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Ten years after I graduated college, I’m going back to school…

December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM

First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college.  I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that.  I can’t believe that it’s been that long.  Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.

That said, a lot has happened lately.  I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg.  That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think.  I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable.  I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:

Waiting on one of the benches at the MVA in Gaithersburg

I had barely finished posting the photo to Instagram, however, when they called my number up.  By the way, ever have that where they call you up so fast that you’re a little annoyed that you hadn’t waited long enough?  I was hoping to use the wait time to play around on Facebook, the Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit while I waited, and then boom, I’m up.  I was kind of looking forward to the downtime.  But whatever – I got over it.

After they pulled me up in the system, verified my documents, and took a new photo (by the way – if you’re doing a CDL in Maryland, they can’t use your existing driver’s license picture because CDL is a new process), they sent me off to the little room to do the testing.  They were giving me four tests: general knowledge, air brakes, passenger, and school bus.  These tests were all on computer, and I entered my responses on a touchscreen.  Each test required a score of 80% to pass.  I don’t think I’ve been that stressed and that nervous for something in a while.  However, if I didn’t pass the tests, they would not give me my commercial learner’s permit, which wouild mean that, as they would say in Return to Zork, “The path to Victory is now blocked.”  (Cue the Guardian.)  Therefore I read each question slowly and carefully, and considered each answer carefully.  Some answers were obviously wrong, but others were a bit tricky.  Thankfully, the tests were untimed, so I could take all day if I wanted to.  I passed each one with some room to spare (hey, I studied!), and that was that.  One thing I did between each test was to stand up and breathe deeply in order to calm myself down.  These tests all gave you a running tally of your score as you went along, which is an added stressor.  So after each test, I needed to bring myself back to neutral by breathing.  And then when I was done, they put my number back in the queue so that I could pay and be done.

As far as the second wait went, it was again quick, easy, and painless.  I was again expecting to sit down and play on my phone for a while.  Surprise: I had barely sat down when my number was called.  Just as well, because the painful part was over.  Now all I had to do was pay and leave, and that was that.  I just became the proud holder of a Maryland Class B commercial learner’s permit with passenger and school bus endorsements.  That means that I can drive Class B vehicles (except for hazmat and tanker vehicles), as well as carry passengers and schoolchildren, as long as a licensed adult with the proper endorsements is in the front seat with me.  Actually driving one of these vehicles makes me a little nervous right now, but with the proper instruction, I’m sure I’ll do just fine.

Then on Thursday, I went over to Montgomery College‘s continuing education office in Gaithersburg and registered to get that instruction.  I’m taking the CDL Class B course, which will prepare me for the test to get the full Class B CDL with passenger and school bus endorsements.  You may be asking why I got the school bus endorsement when I’m planning to go into transit?  The course provides training for the school bus endorsement along with the passenger endorsement, so I’m viewing it as getting the endorsements that I need, and getting an additional endorsement for free.  Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me.  I start that on January 21, and it runs for two weeks.  I hope to learn quite a bit

So there you have it, I suppose.  I will soon be learning to drive a bus.  I’m nervous about it, but definitely looking forward to it.  Then hopefully a job with a transit agency will be in my future…

Categories: Driving, School, Work