before i headed south earlier this month, i had some dmv adventures.
my license was set to expire on my birthday (may 6th in case any of you dear readers care to know). i haven’t driven since my stroke – figured i had plenty of things to focus on already. i sold my car and i cruise around town on the bus and with rides from friends and family. i wasn’t sure what renewing my license would entail, but my mom wanted me to do some driving to see how that went. so i took her car for a spin in the reser stadium parking lot on the osu campus. now, i spent my teen years in pasadena, so i started my driving experience in the parking lot of the rose bowl. if you want to feel young again, drive your mom’s car (with her riding shotgun and giving you feedback about your performance) in an empty stadium parking lot. that subaru was a time machine – took me back 22 years!
it was fine by me if i ended up with just an ID card, so i wasn’t stressed, just wanted it to be finished. so i went to the dmv about a week before my birthday. filled out the paperwork. there were three questions i needed to answer, and i’ll paraphrase:
• is your vision corrected well-enough to drive safely? yes, thanks to my prism lenses.
• do you have a mental condition that would prevent you from driving safely? nope.
• do you use inhalants or illegal drugs? nope.
astute readers will notice that they don’t ask if you have a physical condition that would prevent you from driving safely. that one would have been hard for me to answer – my wonky coordination makes it sort of weird to drive (i have muscle memory for things like the turn signal, but my left arm can’t quite follow directions. it’s getting better, but i wouldn’t have known how to answer a question about it.). hey drivers and pedestrians – don’t you want the dmv to ask people that question when they go to renew their license?
they call my number, and i give my paperwork to the friendly woman behind the counter. she enters my information, checks my identification. says, “i see you have a handicap parking placard.” i think that this is probably it. “do you have the paperwork to renew it?” i tell her that i haven’t gotten it back yet from my doctor. she tells me to go to the next counter to have my picture taken. that’s it! i try not to faint.
at the next counter, the man takes my paperwork and points to the chair. he says that i need to take my glasses off for the picture (since when?). i do. he tells me to look at the yellow dot under the camera. there are two. before i can figure out which one i’m supposed to be looking at, he’s printing out my temporary license. i look confused in the picture. i take it and tell my mom, waiting patiently, that i’m finished. i show her my license and she manages not to audibly gasp.
back at my apartment, the placard form is waiting in my mailbox. i took the bus to the dmv the next day, the day before i left on my trip. figured i’d try to get it taken care of before i left. on the form, my doctor had to sign to verify that my disability would last for 4 or more years. i qualify for a placard because i have a mobility disability. walking from the parking spot into wherever i’m going isn’t a problem anymore – the problems are things like curbs between me and my destination. my number was quickly called, and the woman gave me my new placard. good for 8 years. it took maybe a minute of dmv staff time – why do they renew it for 8 years? why don’t i need to go back in a year or two to get it renewed?
lots on my mind after these experiences. i realize that things are likely tight at the dmv. but i’m in their system as getting a handicap parking placard since my last license renewal – clearly something happened to me, right? how long would it take to check my vision? the written driving test is given by computer here, so why don’t they pop me down in front of it? that wouldn’t take staff time. i would have passed either one, but come on! and i’ve realized that the last time i took a driving test was two days after my 16th birthday (my birthday was on a saturday that year, so i had to wait). 22 years ago. when does the dmv test you again? what does it take to get re-tested? as a pedestrian, i don’t want people like me driving. now, i’m still recovering and with practice i know that i’ll be a good, safe driver again. but i’m not now. so i choose not to drive. but that’s it – it’s my choice. so i still have my 2 driving accessories, but i’d feel a lot safer if i only had one of them.