When you apply for a job as ambulance personnel for the LAS, one of the things that they look for is that you are a competent driver. Therefore as part of the interview process they throw you into the most run-down, barely working 14 seater lump of crap they can find, and tell you to drive around Earls Court. For those not from London, Earls Court is a congested area with fairly small streets, constant roadworks and the sort of people who think it is amusing to leap out in front of a scared looking interviewees on their driving assessment.
Before you see a vehicle you are given a piece of paper that tells you what the assessor is looking for, the crossing over of hands when steering is a big no-no, as is over- confidence – along with under-confidence, speeding, going too slow, incorrect use of gears, incorrect use of signaling and a myriad of other things you haven't worried about since you passed your driving test as a teenager.
When I first went for my driving assessment I noticed the 'overconfidence' bit, so I thought I'd be sure not to come across as too aggressive a driver – so I was a model gentleman, I let people out of side turnings, allowed pedestrians to cross in front of me and didn't hassle people who were driving too slow.
I failed my assessment for being under-confident. 'Come back in three months' I was told.
Three months later and I was determined not to make the same mistake (an additional three months stuck in A&E nursing will make you ever so slightly determined). So I got into the worst piece of crap in the fleet, and off we went. Leaving the yard I hit a kerb, about 200 yards down the road I did the same thing. 'Turn around and go back' I was told – so I slunk back to the yard and vowed to do better in another three months.
Three months later, and I thought – Sod it! Lets drive how I normally drive. So I crossed my hands turning the wheel, sped up to stop signals, refused to let anyone out of a side road and drove as if I were driving my 1.0L Ford Fiesta.
And I passed. Needless to say I was more than happy, and fairly skipped out of the yard that morning.
Of course this double failure didn't help my confidence when it came to the driving part of my training course.