As a result, I was mandated to take both the theoretical and practical driving exams in Hungary if I wished to continue driving here in the long term. I was also told I had exactly one year to fulfil this requirement and that my Canadian license would be considered invalid after 365 days, regardless of its actually date of expiry.
Being the rational and prudent fellow that I am, I responded to this requirement by doing what any rational and prudent person would do in similar circumstances – I decided to delay the whole nightmare until the last possible moment and continue driving in Hungary with my Canadian driver’s license.
When the 365 days were nearly up, I mentioned my driver’s license dilemma to a neighbor, who happens to be a police officer. Following a loud guffaw, my neighbor told me not to worry as no Hungarian cop worth his or her salt would ever bother investigating the 365-day validity of any Hungarian citizen holding a foreign driver’s license.
I interpreted this as both a stroke of luck and a green light, and I surreptitiously pushed back obtaining a Hungarian driver’s license as far as I possibly could. Technically, this means I have been living a criminal life here since 2016, but I have been able to assuage any slight pangs of mild guild and neglected responsibility I have experienced since then by consoling myself with the thought that I am actually a tragic victim a soulless, international bureaucratic technicality.
Victim or not, unfortunately, my gig will soon be up. My Canadian driver’s license expires this summer, and I can only renew it in Canada, which would be both expensive and time-consuming. Thus, after three years of fugitive existence, I have surrendered to authorities here in Hungary and have begun preparing for the theoretical traffic code test as well as the practical driving exam.
Spending an hour or two every day reviewing road signs and driving regulations has been a nostalgic experience. At times, I feel like it’s 1987 again – I am sixteen years old, cramming away at the traffic code, motivated by a strong urge to succeed in what I at the time considered my most important rite of passage. I remember feeling rather anxious and apprehensive during the whole process leading up to test day back then. Oddly enough, I am experiencing similar feelings now despite having more than thirty years of driving experience under my belt.
Of course, at sixteen, my biggest motivating factor for getting a license was the opportunity to take girls out on “real” dates. At forty-seven, my biggest motivating factor is just getting done with it all. I passed my driving tests easily when I sixteen, and I do not anticipate any difficulties this second time around either, but every once in a while I get to wondering how I would respond if I happened to fail the tests now.
The mere thought of such humiliation strikes terror in my soul, and it motivates me to study harder, but there is only so much effort I can dedicate to such a mind-numbing process each day without succumbing to the temptation of taking up alcohol as a hobby. The whole thing has been rather surreal thus far, but I have been able to get a chuckle or two out of it all – and that’s something, I suppose.