power brakes. I'm surprised we didn't all go through the windshield. My little brother ended the lesson by wetting his pants; he was sitting on Dad's lap. I did take behind the wheel and my instructor, who was a saint, called my parents and told them I would pass but needed LOTS of practice. So Dad started having me drive him everywhere. Nerves of steel. I took the driver's test the following year and passed! I was pulling up to park by the curb and ran over the curb instead. Fortunately the test was over and the policeman couldn't take off points.
    Hank, I have Drive Time coming in the mail. The baggage claim scenes in Air Time were so spot on I have to wonder if any airport does it differently. Really. Baggage claim area in the New Delhi airport is the same as in Houston.
    My captcha is street signs. Very appropriate.

  31. Well, it was sort of difficult for me to get a competant teacher.... OK, maybe I needed to learn more patience... I only had two older brothers.... by the time it was my turn to learn how to drive my dad was already a nervous wreck.

    I did FANTASTIC the second time I took the test.

  32. I first got behind the wheel in a dirt lot behind a makeshift RV campground in Rosarito Beach (Tijuana) when I was 14. My girlfriend's brother said, "Here's the brake, here's the gas, go!" And I did. Formally took the driving and written courses the summer I was 15 and had the best instructor next to Floyd Whitaker --- Mr. Simms. Learned to drive manual transmission, parallel park (came in very handy while taking courses at UCLA Extension and having to find parking in Westwood --- ugh), and drive mountain roads.

    Still love to drive and have to say I'm a good driver. I wish everyone would take Floyd Whitaker's advice. I'm tempted to make some sign that says, "Your turn indicator is broken" and wave it past everyone who doesn't indicate a turn or lane change. But then I figure road rage might erupt from the other driver.

    Looking forward to reading Drive Time, Hank. Didn't have the opportunity the first time around. Congratulations on the re-issues.


  33. Wow! My driver's education started in high school. Unfortunately, my public school's driver's training program fell victim to budget cuts! I had to go to DMV to take the written exam for a learner's permit. Once I passed the exam, we had to look for a driver's school where the instructor knew sign language. The instructor was fantastic! She instructed me in sign language. I went to two different DMV places. The first one was awful. The second DMV was the same DMV where my 16 year old cousin took the test and passed. I was lucky that the lady who gave me the test gave clear instructions. I drove the family car for the test and passed! I finally got my driver's license in my 30s!

    Hank, your book, Drive Time, sounds fascinating! I would love to win a copy! I get what you mean about recalled cars. I never buy a car from a company that has recalled their cars.


  34. This book sounds good! Honestly, it's been so long since I took my
    driving test, I can't remember if I passed on the first try!

  35. My Dad was teaching me to drive. It was a snowy day on a narrow road, a car was coming towards us. I said "What do I do???" He said "Pull over.." I did; right into a parked car. That ended driving lessons for many years. I did get my license but have yet to master a stick shift.

  36. Mary! Love that parallel parking method! Perfect. Works every time

  37. Pat D! That is too funny… Poor thing! And your poor little brother! I am sorry… I am laughing.

    Thank you for the kind words about Air Time! Indeed, I am still haunted by it every time I am at an airport too! My nefarious scheme could really work, right?

  38. Laura, I am also a happy member of the second time club. So all good!

  39. Hank, so excited to get this book! Kayti and I are loving the Charlies!!! And very interesting to read about the writing progression.

    Julia, praying for you, LOL.

    I passed my driver's test first time. I was so nervous, because I had to parallel park in my dad's monster Lincoln Continental, but I did. Must say I don't parallel park nearly so well now... I didn't learn to drive a stick until a couple of years later, when my dad got it into his head to buy me a used Datsun 240Z. We took it for a test drive and I had no choice but to learn on the spot! (What was my dad thinking??? But I loved that car, and drove it until I moved to Scotland years later.) I still prefer driving a standard, but don't anymore because it's just too hard in big city rush hour traffic.

    When my daughter was learning to drive, I had a Honda Prelude (RED.) My favorite car ever after the 240Z. She just could not get the hang of the shift, no matter how much we practiced. Then my big brother came to visit. He took her out once, for a couple of hours, and after that she was bloody perfect on it. I don't know what he did but it was magic. He also taught Kayti to water ski, by the way. He was the only one that could drive the boat just right.

  40. Debs, am I a dog in the manger because parallel parking is not required on the driving test anymore? I think if I suffered so should everyone else! I learned to drive standard in my twenties when I was pregnant. I swear everytime I shifted gears on I-10 (this was El Paso) I had a contraction. I have had a car with manual shift ever since. It was certainly handy when we lived in Ohio and Minnesota and had snowy winters. Not so handy in Houston but I like to delude myself with the thought that I can drive my Liberty anywhere.

  41. I only passed my first driver's test because he let me parallel park in a space big enough for an aircraft carrier.

    Other than that deficiency, I love to drive and would constantly be on a road trip if I could.


  42. I took driver's ed. in high school, but didn't go for a license then; I did get signaling drilled into me, though. I was in my late 20s when I finally got around to driving, in order to work as a sales agent for Prudential, and my bosses helped me practice driving. I did fail the first attempt, with a rather arrogant young officer who wrote that I had "interfered with other drivers' right of way" by being too slow and timid making a left turn. The second attempt was with an older, mellower officer, and my then-husband had promised champagne if I succeeded. I also hedged my bet by muttering, "I am so looking forward to a car with automatic transmission" when struggling with changing gears on a hill. It wasn't quite a lie; I did get an automatic . . . twenty years later. I CAN parallel park, with a big enough space, but prefer not to. In fact, I'd rather have a space that doesn't require backing out either. I'll be very happy if they perfect self-driving cars. ;-)

  43. Our school was so large, all we got was the classroom part. I failed my first drivers test as well. Something about rolling stops. I blame my stepfather, that's the way he taught me. Passed it the second time, though.

  44. Great comments today. I think extracurricular activities were developed so that parents would let their children get their driver's license and the parents would not have to cart the kids to all those activities. I know that's why I made my kids get theirs the first day they were old enough.

  45. This conversation reminded me of a poem I wrote for Howard Schwarz's class in '93.
    by Mary Garrett

    Ray Bradbury, the guru of space travel, will not drive a car.
    More die each year from cars than from Vietnam at its worst,
    And where are the marches in protest?

    Instead, we daily enter thin sheaths of metal, and Auto-propel
    Ourselves at impossible speeds over hard concrete.
    Only a thin line of white paint separates cars on either side.
    We seldom ask if this trip, this job, this play, this class,
    This visit is worth the risk.

    Highway rules are followed, most of the time;
    Defensive vigilance is maintained by drivers, most of the time;
    Guardian angels or luck protects us, some of the time.

    When those fail, the first law of physics prevails:
    Two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

  46. My mother taught me to drive with a few lessons from HER driving instructors, Mr & Mrs Murphy. Mother had not learned until she was 29 (city girl) and vowed that I would learn young before anxiety could take over.
    If any of you remember rubbery girdles of the early 50s, you can envision Mother so drenched with sweat after her lessons that the girdle would not come come off -- "suction cup" action.
    So in 1962 at 16 I learned and passed the test on the first try including parallel parking. Driving the Murphy's automatic, although my main driving experience was stick.Twelve years later I had to take a driving test as I had moved to a different state with no reciprocity. Passed on the first try including parallel parking.
    And those are the two times in my life that I have parallel parked...I'm not going to try for a third time. I'm with Mary -- keep driving until a good parking place appears.
    Congratulations on Drive Time, Hank.

  47. Hank, you are so funny! What car? Hahaha! It's little wonder your characters are so witty. I promise that I am getting to the Charlotte books, but I will probably make it one of my series reads, where I read them all one after another, and that's going to have to be after Bouchercon.

    Seems we all have an important relationship with parallel parking. I'm sure that being able to parallel park was what enabled me to pass my driver's test. I actually enjoy parallel parking, and it was a great coup when my husband and I went out to eat one night last year, and he was attempting to parallel park the car in front of the restaurant. After three or four trys, he looked at me and said, "Okay, you do it," and I did on the first try. Hehehe!

  48. Since my parents, sister, and all my friends had cars I didn't get my drivers license until I was 19. I was working two jobs and going to school at night so my Dad said I had to get my license and he'd find me a car that I could pay for.

    I learned to drive in the cemetery at night in my best friend's car. When I went for my test I drove my Mom's huge Chevy wagon. I passed the test but didn't do well on parking. The nice, middle-aged man giving me the test told my Mom that was a huge car for such a tiny girl and wrote PP for poor parking on the test and passed me. My Mom told my Dad I only passed because I was a blonde and had on a pink sweater. Sounds sexy, right? It had on a pink button-down collar blouse, a pink shirt, and a button-down-the-front cardigan sweater. LOL I was dressed for work.

    Don't put me in for the book and I've read the whole series. I remember getting my first copy as a romance contest judge. When I went to get the second book in the series, I told the lady in B&N that "this author has a huge career ahead of her." We had trouble finding the second book because it was filed in mystery.

  49. Not so bad, although the first time I drove in snow was the day of my driver's test.

  50. Oh,Debs the stick shift thing. Once you learn, it is such fun! I even agree.

    Pat D--its not required! COme on..its a rite of passage!

    (Sorry to be away so long--we were out shooting a story!)

  51. Storyteller Mary--I cannot believe you're looking forward to self-driving cars! I think it sounds so awful...

    Patricia P--rolling stops, The scourge.

  52. Barbara --the world is divided into "hurry up and learn" and "never never never!"

    Storyteller Mary--that is profound and wonderful. Thank you!

  53. Coralee I am seriously still laughing. Still laughing. I have been laughing about your post all day.

  54. Elisabeth, yes definitely quit while you're ahead!

    Diana, thank you! It is such a huge problem… And the problem is, you may have a recalled car and not know it. You may buy a car, and it will be recalled, and you won't know it. They rent a car with a recall, and not know it. System for notification and follow up is incredibly flawed.

    It did make a great TV news story, and also a pretty good book! Xxxx

  55. Pat Marinelli, you make me burst into tears. And yes, that was so frustrating-I heard it everywhere. The "romantic suspense" people could not find it because it was in mystery. In other stores, the mystery people could not find it because it was in suspense.

    I cannot tell you how much it means to me to hear you say this. Thank you.

  56. I took lessons from a professional driving school, and they switched my instructor right before the road test. He was new to the area, didn’t know the written and driving tests were at different locations in the city, and took me to the wrong place. He got the address for the right location and, the entire time we were driving to it, kept muttering about probably having to reschedule since we were already late. Luckily, the line was so long when we arrived, it wasn’t a problem.

    My turn came and things went well for about the first 30 seconds. In the middle of parallel parking, the officer asked why I was taking my road test in Newark instead of Wayne where I took my written test. I told him I had taken my written test in Newark and was told to take my road test in Newark. He didn’t believe me and argued with me during the entire test, insisting I was lying to him as the person who signed my permit worked in Wayne, not Newark. When we reached the end of the course, he told me to stay in the car while he got out and stomped over to the guy from the driving school demanding to know what the deal was. New guy didn’t have a clue so he couldn’t confirm my story. Of course, other officers noticed something going on and joined the fun. Now I had a group to stare and point at me while they discussed the lie. Eventually, the guy who gave me the test went into their booth and started making phone calls. Outcome was he discovered I was telling the truth. - someone from Newark had called out sick the day I took my written test and the guy from Wayne covered the shift.

    Thankfully, I did manage to pass after all the commotion. I don’t think I would have bothered to go back if I had failed.