Yesterday was 4th August. Duh. So? It was the day of my highly-anticipated, much-talked-about driving test. It was yet another attempt to own the priziest of all prizes – a driving license in Dubai! And what an experience I had!
My test time was scheduled for 10am. I got there 20 min before time. Stood patiently in the queue to register myself. Within a few minutes, my driving permit was submitted. Now, all I needed to do was wait for them to call out my name. And, wait I did. Hundreds of names were called out, driving permits returned, tests given, licenses issued or declined but there was no sign of a certain name I was waiting to hear.
I decided that’s it. What the fuck is happening? Why is my name not being announced? I walk up to the registration counter and find my driving permit stacked with several others. I think to myself, “OK, they delayed the registration I guess. But atleast it’s done. They’ll call out my name anytime now”.
So, waiting game – the next level. In the meanwhile, I try to socialize….with the cashier! He looked Indian that’s why. I walk up to the guy and smile. It usually works wonders. After a harmless discussion about the weather and traffic, I casually pop out what was really on my mind, “Tell me something…when the registration takes so long, what’s the reason behind it?”. Quickly, he replied, “Maybe your appointment was not confirmed!”. Huh? “But my date and time was given by you guys”. I think the cashier sensed what was I getting onto. “But if you got your permit back, then it is confirmed”. He even smiled. Reassurance.
Still no sign. I noticed a few guys who had been waiting all morning. I walk up to another Indian dude in a suit (It even rhymes! This is crazy). His test was scheduled for 8.30am. We smile at each other, secretly refueling our tanks of patience and determination.
OK. This has ridiculous. I’ve been waiting for close to 5 hours now. A more determined walk to the registration counter, tough stares and a few hard questions later, this is what that Arab guy tells me, “If no my signature on your permit, then no appointment today”. I didn’t like the sound of that. Signature? I knew what he was talking about. I had noticed that while standing in the queue earlier. My permit had no signature. I ask him why. He says I was not on time. I explain I was on time and have been here for 5 hours now. He replies, “Sorry, go take another appointment”. And immediately looks away. Hello?
What the fuck! I’ve been here all morning and they say I don’t have a fucking appointment. I was not alone. 15 of us. Agitation. Angers flare up. More arguments. I decided to stay put and flow with the tide. And, best of all, no one is ready to explain or help. Absolutely no one.
One kind soul finally takes notice. He collected our permits again. In the midst of chaos, made a few phone calls and informed us that we will not be having our tests today. More agitation. But but but he will try and get us a new appointment at the next available date. Crap. As far as I know, there is a mandatory gap of 30 days before a new slot is selected.
My name is finally called out. I am given 2 options: 7th August or 10th August? Surprised, but in less than a micro-second, I shoot back, “7th”.
I am back to work, dozens of emails waiting in my inbox, precious money spent on taxi, hungry and thirsty, back and legs paining and frustrated beyond belief! After settling down at my table, I try and recollect the happenings of the day. I am shocked. A quick glance at my driving permit lying on my desk and my eyes stop at this sentence: Emirates Driving Institute: Proud to be professional
All I could muster up is a smile.