Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Licensed to Drive

             Birthdays roll around quickly enough, but this year I received a notice from the DMV (California’s Department of Motor Vehicles) informing me that, because I have received my last two renewals by mail, it is now my turn to make the dreaded trip to the DMV office. Ugh!

I’ve been out of the loop on my day-to-day things since about mid-May so I’m just now getting back into some semblance of normality. Mid-May found me tied up with singing in a barbershop quartet for the stage production of the Music Man. The Modesto Performing Arts produced this classic concluding with six performances in late June. I had a great time, loving every minute of it. The down-side was that rehearsals were every night (except Sundays) which was quite a grind.

Then a dear family friend in Virginia passed away, necessitating my wife and me to fly out of San Francisco late on the night of the last performance (a matinee) with the funeral service a day later. I literally came home from the performance, showered, and shaved off the beard I had grown for the production, grabbed our bags and headed for the airport.

We spent about a week at my brother’s in Virginia, at which point Isaura and I drove from Washington DC to Orlando where I was to take part in the Annual Free Methodist Chaplains Conference along with the Free Methodist General Conference which is held every four years. Once this came to an end we flew home for about ten days before I flew back to Virginia. The second trip to Virginia was meant to be our first trip. We traditionally vacation back East with my brother and other family members, having made these plans months before. Of course, we could not plan for the unexpected, so the funeral wound up being our first trip.

In the midst of this came my renewal notification from the DMV, arriving at our home in Ripon, California. I was vaguely aware of seeing it in my stack of mail but set it aside to take care of when I finally would get home in mid-August. My wife did not go on the second trip to Virginia because we were having major renovation work done on our home. Our kitchen was gutted, leaving only our refrigerator and dishwasher intact. Everything else is new, including flooring throughout the downstairs. We also had the master bedroom extended into the next bedroom. I guess you could say I picked a good time to be gone for three weeks!

Once back home, I was put to work by my bride helping put lots of things back, and generally doing handyman type stuff as the projects were winding down.

So this, along with my early morning escapes to the golf course, filled my days. In the process I forgot about needing to renew my driver’s license. In a near state of panic early this week I remembered this critical task. First thing I did was attempt to call the DMV to see what could be done since my birthday is September 5. Calling to speak with a live person at the DMV is the height of folly. I mean, what was I thinking? My daughter, Laura, suggested I register online. I didn’t think that would help because I thought I had to take the written test and a driver’s test both.

After dragging out my notice I discovered that I did not have to take a written test or a driver’s test. Phew! What it did say though, was that I would need to come to the DMV office and pay the fee, take an eye test, have my picture taken, and have my thumb print made. That was a relief!

I was filling out all the info online easily enough, but ran into a snag when it came to making an appointment at the nearest DMV in Manteca. The first opening available was three days after my birthday! My mind created all sorts of scenarios where I would be driving with an expired license for those three days.

Living in a small town is great! So I called the Police Department and asked to speak to the police chief whom I have known for about fifteen years. He was on another call so I left him a voice message. I then called the switchboard again and asked if I could speak to any officer on duty. At that moment the chief was calling me back. Somewhat embarrassedly I explained my dilemma. He assured me that I was fine. In fact, he said law enforcement officers are encouraged to go easy on people who have not renewed their driver’s license, giving them up to 90 days following their birthday. I no sooner hung up from my conversation with the chief when my phone rang and it was an on-duty officer getting back to me. I explained that the chief had just called, but told him anyway why I had called in the first place. We had a pleasant chat at which time I was feeling ever so much better about this whole matter of my driver’s license.

The thought of not having a valid driver’s license was anathema to me. Seems like I’ve always had one. My first license was from Massachusetts. About nine months later we moved to California where I obtained my new license from this fair state. Over the years I have had a driver’s licenses from Japan, Spain and an International Driver’s License several times.

So I will sleep well tonight knowing I’m still legal to drive until my renewal efforts are finalized. But I can’t help but think I could have avoided all this last minute drama if I’d only taken care of this earlier.

Will I ever learn?

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