Get your kicks on Route 66

I drove 2,761 miles from Miami to Los Angeles, without incident or injury or infraction. But that fun fact doesn’t matter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, because they still made me take a written test to get my driver’s license.


I arrived at the DMV and took my seat next to a seventeen year old with a uni-brow as wide as his braces-filled smile and a woman who was the spitting image of Rihanna, complete with a serious case of bitchy resting face and a pair of oversize Chanel sunglasses.

Who knows? Maybe it was her. The DMV is the universal equalizer in that everyone, no matter who they are, waits.

While I waited, I read through the driver’s handbook. Well, more like flipped through it in disgust, like it was a magazine recovered from the office of that dentist that killed Cecil the lion.

Page after page of diagrams and traffic signs, but zero information on what to do when the asphalt starts to melt while you’re driving through the desert under an unforgiving sun. There was also nothing in there about how to pee on the side of the road when you’re in a two-hour traffic jam under a torrential downpour. And absolutely no information on the legality of driving without pants as long as you have sensible underwear on.

So, I jotted down some sample test questions in the hopes that the DMV would consider including these in the next issue of the California Driving Handbook. They are as follow:

  1. Who should have ultimate control of the car radio?
    1. The Driver
    2. The Passenger
    3. None of the above because you have satellite radio and the mountains will block the signal
  2. When changing lanes…
    1. Don’t
    2. If you do, you’ll die
    3. Close your eyes and wish for the best
  3. The best way to learn how to drive in the state of California is to…
    1. Rent a Toyota Yaris and floor it to 30 mph on the 405 Freeway
    2. Drive from Huntington Beach to San Francisco up the Pacific Coast Highway
    3. Park your car in front of a wall and stare at said wall for two hours
  4. Upon hearing that a bridge has collapsed and has caused the shutdown of all east- and west-bound traffic on I-10, you should…
    1. Cry just enough to release some tension
    2. Join the Mexican family for dinner, who have set up a folding table and chairs in the middle of the Interstate
    3. Relieve yourself inside your car by carefully aiming your urine into the dog’s portable food bowl
    4. Make a 14-point turn and drive in the wrong direction on the shoulder of I-10 until you are able to cut across three lanes of stalled traffic and a muddy median.

Before I got any further in my DMV brainstorm, my number was called. I took my test and passed with flying colors despite my lack of interest in the subject matter. A huge accomplishment that the 37-year-old-me got to rub in the face of the 15-year-old-me who failed the written test 3 times back in Florida.

Instead of gloating all the way to the photo backdrop, I wish I would’ve paid attention to what I looked like before I posed. In California, they don’t immediately give you your license, but I did take a peak of the photo…and it’s a doozy. Until it arrives in the mail, you’ll just have to take my word for it with this very accurate recreation:


And if you’ve ever wondered what you’ll see when driving cross country, these are a few of my favorites:

Published by Mari

I was born with a widow's peak and a thick accent. I majored in English as a second language. I work ( and travel ( and sometimes do both.

One thought on “Get your kicks on Route 66

  1. I loved your transcontinental adventure. Hopefully you’ll do it all over again when you come back to see your friends in Miami…or perhaps you may decide to forget Miami ever existed, which is probably easy to do when living in California. If you do come back, I hope you’ll hide your Mexican accent.

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