Life – Not A Bowl Of Cherries

fedupI’ve had one of those days that has nearly reduced me to tears. And because I haven’t had an outburst of uncontrolled sobbing into the crook of my elbow on my desk, every time I think of today I get that jerky lump in my chest and throat that reminds me, at any time, I could burst into tears.

I’ve been pretty quiet about this but I’ve been doing lessons in order to complete my motorbike licence. I did the CBT and the upgrade to a 500cc bike and I’ve been taking hourly lessons while waiting 3 weeks for today to take my theory test. It costs £30 to do the test and the waiting time is horrendous because there aren’t many test centres around. Either way mine was today and I’d swotted up, watched the dvd they sent me and even passed the two online practice tests.

My test was at 13:30 and was in Ipswich so to make sure I didn’t end up in a panicky rush I left work at 12:30 and stopped at Asda to get some money out to pay for the car park I was going to have to use across the road from the test centre. After all, it’s a government agency and they sure aren’t going to provide you with parking spaces. At Asda I drew out £10 but then had to go into the store to buy something small and menial in order to get the change I’d need to pay for my parking at the machine. The queue at the fag counter where I could have bought a pack of gum was about 20 people long so I grabbed something off the nearest shelf, which happend to be a box of cherries and walked to the self checkout, paid with my £10 note and got a load of pound coins in change.

In Ipswich despite long traffic queues I arrived at the test centre at 1pm – 15 minutes earlier than the 15 minutes early they’d asked me to arrive. I was 30 minutes early. The bloke on reception crossed my name off a list and said ‘Can you come back in 5 minutes because they’re all still at lunch’. I looked around me at the tiny reception with no waiting area and looked back at him. ‘Where would you like me to go for 5 minutes?’ I smiled. ‘Just stand outside or something’ he replied. Bemused, I walked outside and found a bench about 30 yards away from the building where I sat people watching the staff leaving the large office building for lunchtime in town. Eventually a smelly drunk parked himself on the bench opposite and began rolling a fag whilst guarding his beer carefully as the wind tried to dump it on the floor. Not wishing to get caught up in a drunken conversation that would probably result in my being an arsehole (sober) whatever I did, I began thinking of ways I could move, without being glaringly obvious that I was moving just because he’d arrived. And just at that point the reception man appeared at the entrance to the building and beaconed me in. At the counter in the test room I walked up to the old bloke whom I thought ought to be in retirement by now and told him my name. He prompted me for my licence. For those non-brits here – We have the most fucked up system of driving licence available. Years ago you only had a green piece of paper which had your name/address and the numbers of what you were qualified to drive listed on it along with a big grid that would be filled in with the details of any points/penalties you got. Some time ago they decided to introduce a plastic photo card with your name/address and photo on it. But you only got one if you made any changes on your licence, such as the address or you asked and paid for one which means many people still have just a single piece of paper for their licence. HOWEVER, just because you have a photocard does not render the old style piece of paper void. NO – WHY CHOOSE ONE OVER THE OTHER WHEN YOU CAN FORCE PEOPLE TO KEEP UP WITH TWO DOCUMENTS?. The photo card AND the paper make up your licence, and let me reiterate here – the paper part is the same as the paper was before you had the photocard with it. Same colour, same style, same info. And this was when the utter bastard of a day began. Because I couldn’t find my photocard, I brought along my paper licence half, passport, letter with my address on it and my County Council ID badge and all the old bastard could say was ‘can I have your photocard?’. “I’m sorry”, I replied, “I’ve misplaced it but I read that if you had the old style licence your passport would suffice, so I’ve brought my passport”. “Can’t accept it” he replied curtly. “But you can accept it if I didn’t have a photocard licence?”, “yes, but you do, so I need to see it”. I stood there staring at him in disbelief. This arrogant bastard whose sole purpose in life is to follow the pedantic red tape bureaucracy levelled out by the government and make peoples lives as difficult as hell can’t find it in himself to use some common sense in between it all. I mean I’m in one of those positions too – policing the ridiculous ideals set out by people we don’t know and who know nothing about what we do and I don’t think I’d actually survive a day in my job if I didn’t take a step back sometimes and realise that by adhereing to every scrap of regulation they dish out nothing would ever work. Still staring at him with the look of ‘really?, are you really going to send me away and make me lose £30 + my parking + an hour off work and another 3 weeks because the document that allows me to enter my country and every other country in the world is not good enough to prove that I am ok to sit a poxy motorbike theory test?’ I didn’t say another word and instead, carefully folded my documents up and left before I got the full on rage, grabbed him by the throat and ended up being escorted out by two police officers and levvied a charge for assault. The car park robbed me of £2.70 and I went back to work completely fucked off and unable to think of anything other than the pounding fury in my stomach. I tried calling the test centre to see if they’d reschedule me and transfer my fee but unsurprisingly every time I’ve called they are ‘experiencing high call volumes’ and then promptly cut me off. But not until they’ve kept me waiting on the phone for over a minute while telling me the call is costing at least 3p per minute. One day, this shitty country is going to disappear up it’s own arse – as for me, I’m fucking off to Spain because they grow sodding good cherries.



  1. mrs hojo said

    oh ffs, ticks off another reason why we were right to leave , hope you get a free new appointment. I find emails to someone important are quite effective rather than phonecalls


  2. Vic said

    What an asshole. I had the same problem when I took my theory test but was lucky enough to hit an understanding person at the desk. I can’t believe he didn’t consider all the stuff you brought with you enough.

  3. Foxsden said

    There, that just goes to show the rules are not inflexible.

  4. Sarah said

    I made sure to find both parts of my licence for my theory and practical, because I was so worried about someone doing precisely what they did to you.
    It’s annoying having to take both – it’s not as if one is actually invalid without the other. I’d much prefer to just keep the paper copy safe at home.

  5. foxsden said

    Yeah me too…. I looked all over the place for my plastic card the night before and I just could not find it. The following day when I got in – it popped into my head and I walked straight to the jacket where it was and pulled it out of the pocket.

    Next test is booked for 1/7/09!

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