Driving examiner Ramona Gonzales had already decided to flunk the novice behind the wheel for failing to change lanes properly. But the worst maneuver of the test was yet to come.
The upset driver, a 28-year-old woman, was executing a turn into the parking lot of the Department of Motor Vehicles headquarters in Glendale when the car suddenly accelerated, crashing into the building.
"Before I knew it, we were in the wall and she was crying," said Gonzales, 46. "We didn't even get to the parking part of the test."
"I think she already knew she failed the test," the examiner said. "I guess she was nervous. She couldn't speak English, and she had trouble telling her left from right."
The failed driver was uninjured, but Gonzales suffered a sprained right wrist.
Later, the examiner learned that the novice had flunked two previous tests over the last eight months.
"Nobody warned me," Gonzales said. "Usually other examiners will tip each other off."
It's no doubt a sign of the times that the "D.A. Crossword Puzzle" in the latest newsletter of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office is preoccupied with drug-oriented clues, including "Major Narcotics or Hardcore" (9 down), "Pro-Marijuana Organization" (7 down) "Carole of Major Narcotics" (15 across), "Quantity of Cocaine" (14 across), and, of course, "Nose" (4 down).
Lady Who? has been replaced by the Goddess Pomona in the seal of the Los Angeles County assessor's office. But the old emblem remains a mystery.
"It pictured a woman holding the scales but it wasn't Lady Justice," said Robert Knowles, a spokesman for the office. "We couldn't figure out who it was, or what she was supposed to represent. The seal also pictured a church, and we don't tax churches."
Knowles redesigned the emblem, which depicts "oil wells, industry, the harbor and other things that we tax. And we added the phrase, Equitas Est Libertas (Equality, or Fairness, is Freedom)."
The centerpiece of the new assessor emblem, which is used on department stationery, is the county seal, which features Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards.
And the woman in the old seal?
"We asked around," Knowles said, "and it seems that she was a red-haired secretary who worked for a previous assessor."
Perhaps the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History should send someone next door to the Poison Prevention Exhibit when it opens at the California Museum of Science and Industry in two weeks.
A dozen employees were evacuated from the natural history museum Thursday after some containers holding poisonous granules of sodium arsenite and arsenic trioxide fell to the floor and broke. There were no injuries.
Museum spokeswoman Maryann Dunn said a workman was moving a box containing the granules when the bottom gave way. "Employees are under specific directions to move such materials in plastic containers," Dunn said, "but the rule was not observed this time."
Radio talk show host Tom Leykis doesn't plan to burn old Cat Stevens records, after all.
He says he's going to crush them.
Which may or may not make any difference to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The KFI radio personality deferred to air pollution laws and on Thursday advised his listeners to send in their Stevens records for a public crunch-out (rather than a bonfire) next Wednesday as a demonstration against Stevens' support of Khomeini's death sentence against novelist Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses."
Stevens became a Muslim convert in 1979 and changed his name to Yousuf Islam.
Fellow KFI talk show host Geoff Edwards has been suspended by the station for refusing to promote the Leykis stunt on the grounds that censorship is censorship.
More proof that a few hundredths of an inch of rain brings Los Angeles to a virtual standstill: A scheduled tour by Mayor Tom Bradley of a new attraction at the Los Angeles Zoo was postponed Thursday because of the wet stuff.
The attraction, we're sad to say: Adventure Island.