Friday, December 17, 2010

Driver's Unlearning Lessons

Having conquered the Israeli bureaucracy and gotten all of our paper work in order, we were now in a position to take our driving lessons before taking our driving test to get our Israeli driver's license. Or I should call them diver's unlearning lesson. This where you unlearn all of the (bad?) driving habits you developed over 45+ years of driving and learn to drive like an 18 year old teenager from Pasadena.

I remember a conversation with a Russian guard at the Ace hardware store in Beer-Sheva, where he confided in us that he was taking driving lessons. How many have you had, I asked. 40, he answered! Whoa. With all these driving lessons you'd think Israelis would be pretty good drivers. And of course they're not. Russians with driver's licenses from the former Soviet Union are regraded with special skepticism, apparently because Russians bought their licenses from corrupt government officials and never really learned to drive. I suppose NATO never had anything to fear from all those tanks pointed at Western Europe because the drivers never could have gotten them there.

In any case, one of the main things that driver ed emphasizes is using your blinker for even the slightest maneuver. This is especially ironic because if there's one thing Israeli drivers never use it is the turn signal on their car. You can be standing at an intersection with a baby carriage and the car turing will no more give you a signal than Israel will ever give the Palis an inch of Jerusalem. This must just be Jewish stiff-neckedness as a challenge to the constant badgering of their driving instructor to use that signal.

Our driving instructor is Iris, and she is very nice. Apparently we are a shoe-in to pass our test after just two lessons each! Now here's something different - in Israel the tester comes to you to give you your test. This means that you can get a driver's license if you know how to drive in Mitzpe Ramon, a town without a single traffic signal, and you can then drive in Tel Aviv, a town with worse traffic than Manhattan. Go figure. See you on the road, and don't wait for me to signal a turn.

Pam behind the wheel with her driving instructor Iris next to her. Every learner's car has that "Lamed" on top to warn everyone that a student driver is behind the wheel. What does it stand for? Lumox? Lamdan (Learner)? Probably that.

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