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The man sat fidgeting on the simple and uncomfortable wooden seat, obviously tense and nervous.

He looked at his watch.

Not more than ten minutes before it was his turn.

A table stood in the centre of the floor, atop which, magazines and copies of the Highway Code had been scattered in some random pattern. Perhaps they had ended up like that due to people picking them off a nice, neat orderly pile as they, like him, waited.

He picked up a copy of the Highway Code; his hands trembling as he did.

Thumbing through it, his eyes fell on pictures of road signs, junctions, roundabouts and stopping distances.

He shifted, trying to gain some comfort where he sat, perched on the edge of the bent ply chair, but none came.

He thought about trying to forget the up-coming driving test and lose himself in a three year-old copy of ‘House and Garden’, its corners dog-eared and worn from the hundreds or even thousands of people who had looked through its pages as they passed through that test centre.

He stared instead at the wall with its pictures telling drivers not to drink and drive, or to keep to the speed limits and watch out for children, all winding his nerves tighter than a piano string.

He found it hard to concentrate, to relax and even taking several deep breaths did nothing to calm him.

He looked at his watch again.

Just two minutes had passed since the last time he looked and yet it felt like days. He hated the waiting more than the thought of the test, not knowing whether he would pass or fail nor whether his frayed nerves could take it.

The gentle hum of activity from the office that adjoined the room where he sat proved a temporary distraction as he strained to hear what was making the ladies laugh or what someone was saying to a caller on the telephone.

Again he looked at his watch.

Three minutes down – seven to go.

He took another deep breath and reached for the Highway Code. This time, he tried hard to read the tiny writing surrounding the diagrams and illustrations, but within a few seconds, he became distracted, wondering whether it would change anything.

He shifted his weight from one cheek to the other and crossed his legs.

No good.

He tried sitting back and whilst it afforded some brief respite from his discomfort, it was only brief.

In desperation, he picked up the magazine and started to thumb through the glossy pages, laughing at the kind of property featured within its equally glossy covers. As if the ordinary man or woman in the street could afford such places.

He considered the estate in the pictures before him. An expensively-dressed woman stood in a kitchen whose cabinets alone probably cost nearly as much as he made in a year – two even.

He threw it back on the table, adding yet another dimension of randomness to the scattering of magazines.

He stood up, stretching out the kinks and stiffness before looking once again at his watch.

This time there was no more than a couple of minutes before it was his turn and literally as he thought about it, a woman came into that waiting room.

“Mr. Jenkins?” she said, handing him a clipboard. “Your two-thirty test has arrived.”

 

 


 

 

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