The DOL: Final Reckoning

D Day.  We get up early and Tom practices backing around a corner and parallel parking for an hour or so before the driver’s test appointment.  By the way, in 40 years of driving I think I may have backed around a corner five times.  Sort of the licensing equivalent of mandatory Geometry in high school.  I have never, ever used Geometry since that high school class… which I barely passed.

In the waiting stall.  I’ve checked our Proof of Insurance card 20 times.  Tom has checked it even more.  He has his permit.  He’s nervous.

A young guy approaches.  Young guy… good.  Speaks English really well.  Also good.  “Learner’s Permit?” Check.  “Registration?” Check.  “Proof of Insurance?” Fuckin’ A. 

I get out of the car.  They head out.  I go inside and wait for what is supposed to be about ten or fifteen minutes.  I am so nervous.  I text Barbara… she’s nervous too.  Lotta nervous energy goin’ on.

I stand near the take-a-number machine.  An Asian man approaches and starts talking to me and gesturing at the machine.  He can’t speak English and I can’t understand him.  He points at the Letter/Number signs at the counter.  Ah, he needs a number.  I push it for him.  He nods his head in appreciation.  During my wait he returns and takes a number a couple more times.  Huh?

How in the world does a person who cannot speak English get a driver’s license? 

Barbara texts me to tell me she is more nervous.  Me too.  Oh wait, Tom is pulling in.  The tester guy gets out and walks away with no expression on his face.  Tom sits in the car.  I’m watching from the inside of the DOL.  He gets out… grim-faced.  Oh God, don’t tell me he failed. 

Tom is about 15 feet away and I’m walking toward him.  We make eye contact.  Then I see the most amazing and wonderful smile.  We hug.  “I passed Dad! I got a 94.”  (80 is passing) 

Tom said he was very nervous starting out.  But the guy was calm and cool and relaxed and that helped.  Tom said he quickly got more relaxed.   He lost a couple of points each on parallel parking and backing around a corner, but generally did very well. He texts Mom and tells her the good news.

Back into the DOL and we take a number to pay for a driver’s license.  The number is, incredibly, 666!  Please tell me there won’t be a problem.  It actually goes pretty fast, including the guy taking a break at 665.  Tom spends the time texting all his friends.  We pay the money, Tom gets his picture taken and they hand him his brand, spanking new driver’s license.

At the car, Tom says:   “You drive, Dad.”   I turn to him and say: ” Tom, I’m very happy for you.  I only ask one thing:  Never use your cell phone when you’re driving.”  He says:  “I promise Dad.”

After several appointments, tons of waiting and frustration and confusion (I didn’t even mention the fiasco when they entered the wrong social security number for Tom into their data base) we go home.  Tom has a driver’s license.

What did we learn from this?  Not much except that given the importance of a driver’s license,  the DOL must feel their role is to throw up as many hurdles as possible so you feel a real sense of accomplishment when you get the license. 

I only felt relief.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dave on February 28, 2010 at 4:17 am

    I enjoy reading your blogs!


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