Old McDonald had a Car ( Day 5 )

Woman driving a car. illustration for Old McDonald post about doing my driving test.
In my Dreams

The challenge for Day 5

Today’s 500Words Challenge( Jeff Goins ) is to write about a day you will never forget. Everyone has loads of those days that stick out in the memory for one reason or another.  I went for the day I attempted the driving test for the second time. Most of it is true to the original event, though I changed a few small details. Here it is, Old McDonald…


Old McDonald had A Car

Just an hour to go. I’m sitting in my car, the little orange Punto, waiting. And breathing. Calmly. In through the nose, out through the mouth. My heart doesn’t seem to have got the message, though. It’s still hammering at a scary pace.

There’s a tap on the window, it’s my driving instructor. Number six in line for that title. Kenny pops open the door and slides into the passenger seat.

” Well, how are you today? All set?”

My throat feels like it’s tightening and I gasp out ” Yeah, I’m fine.”

” Are you sure you want to do the pre-test? Maybe you’d be better off just relaxing before-”

” I want to do it.” My voice sounds like I’ve cotton wool in my mouth.

Kenny raises his eyebrows.

“Okay then, you seem determined. Let’s get going.”

There are a few different routes you can take in Naas and he reckons that I’ll get the one straight up the town.  That means no pokey estates. Good.

” They usually bring you that route when it’s school closing time. Otherwise, they won’t get the test done in time.

I don’t answer, I’m too busy focusing on the road. And the mantra. I am a good, careful driver. It’s plastered all over my bedroom on bright yellow sticky notes.

 I keep my mouth firmly shut and my eyes on the traffic. It’s nearly three o’clock and it’s building up now. I am a good, careful driver, I am a good, careful driver.

We drive along in silence until I’m pulling into the Test Centre.

” Well, that was interesting. I’ve never seen you so calm. Are you taking something?”

That makes me laugh out loud. I explain about the Patricia Cleghorn book, ” Secrets of Self-Esteem”, and how it’s helping me get through this.

” I know the three guys on today. As long as you don’t get Old McDonald, you’ll be grand. He’s a right bloody stickler.”

He wishes me luck as I’m heading into the Test Centre.

God, it still looks exactly the same, cramped and bare. A table and two chairs opposite each other. It’s like those police questioning rooms you see on Real Life Crime programmes. I remember getting caught out last time by that red-headed guy, the one that looked like he was just out of school. I didn’t know it at the time, but I might as well have gone home at that stage.

This man is older, his hair is speckled grey. He pauses for a moment between each question.  I rattle off the answers like a Pro. We walk over to my car and this time I make sure to unlock it. Try not to think about staring contest with red-haired guy. The examiner sits into the car, clipboard in hand and puts on his seat belt. Breathe. Breathe. I start the car and wait for my instructions.

“On exiting the car park, take the first left.”

Luckily the lights at the top of the hill are red, so there’s no traffic blocking my exit onto the main road.

” Now, take the first right into the estate.”

Surely he’s going to direct me to the traffic lights on Main Street next? But no, we travel through a maze of tiny streets. Left, right, straight ahead. Three-point turn. Reverse around a corner. At the end of all that, the tester’s pen is still in place. Surely that’s a good sign.

” Take the next right-”

Suddenly a lorry pulls out, blocking my way. I am a good, careful driver. I let the lorry complete its’ maneuver. The tester sighs. Still no squiggly marks on my score sheet, though.  I take a deep breath and notice that my heart has stopped thudding.

The tester directs me back towards town where the traffic is quite heavy. Still, that’s working in my favour, it’s ticking down the clock. Nearly there. Just the journey back to the Centre now. I’m following behind an old, rusty Mazda and, without warning, it stops dead on the road. Break and Clutch.  An old man pops his head out of the Mazda window, fixes his tweed cap and lights a cigarette. Then stares intently at a green slatted fence in front of a dilapidated stone cottage. The tester breaks the silence.

” You meet all sorts.”

He’s shaking his head, but there’s a smile forming on the edges of his mouth. And his pen is still stuck onto the clipboard. I put on the indicator, overtake the Mazda and head back to the Centre. Inside, the tester hands me my score sheet and it’s as clean as the first moment I saw it.

“Congratulations, you’ve passed.”

” Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I blubber the words out.

He smiles and strolls back inside for his next client.

I glance at the sheet, looking for the signature. And there it is, in neat, careful handwriting.

Thomas McDonald.


Part of my Ireland series, as a result of Three Questions Post.

Photo by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash









  • Allison

    What an engaging retelling! So many questions, which from opinion, is what a good story always does. Why were you so nervous? Was it just failing the first time? Or was it something else entirely? You portray the nervousness so vividly! And I LOVE Old McDonald’s line “You meet all sorts.” So layered! Really enjoyed this read, Bernie 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks a million, Allison and I LOVE that you enjoyed the story. The reasons behind the fear, yes that’s a good question, and one I hope to tackle in the future. I really appreciate your interest and support. xx

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