“Are you sure this is the right place?” my dad asked me as we parked outside our (relatively) local DriveTest Centre.
“It…has to be. The address is correct,” I answered. But, as I said that, I had to stare wide-eyed at the crappy little office that brandished an old plexiglass box sign saying “DriveTest” on it. What’s worse was that this office was stuck in a run-down plaza, right beside an empty store which said “FOR LEASE”. Em. Okay. The only reason I gave this dive any credit at all was the fact that they printed, in letters so tiny they were almost invisible, “Licensed by Ontario,” on their ugly sign box.
Upon walking in, I was greeted by passing glances from…probably a good 50 people, who were either standing, sitting on benches, or hunched on the floor — all of them waiting to complete a test today. I pondered whether I would be lucky enough to get my G1 within the one hour that their website suggested as I approached the guy manning the “WRITTEN TEST” desk. He sent me to the “Help Desk” to apply first.
Help Desk? Registration? Who does registration at help desks anyways? Weren’t such places reserved for people with questions? My mind spun at the DriveTest’s odd organization as I joined the lengthy line for help. I stared at the drab gray walls. I stared at the LCD screens broadcasting ads for driver education programs. I glanced at the bored faces of those waiting to complete their tests (that is, if they weren’t looking at me). Rinse and repeat for fifteen minutes. Needless to say, despite the fact that there were enough young people in the room to throw a huge party, it was not an exciting place to be.
It is not a good thing to feel dread when you’re waiting in line at a government office. In fact, it is never a good thing to feel dread. But that was what I was feeling as the line inched forward. People did not look happy after being served at the desk. I was hoping that it was just bad customer service, but deep inside, I knew it was something worse.
It was finally my time. I approached the girl at the desk with apprehension. Her blue polo shirt, coupled with the speckled gray wall behind her, reminded me of a shady car rental place.
“Hi, I’d like to do my G1 written test today.”
She smiled at me in a way that suggested she was not going to give me good news. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid we’re completely full today. You can come back another day though — we’re open 8:30 to 5 Mondays to Saturdays.”
“Ah. Okay then. Thank you,” I told her with a smile, hiding the annoyance that was already beginning to bloom. I had been so anxious to write this, to get it out of the way so that I could stop thinking about how many days your license would be suspended if you did X or how much you had to pay if you did Y. I was excited to have this milestone completed today, but in one fell swoop, this girl punished me with sudden disappointment…and another day of memorizing useless facts. My only crime? Coming two and a half hours before their closing time.
You have to wonder — why did they not post a sign at the door informing the public that they were already full, so that people wouldn’t have to wait in vain at the Help Desk? I felt particularly sorry for the father and daughter who were waiting in front of me — I saw them waiting for a bus home as my dad and I were driving away. Basically, they paid $10 ($2.50 per one way trip for an adult) to get to a DriveTest centre, only to accomplish nothing.
I’m planning to go to this dive of a government office again tomorrow — and as a safety precaution, I’m going to go six hours before their closing time, so that there is no way they can kick me out this time.