I’M GETTING A MINOR JOB COMPLEX, AND WONDERING WHEN MY BAD CAR-MA IS GOING TO RUN OUT OF GAS.
That’s the Biblical Job, the guy who ran into a string of bad luck unmatched in history (until the invention of Las Vegas), and had a tough time not blaming God for it.
Little did he know that God had made a bet with Satan and was indeed messing with him. (You see? Misfortune follows wagering like a transmission fluid leak.) Interpretation of those events gets complicated, according to Biblical scholars, pretty much coming down to the old reliable bottom line that man cannot grasp the scope or reason of the Divine Mind. Which conveniently explains just about everything that you have trouble otherwise explaining.
I consider myself pretty righteous, but Job apparently was famous for it. God, in his reported chat with Satan — I’m so curious, did they do this often? Every other Friday? Did they play chess, poker, Boggle? Argue physics, Santa Monica politics or the broadcast rights of Dodger games and whether or not Vin Scully is a saint? — Satan provoked his former boss by stating that no man obeys God except for his own selfish motives. Oh, smack.
So “the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'” (Job 1:8) OK, Job’s got me on those two counts, though I do shun some evil. And while I did have a rough two weeks, I lost none of my children from their home falling in on their heads, nor 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and/or 500 female donkeys (that one raises all sorts of questions), and, knock on wood, am not covered head to foot with painful boils. Not a one, in fact.
Yup, it can always be worse, but for 15 days following being rear-ended on the 405 on the way to my mother-in-law’s 86th birthday party with most of my family in the car, I’ve dealt with: a sore neck; the driver who hit us having no insurance; my insurance company totally blowing it until my righteous anger got a supervisor to step in and make everything pretty good (the first clue I got that they were totaling my wife’s Prius was when I received an email form demanding I sign title over to them — no other info); a local car rental agency that tried twice (so far) to screw me; getting a $64 ticket on said rental car because at one point I had four cars to juggle and couldn’t remember what side of the street I was parked on; an undetected short nail in the tire of my Prius, which my wife was driving post-crash, that created a leak and resulted in her backing up into a narrow space to pump it up and taking out my right door panel in the process; two separate cases of credit card fraud which again called upon summoning my righteous anger; and to top it off the despised (by me) LeBron James hits a buzzer beater to keep his team from the certain ruin they righteously deserve.
I’m with ya, Job.
But while I did also have to take a stressful driver’s test for DMV (unrelated to the rear-ending) during these 15 Days of Duress, my first since I was 17, I did pass it, and now you, dear reader, can benefit from my experience.
One sober note, first. Though our collision was at low speed it could have been much worse, and we all have been reminding ourselves that checking for sore backs and necks is a lot better than keeping vigil in a hospital room or mortuary.
Do you know what an Advance Health Care Directive is? It’s something everyone should fill out. Yes, even you, teenage person. It details how you would choose your medical treatment if you are unable to do so yourself (say, you’re in a coma), and lets you designate someone to legally make those decisions. (Must be notarized – try your bank.) You can find it online. Some are pretty straight forward, others provide paragraphs to let you express yourself about your loved ones and your own sweet life. An interesting exercise, perhaps a bit daunting, but it’s eat-your-veggies-but-don’t-be-one important.
THE TEST! As I wrote last week, failing the vision test at DMV (which I always will, due to an old injury) triggered my having to take a driving test, but the test is the same if it’s your first one.
I thought I was ready. Coached myself to always look over my shoulder when switching lanes, always come to a complete (not a California) stop, drive just under the speed limit (too slow will get you marked down too), and to hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2 (turns out my tester wasn’t strict on that).
So with that kind of mental preparation and focus and decades of experience, how did I get 13 bad marks? DMV don’t mess around, y’all. I thought I looked over my shoulder every time but my tester said, “Well, maybe 95 percent of the time.” What?! So, whip your head around and check and double-check everywhere (not just in your mirrors) before you change lanes.
Also, when she’d tell me to turn right at the corner, I started overcompensating by putting on my turn signal too soon. That can confuse the driver behind you who thinks you’ll be turning into some driveway, before the corner, she said. Remember, if there’s a bike lane you have to turn INTO it before that right turn, don’t just cut across it.
The most marks off? For stopping too close to the car ahead of me. You have to be able to see the bottom of their back tires. Always leave enough room behind the car ahead, moving or stopped.
And the dreaded “Critical Driving Error” box? Do any of these and you fail: “intervention by examiner; strikes object/curb; disobeys traffic sign/signal; disobeys safety personnel/vehicles; dangerous maneuver; speed; auxiliary equipment use; lane violation.”
If you’d like to see a copy of the score sheet, of all the testing categories, which I couldn’t find online, write me.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Baby you can drive my car… beep beep’m beep beep yeah.” —Lennon-McCartney
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com.