Like any good New Yorker, Frank Bruni can't drive. Well, he could, but after a long residence in the city he let his license expire. However, after he was pick-pocketed in May, the former Times food critic needed to take the driver's test again, and was terrified. He chronicles the red tape he had to slice through just to take the test, which culminated in his test with the dreaded "Examiner X":

“What are you doing?!?!” he screeched, as I hit the brakes and the car just missed us. He told me he could — and should — flunk me right then and there.

I apologized profusely, gently noting what a tense and odd buildup there had been. I was nervous, I said. And so, so sorry. He said that I could go on, but that I had no margin for error. Any tiny imperfection would result in failure.

I drove maybe 100 yards to the nearest intersection and, following his instructions, turned right.

“What are you doing?!?!?” he bellowed.


Examiner X asked me if I’d ever had a license before. Yes, I said, for most of my life.

“In what country!?!?” he shouted.

Spoiler Alert: He gets his license, but only after flunking his test with "Examiner X" and taking another test up in Yonkers. However, he could have saved himself the trouble, and just applied for a non-driver's ID like the rest of us.