Sunday, April 15, 2012

Driver’s License Renewal – The Examiner

Over the span of your first few license renewals you learn that as long as you don’t allow your current license to expire, the renewal is fairly painless and does not involve a driving test…and another go at the dreaded “parallel park” maneuver.  Even when renewing in a new state, you find that most states observe reciprocity with one another.  Usually, there’s no written test either…as long as your current license has not expired.

However, let your license expire and it’s a do it all over again situation…written and driving.  About 14-years after getting my first license as an EH sophomore, for whatever reasons involving a move to a new state, I let mine expire.  So, here we go again, the whole enchilada. 

We grew up in a segregated South where, when we first got our license, all highway troopers were Caucasian-Americans.  Fourteen-years later, that was no longer so.  Entering the written test area I notice a dude, similar to the one pictured, sitting on a stool, acting as the test proctor. 

Since I’ve got to take a driving test after the written, I had to write the description of the car I would be using for the test on their test form.  At that time I was driving one of those fast little foreign sports jobs that was the dream of every adolescent boy and unattached young man.  Its color and accessories screamed, “up yours” even when sitting still.

While I’m taking the written test, I notice the trooper casually scanning the papers, including the test car description.  The trooper gets up from his stool and steps over to one of his side-kicks for a short conference, referencing my papers.  Shortly, my trooper disappears, replaced by his side-kick, who takes over the proctor perch on the stool.

Grading the written test was quick, and within a few moments I’m outside for the driving test, wheeling my “up yours” car around to the starting line, a long CB antenna whipping in the air.  There’s my missing trooper dude, standing on the starting line, waiting for me, clipboard in hand.  A cool, pretty day…the top is off.

Somewhere I had read that the only limits required to be met during the driving test was to not drive recklessly and stay within the speed limit, and of course, meet all the other rules regarding stopping, yielding, and whatever else.  Reckless was defined as chirping the tires loose.  I reason that accelerating to the speed limit is at my discretion and turning corners can be done as quickly as I can turn them, as long as the tires don’t break loose—what’s to be concerned about?  I’ve been driving for 14-years, after all. 

Making sure my trooper is buckled up, off we go, going fast, turning fast, and stopping fast...but never chirping the tires.  Slamming around the surrounding neighborhoods, the loud, distinctive exhaust blasts its notes, and double clutching the gears up and down fills the air with a fairly consistent, tightly-wound, loud engine noise.  There are 5-gears on the floor, but only 2 are used for this test...we aren't going very fast, even though it sounds like we are.  Although my trooper is armed with a clipboard and test check list, he doesn’t mark on it…he’s engaged for most of the test in hanging onto his hat with one hand, and holding onto the chicken handle with the other.  He’s grinning, ear-to-ear and I think he waived the dreaded “parallel park.”

Back at the DPS shop, still grinning, he dismounts and says, “you handle it very well.”  Thanks, I say…it’s the third one and I’ve had plenty of practice.  Don’t recall another driving test since, but this one was a kick.


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