(please refer to part one of this trilogy before reading below)
The theory of the driving test in Japan is much like it is like really LIVING in Japan. You don't do things the way you have done or know is right, but instead, you do it just like they tell you, whether you agree or not. And if you don't agree, you fail.
We showed up a week later for the mandatory $70 practice tests, where we got to get in the car with a Japanese driving instructor, and a gaijin (foreign) translator. Luckily for me (as has been my luck all week), I got to ride with the dopey gaijin, the only male, who, unfortunately, didn't have a kind or encouraging word for me all night. It obviously was very helpful on my self-esteem and confidence for the real test...
The driver's course consists of two routes. You have to memorize and perfect both, as you are told 30 minutes before the real test which one you'll be driving.
The first instructor told my gaijin that I was driving so fast (yes, I know, Mom, it is hard to picture) that he 'was sweating like a pig.' Really, guys, I was CONVINCED I was crawling at snail pace.
The second instructor had no issues at all and I did well. Shocker that my gaijin still had nothing nice to say. At all.
On the way home, my friendies and I went over and over the courses in preparation for the next day's test. We talked and talked and talked and talked until we were blue in the face, and although it might not seem like a big deal, it really, really was. Failing meant humiliation, failure, more costs, days off schools, sub plans to be made, appointments for practices and tests, and more paperwork.
To give you an idea of how traumatic this all was, let me top all of that off with some rumored facts, that were shared with us by coworkers during the weeks leading up to the test:
Only 1 out of every 5 people passes.
Low-cut shirts won't help.
If you bump a curb, you fail.
Our school's average pass rate is 3 tries.
Women don't pass.
Men don't pass.
Old people don't pass.
If you're too young you won't pass.
You won't pass.
Needless to say, when I got home, all of my fingernails were gone (much to the dismay of my second graders, who were banking on me to win a nail-biting contest with the principal) and I had accidentally eaten a whole column of a package of Oreos (much to the dismay of my friend Tera, who wants me to lose an inch off of my waist in order to fit into my bridesmaid dress in March).
It was a rough and sleepless night.