I didn’t see the telephone pole coming until it slammed into the front of my car. Actually there wasn’t much damage, and it wouldn’t have been so bad except for one minor detail; I had just turned sixteen and was taking the driving exam to get my license. I was trying to impress the test administrator with my amazingly skillful maneuvers while making a U-turn. Somehow the turn wasn’t tight enough, and before I could hit the brake I hit the pole.
The humor of the situation struck me so profoundly that I could barely contain my laughter. Subdued chuckles burst from me every few minutes on the drive back to the Department of Motor Vehicles like geysers at Yosemite National Park. Surely the examiner would write this off as some freak incident recited from Murphy’s Law of Teenage disasters, like waking up on the day of junior prom with a zit bigger than the double-bacon-grease-burger you ate the night before or some other once-in-a-lifetime misfortune.
I kept glancing at the man, searching for any hint of a smile, but all I saw was his hands, white from gripping the seat belt too tightly, and a pained expression on his face that led me to believe he needed a bathroom fast! Being a keenly observant and astute young woman, I surmised that he wanted me to keep my eyes on the road. When we got back to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ parking lot (and after he leapt from the car) I asked him with unabashed expectation if he was going to give me my license. He mustered up a polite smile and told me to come back when I knew how to drive…