Car Blues

Before I acquired a driver’s license here in Palau, I only need to announce that I have a coverage somewhere and somebody from the office has to deliver me where I need to go and pick me up afterwards. The same applies for co-reporter Aurea. But it was not always nice because all the people in the office have their own specific tasks and are very busy that sometimes I had to wait for a long time before I will be picked up.
Our boss keeps on nagging us to get our driver’s licenses so we don’t have to bother anyone with their work.
“This can’t go on forever, all of us are busy so you need to fend for yourselves,” Boss Phillip keeps on telling us.

Au and I passed the driver’s written test in November last year yet but here, you have to take an actual road test with a police officer before you will be issued a driver’s license. That is if you pass the test. If not, you will be required to take a Learner’s Permit good for 60 days which will allow you to drive provided someone who has a driver’s license is with you.

Au took the road test last December and got her driver’s license right away. I chickened out after I backed from the parking space of our barracks (that’s what boarding houses are called here) and accidentally ran over the foot of my officemate who was teaching me to drive. I did not drive again for the following weeks until I felt the necessity.
As soon as I’ve collected enough guts, I took the road test last month (this after two postponements). I was sweating but an officemate told me not to turn on the car aircon so that the examiner will not feel comfortable and hurry on with the exam. Miraculously, I did not drive the car straight to the sea or down a cliff with the huge examining officer sitting next to me and I passed with only two mistakes. I forgot to turn on the signal light when he told me to make a U-turn.

The license gave me absolute freedom because I no longer cower in fear whenever I meet a police car on the streets. Just a couple of weeks ago, the office granted me a car loan and I got a second hand silver Toyota Camry. (which, I discovered, is a big headache because it consumed all my allowance).

The day after I got the car, I went to have my key duplicated in a hardware in Koror and decided just to walk to my next appointment which is just five buildings away. But to be honest, I still had a hard time trying to park and back the car). After finishing my transaction at the National Communications office, I called our office to ask for somebody to pick me up. I sat on a bench waited. It was then when I noticed the key dangling from my shoulder bag strap. I had to make a second call to the office because I forgot I already have a car.

(Published in Sunstar Davao, February 19, 2006 issue)

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