A few days after I wrote a rant of sorts about my grandchildren qualifying for drivers' licenses when I thought they were too young, a friend told me about a headache she avoided. Her twin sister phoned her that day to ask if she had remembered this was the month to renew their licenses. She had not and was grateful to her twin for the reminder. Two days later would have meant her license expired requiring her to take both written and driving tests to get it back.
Her story made me pull out my billfold to check my own license. Now that we are over 70 years of age, our licenses are renewable every other year during our birthday month. Mine showed that it had expired 3 months earlier. Horrors. I had been driving illegally for all that time and would have to do so for another 4 days unless I could find an office that opened earlier in the week than ours. It looked like testing was ahead for me. For the first time in my life I wished I was a twin.
There was a time when you could choose to get either a 2 or 5 year license. I usually chose the more expensive 5 year one so I could forget about it for a few years. Well, that is exactly what I did one year. I bought it and forgot about it.
I was driving my daughter to the bureau to get hers renewed when she checked to see when mine expired. I was 3 years past my renewal date. They had given it to me for 2 years rather than 5. I stopped the car and changed places with my daughter. I didn't want to risk getting a ticket while driving into the courthouse parking lot with all those state troopers around. The rest of the way to town she quizzed me on driving rules and speed limits. She had taken her test a few months earlier so she felt she was qualified to prepare me for mine.
I hoped they wouldn't notice the year it expired when I handed my old license in asking for a renewal. That hope was quickly squelched. The clerk responded to my request by barking, "You'll have to take tests. Do you want to do that today?" She directed me to the area for taking the written test. There I sat with a roomful of teenagers trying to get a permit for the first time. Evidently after getting the initial license most people pay more attention to deadlines than I do because I was the only oldie in the room.
I passed the written test and was directed to the parking lot where I met a state trooper for my driving test. I was not concerned about that, confident that I was a good driver. At a crosswalk downtown I gave a happy little wave to our neighbors, Ervin and Sadie, who were waiting to cross the street. They were bound to notice my passenger was not one of my kids but a patrolman. I didn't want them to think I was in trouble so I waved and smiled.
I asked how I had done before exiting the car back at the courthouse. "You did one thing wrong. You were supposed to stop and give the right-of-way to those people on the crosswalk instead of waving at them," he said. But I did get my license. Obviously you get no points for being friendly.
This year I had once more put myself into this situation - an expired license and the chance there were tests ahead. The driving part concerned me because I will drive around for half an hour or park 4 blocks away from my destination just so I don't have to parallel park. The kids tell me the last few years being able to parallel park was important. That would have done me in and maybe even earned my van a dent or two.
My mother used to say that 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. Based on that bit of wisdom I figured if I worried about it, the odds would be in my favor. Mother was right again.
I walked into the license bureau. There were no other applicants in the room. The clerks were pleasant and welcoming. I chatted with them and we shared a couple of laughs before I handed over the incriminating document. They asked me all the pertinent questions, took my picture and gave me the eye test. I signed a couple of papers, handed over the $8 fee and they ordered my license. It was that simple. I still don't know why I wasn't penalized.
I can now list this incident as one of the mysteries of my life together with the reason I wasn't blessed with a twin sister when it would have been so helpful to me. But who am I to think I should know the reasons for everything? I'll accept life as it happens and happily move on - with a valid driver's license.