"A meek endeavor to the triumph" by Sampath Jayarathna

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Texas Driver - Cheers sam!

After desperate 3rd attempt, finally I got my Drivers License from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) San Marcos, Texas. In my whole 27yers of short lifetime, I never failed an exam more than once, but see what happened; here the local DPS lady examiners failed me twice (actually 3 times but 1st fail b'se of the inspection tag expiration of the vehicle I took for the test). Lots of my friends advised me not to go for San Marcos DPS, b'se the lady examiners are too picky on the driving test. But there was no option than the San Marcos, it's the nearest! If I went to Seguin (40miles from San Marcos) or New Braunfels (20 miles from San Marcos) DPS, there was a fair amount of chance of getting it done so soon. But it was almost impossible; I didn't have a vehicle, still the same :) and had to ask my friends to come with me for the driving test.
I still remember how was my first driving test at Sri Lanka. It was nothing actually. I was the first of the raw at that day. And the examiner asked few maneuvers like backing on a small road rise (just to check the cluck balance I guess), then he asked to get on to the road (I still remember the place, it was the front road of the Sri John Kothalawala college Krunegala) after 20 meters he asked me to get off the van and that's all about my driving test experience. I still think I'm a good driver according to the conditions at Sri Lanka. I used to drive when I was almost 13 years of age. My father was an Inspector of Police and no problem on driving underage (that's how the Asia) In my whole driving experience only one major accident and that also not because of my fault.
Here at Texas State the situation is totally strange. Actually I took it so easy and didn't care about the test. But when I think about it again, its bit of a tough job, what we need is some practice and techniques. Examiners test all the maneuvers listed on the driving test leaflet. For my first test (May 14th) I took Mr. AL's car it's a Toyota corolla (AL Nanji). His wife Shenise was there to take me to the test. At the time of the vehicle inspection, the examiner said the inspection tag was expired. Here at USA, vehicle must have registration tag as well as an inspection tag that is to verify the vehicle condition is suited for the road (like emissions tests, signal lights, break, windscreen etc). So they asked me to bring another vehicle or bring the same with new inspection tag. That's my first fail. Next day (May 15th) I took Mr. AL's other vehicle, it's a Honda van. It was much more comfortable to drive b'se I used to drive a Nissan Serena van at Sri Lanka. If you wanna look at the test leaflet here it is.
I'll just explain the testing situation for the driving test at San Marcos. First the examiner asked to bring the van to the back of the DPS office in order to check the inspection , registration and insurance. Then she checked the signals, and the break lights. Then she sat beside me and explained the testing procedure. Normally they asked to start the vehicle and when we feel comfortable we can run it. Then the parallel parking, the hardest maneuver of all. We have to park the vehicle between two posts. If success then we have to move to the next testing place, backing on a straight line. Then the road test. It's a one-way road with 3 lanes. The examiner asked me to bring the vehicle to the left most lane, and I started signaling and try to make the lane change, see how unlucky I was at that time, there were 5 or 6 vehicles on the lanes one just behind my back. I hesitate to do so, and stayed at the same right most lane. Then the examiner asked to right turn on the next intersection and bring it back to DPS office. Then she said I failed the test b'se not following the instructions. Then she explained what I did wrong. Lots of errors in signaling. Especially at the parallel parking, moving, lane change we have to make sure to signal. So I missed lots of points due to that and failed the exam not following the instructions.

Then I went for my 3rd attempt on the same vehicle on May 17th. The same lady examiner was there and asked me to bring the vehicle to back for inspection but when I went, there was a different lady examiner to test me (I'll explain why this happened later) She took me for the driving test and this time I was extra cautious on the signaling, and managed to go over whole testing route. After we came back to DPS she explained the situation and errors I made. I lost almost 41 points. Further I went for the test around 3.00pm without making any appointments, she said next time I needs to come early to make an appointment. If we lost greater than 30 points then we fail the driving test. For each maneuvers they check for Control, observation, position and signaling. Say parallel parking, they check all 4 whether it's bad, fair or good. If bad, then we get minus points. Here's the actual testing leaflet marked by the examiner.
I was frustrated and that was my 3rd time and the examiner said I have only one chance for the driving test, otherwise I have to retake the written computer based test again and needs to pay $25 application fee.

I went again for the test, this time early in the morning around 8.15am to the DPS San Marcos Office. Same lady examiner was there and surprisingly she refused to go with me for the test. Believe me, she refused to test me. Can you guess why? she said on my 2nd attempt I didn't respond due to the lack of understanding of what she told me. She said between us, the communication is difficult and asked me to take the other lady examiner for the test. For my bad, that examiner was off that day (May 22nd) and I have to wait till next day for the test. Then there was another problem of finding someone to come with me for the test, b'se Mr. AL was on summer break on May 23rd he went to Washington for a break. I was so worried, me and Nim on desperate situation on finding someone for the driving test. We contact sunny, one of Nims friend and he agreed to come with us. And also we contact Terry from Texas Watch (Nims office coordinator) and finally we decided to go with Terry b'se she agreed to come early in the morning. She was having a Honda CR-V and that was the first time I drove a small SUV, though I feel comfortable with it. We went for the test around 8.00am on May 23rd. I got the appointment at 9.00am. Same lady examiner on my last test was there for the test and you know what she mentioned at the time of the test? She said that's my last chance and if I apply for an instruction permit now before doing the test, even if I failed the test I don't have to re-sit for the written test and I can do the driving test as long as 2 years with that permit. It was kind of a challenge. I asked her whether its possible to do the driving test today if I get my instruction permit now. Then she said NO; I have to wait another 72hrs for a driving test. 72 hrs??? Again, No way, I said to my self. Then I told the examiner that I want to try this time. Here the test leaflet for my final test,
Who knows, I did well on the test. I got 16 negative points, compared to previous 41 points, its nothing. Actually the examiner was impressed and she said I did a good job. Finally I got my license to drive at Texas. Thanx Nim for ur continues encouragement, and also I wanna thank Mr. AL and Terry Wedland for helping me out for my driving test.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

First ever 'A' grade at US

My end term started last week, 2 exams from my 3 subjects already ended. One to go. I'm pleased with my performance at the Math 5358. Its good to have, 'A' grade for first ever exam at USA. Here exam results are extremely difficulty to obtain not like in Sri Lanka. The grading is so stupid, I don't know why. We need to get 91 to obtain A grade and 81 to obtain B grade. Nothing in between A and B. But when I was there at University of Peradeniya, we had lots of grading stars at A+ to F.......A+, A, B+, B, B-, C+, C. And also its not a problem to get A for a subject. If we can stay at the top of the class or at least top 5 or 6 then there is no problem with getting A+ for it. The bell curve will decide who gets A+ and who gets F. At least lots of people will get B+ which is 3.3 in the GPA points. Here the same GPA points for A , which is 4.0 and B 3.0. This makes kind of a hard to stay at least at 3.0 margin. Hope my A grade will do help for it. B'se I'm not sure about my other 2 exams. The final grades are yet to release. One good thing is, now I know how to tackle this system. My target is next Fall semester. A's for all the subjects and 4.0 GPA. We'll see. Hurrah for my First Ever 'A' at Texas State University.