Friday, June 13, 2008

Driver's License Renewal

Yesterday was a busy day. Among other things, I went to David to renew my driver's license which expires in a week.  I always go early when I face the bureaucracy, because despite my efforts to find out exactly what is necessary, you just never know what details you've missed.

I already knew--quite by accident--that since I would be past 70 when the time came for renewal, I would have to get a certificate from my doctor stating that I was fit enough to drive.

I personally think that this is an excellent law.  When I first saw the requirement, my mind flashed back almost 35 years when I was in Minnesota, stopped to make a left-hand turn with my signal on--and a 74 year old man plowed into the back of my car.  One of the things that came out in the next hour is that this man was driving with a serious aneurism, which meant he could die instantly at any minute if that aneurism blew, doing God knows what damage to other vehicles, drivers or even pedestrians.  Yet, it was perfectly legal for him to do so.  It was NOT perfectly legal, however, for him to be driving without glasses, which he was.  I left him to Minnesota justice in the form of the State Police and went on my way.  I've never forgotten the incident.

Certification was no problem because I always have my annual exam right around my birthday anyway.  To be insufferably smug about it, I am in excellent health.  So clutching my certificate and a raft of results of blood tests and ekg scan, I went to the appropriate office for renewal.

To my surprise and gratification, it all went smoothly.   I went early to avoid crowds and was waited on almost immediately.

One of my worst personality defects is that I can not resist playing the clown.  Fortunately, once the Panamanians get over the shock of a 71 year old gringa doing her best to make jokes in Spanish (jokes that believe me, are lame in English), they humor me and even laugh.  You can see why I love living here.  No one used to laugh at my jokes in the US!  One of the main reasons why I moved, to be frank.  The young woman giggled, even, when I tried to get her to read my ekg.

Anyway, we got to the part where you have to have your photo taken.  Ever the idiot, I mugged for the little camera; given what those cameras are like, it came out with me looking like some disreputable homeless beggar who was out to steal an old lady's purse in order to get my next meal.  Except  of course I am an old lady, too, but I have never let age get in my way.  Mary and I have this competition going to see who can take the worst official photos.  As hard as I tried, I have to admit that she still beats me out--but just barely, just barely.

Next were the eye and hearing tests.  All ok.

The shock came when I went to pay the fee--$40.  That is double what it was last year!  

In no mood to laugh now, I returned with my receipt to pick up my new license--to find out that because of my age,I have to have it renewed in 2 years instead of the usual 4.  While I hate the inconvenience, I think this is a good law.  It won't do everything, but it will reduce the number of problematic drivers on the road.  God knows they're bad enough when in perfect health.

So I left, bruised from the unexpected increase in the fee but happy with the way the process went.  

My only dissatisfaction was that I couldn't get anyone to read my ekg.


Fraydoh said...

HiYa Joyce and Mary,

Send me your EKG, I'll let you know. Used to read them a lot when I was involved in heart research. I've probably lost the touch -- been 24 years now. Lemme see, this says "Capistrano's. 5pm. Don't be late."

Just for comparison, I turned 60 on May 13, which in NC means "get a new license" and take a vision test. I said "Hey, why don't I try it without my glasses!" Go ahead, the guy says. "Read me the letters and numbers you see," he says. "Well, which letters and numbers", I say. "Maybe try with the glasses," he says, laughing. Then I had to identify 24 road signs by their shape, just in case I wasn't wearing my glasses when I was driving. So I did that. Actually, I was stumped on one and didn't say anything. The examiner says "Think of trains" -- "Oh, yeah, railroad crossing!" "Perfect score!" he says, laughing again. (It was a slow day at the DL examiner station.) I'm good for 5 years around here!

My last photo, taken in 2000, made me look like a 92-year-old ex-Mafia Don. People would look at that photo and say "Who's this?". "My Uncle Luigi -- he took the test for me last time." My new photo looks very much like me -- unfortunate, since I look like a beneficent Rabbi, and I'm not Jewish. Luckily, I can probaby fake it, having been a member of a Jewish fraternity in college. (They invited me. Then for years, I was greeted with Heil Hitler! when I walked into the room. This was a joke, of course.) Anyway, next time I visit Manhattan and have to produce a drivers license, I'm ready to be invited home to meet the kids and bless the house. I have to remember to keep a kippah in my back pocket for such emergencies. I'm able to mumble in Yiddish, thanks to Gertrude Stein.

I hadn't said in anything in a while, and thought you might think I'd quit reading. Then what I write sounds like I need to increase my intake of valium. Anyway, Happy 70th Birthday to you and Happy 4th to your house!

Joyce said...

Hey, Fraydoh!

A 92 year old ex Mafia don, hmmm? Darn, I AM jealous of that one! And I'm full Italian, too!

Still, I wouldn't mind looking like a rabbineh, either.

The driver's license exam story is a hoot. And lay off the Valium--life gets duller.