“Un Grand Jour Pour Monsieur Leedy!”

Vicky, I have the Champagne chilling. Should we make dinner reservations tonight at Taillevent??

It is a big day today in the life of Monsieur Leedy: I passed the code test! This is the written part of the French driving test. I am grinning from ear to ear…

There were seven of us in our group (Fehrenbach Driving School) taking the test this morning; three out of the seven passed. You must get 35 correct responses out of 40. Multiple choice. But that is FRENCH multiple choice (which means more than one possible answer so that everyone can have an interesting argument over dinner.)

I was so excited that I later asked my instructor who was waiting for us outside to re-check my dossier to confirm that I passed. I wasn’t really sure when the fonctionnaire gave me the results – she just faintly smiled and said, “oui.” I am not sure how many I missed – they only give you that number when you fail but I am sure it was pretty close to five – the maximum allowed. In fact, I was pretty certain I had failed the test. There is a translator present who translates each question into English. Another translator was translating into a language I couldn’t recognize but judging by the students, I believe it was some sort of Indonesian language. The guy translating into English was the same guy from last time and he was not very good. The first question asked about a draw bridge symbol. One of the responses involved the French word, berge which I selected as one of several responses. The translator was obviously stuck on the phrase so he shrugged his shoulders, shook his head and after a few moments translated it as “a river crossing.” I couldn’t rule it out and I knew it didn’t translate as “barge”, so I chose it as one of three responses. I later learned the actual translation is “bank” or “embankment” which made it an incorrect response. I was absolutely positive the other two were correct and had I failed by one question (6 wrong), I would have wrung that translator’s neck! I am glad I understood most of the French and probably could have taken the test without him. He kept saying, “I’m sorry,” and I thought it was rather strange behavior on his part until I realized he was actually saying, “answer ‘A’ .” And I won’t even attempt to tell you how he translated “fire extinguisher”…

There were several other driving schools and it looked as though the majority of the students failed. There were 30 people or more (non-French-speaking foreigners) taking the test.

As many of you know, I failed it the first time around back in May. I missed seven – two over the allotment. An American guy was the only one out of ten of us to pass. He was beside himself with joy. When he asked me how many I missed, he comforted me by saying, “Seven? That’s pretty good for your first time – this is my fifth time taking the test!”

I have been very stressed over this thing. Maybe I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t imagine having to wait again until September to re-take the test. I have been going to class two hours- pretty much everyday – for over a week. We take practice tests in class and my track record for the past week is not very self assuring…This morning I was up a 5 am studying my code book. At 8 am, I was in the driving school reviewing with the instructor and by 10 am, I was at the site for the driving test.

The driving instructor warned me that I had passed the “easy part”. Next comes the actual driving test on September 24th. Between now and then, I will spend 4 – 6 hours practice driving with the instructor. I have many “bad French driving habits” and I will need to relearn a lot of new tricks.

I guess you will be able to call me “an old dog behind the wheel.”

For all of you Americans, be thankful that your driving tests are designed for idiots. Things like differentiating between a circle and a square, recognizing a stop sign, understanding what a steering wheel is, or knowing that after sixteen beers your ability to drive a car is a little bit impaired. At least – that’s the way it is in Florida. But Floridians be warned: I understand The Department Of Highway Safety is considering the addition of a new term on the driving test: “How many chads do you receive for a moving violation?”

Cheers to all. Send congratulation letters, cards and gifts to:

Robert Leedy
191, rue de l’ Universite
75007 Paris

Many of you have asked, “How can a driving test be so difficult?” It’s difficult to explain. You have to see it to believe it. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, I don’t know…

If you would like to take a similar test (it’s in French), go here: http://www.code-enligne.com/index.php

Click on “tests”. Next click on “démo-test”.

Then click on “serie demo”. Wait about 15 seconds for it to load. You will need Real Audio to take the test (it will configure automatically). In the lower right-hand corner, where you see the red remote control thingy, you click on the corresponding letters with the mouse and then push the green “valid” button; if you want to correct your response BEFORE clicking “valid”, click the red “corr” button and then click on your intended response(s) and then push the green “valid” button again. Some questions have two parts; select ALL of the correct responses BEFORE pushing the green button. You must answer within 15 seconds, otherwise you will automatically miss the question. Once you push the green valid button, the responses are recorded and the correct response(s) appear in green; to continue on to the next question, you must push the green valid button again.

The test will pause after 10 questions to tell you how many you have missed. You will need to push “continuer” to go on to the next 10 questions.

This demo test consists of 20 questions instead of the official 40. Since you are allowed only 5 incorrect answers on the real test, you can only miss 2.5 questions on this test. I will be a nice guy and allow you 3 wrong answers. Remember, you can have more than one answer on a French multiple choice test – but you will never have a situation where all possible responses are correct. One or more will always be a WRONG answer.

Bonne chance, mes amis!

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