Friday, February 24, 2006

Three for Three

I received a memo that there was pizza for lunch. I already knew they had pizza on the menu at the cantina. NO- they ordered pizza for lunch. I asked a coworker what the occasion was and he acted like I should know. I was perplexed. They had a little lunch party to celebrate that I had a permanent job. I was completely surprised. I was cornered into giving a little speech, which I devoted to a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been so cool in making job go so smoothly- especially considering the circumstances. I later found out that several other trial employees in the past never made the cut.

Lunch put me a little behind schedule to making it to the bank. I was to pick up a new Visa Gold card, which is an official form of ID. Our Norwegian bank would not give us one when we tried to add me to Lise's account, so I have a simple cash card. This is a huge problem, since I cannot use it for parking, as an airport ID, or for traveling abroad. I didn't have any trouble getting the ID. They took my photo and will send it in the mail.

I had to hurry to the driving school, which was also downtown. My instructor was ready to go when I arrived. As we drove to the government driving office, I asked him if he ever lived abroad, citing he spoke perfect English (with a very British accent). He told my he attended university at Cambridge. He went on to describe how he was also a psychologist who did HMS consulting for oil companies (stands for health, environment, and safety, in Norwegian). He also teaches bus driving and semi driving. Anyway, we went over the oral portion of the test- the mechanical questions. It was a little tricky getting around the language, but we sorted it all out.

I went inside, and we cut in line, as instructors can do. I took care of paying off the extortion, then we waited in the staging area, where a bunch of 18 year old girls were waiting to take their tests. When I saw my tester, it was a bit freaky, since he was in a full fancy uniform. He hopped in the passenger seat and asked me an arcane question about how do you test the master cylinder of the brakes to see if it works. I answered that if you pump up the brakes before you start the car, then start the engine, you can feel it in the pedal if it is working. It was a good enough answer. Then we had the scripted ride. By scripted, I mean he had one of twenty routes, and I needed to follow that and exactly that route. If I missed a turn, I would not be penalized, but would have to turn around and get back on track.

I drove as I normally would, one hand on the wheel. My signalling was minimal through the roundabouts, as that seems to be acceptable. I didn't see him write anything down the entire ride. We stayed on roads that were familiar to me, which was nice given the yield to the right rule- which is pure insanity- since you need to just sort of know what roads the rule applies to. Eventually I could feel that we worked our way back to the testing station. He asked how I thought I did- in a very scripted manner. I told him I probably could have shifted more smoothly. I should mention this was a 6-speed Mercedes with a very strange gear ratio- very different than our BMW that I have adjusted to. Anyway, he had marked nothing off and I passed. I didn't have any major concerns, but the way some people build these things up, you never know what to expect. This is compounded by being a foreigner in a foreign country. We took photos, and I will have a lifetime license within a week.

We drove back to the driving school, and I could return the calls from my cell phone that kept ringing through the test. I swung by to pick Lise up at work, then we drove to the airport to pick up a friend who will be staying with us for a week. This has been a great week. Tonight we need to find a way to celebrate. I'm guess it won't be too difficult. I also don't think my license will receive much use tonight.

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