The Department of
War Against GeezersPart IMy driver's license was to expire on my 70th Birthday. Being a good citizen, I arrived at their offices two months before times to renew.When I went to get my picture taken, the lady at the counter, a Ms. Medusa, started asking pointed questions. Why was I in a wheelchair? (Polio, 1952). Why didn't my driver's license show hand-controls. (I don't know). How did I drive? (I use a hand accelerator and hand brake.) How long had I been using hand controls? (Fifty years). Why didn't my driver's license show this? (I don't know --- it was there the last time I looked.)Ms. Medusa looked at me with that chill stare brought to perfection by bureaucrats who know that all of us are liars and have been so since the day we were born. She said nothing more, dismissed me with a wave of the hand. "We'll call you later," she said. I didn't worry. I had been there ahead of time. I had passed my written test. They would mail me my driver's license in the mail. That's what I thought.What I didn't know then, what I found to my great sorrow later, was that Ms. Medusa, for reasons of her own, had shuffled me over into the darkest bowels of the DMV --- something called the "Driver Safety" Branch.July passed into August. My birthday came and went (Happy Birthday, Lorenzo!). My license expired. I called up Driver Safety but they had hooked their telephone to a special repeating tape that said I had reached Safety and that my call was very important to them. Evidently my call wasn't all that important because after five tries over three days, one lasting 25 minutes, I gave up.
They must have been secretly listening in to my curses on the telephone, for a week or so later they sent me a seven-page medical questionnaire. It arrived on the 15th of August. "This must be filled out and signed by your physician and returned to our office by August 30," said the letter in greeting. I immediately called my HMO and was told that Dr. Day might be able to squeeze me in sometime in mid-October. I went over to Driver Safety to beg mercy.
DMV Driver Safety lives upstairs in one of those dung-colored buildings with bullet-proof glass on the windows and double-locked doors and various warnings posted about prison terms awaiting those who "assault an officer of the DMV."
As I arrived, the receptionist, apparently a cousin to Ms. Medusa, was inside the bullet-proof window giving a piece of her mind to a seedy-looking man who was asking about his DUI. He had evidenly passed out at the wheel and barely avoided catastrophe. She told him that he would have to wait for his hearing in the fall before Safety could act on his request for reinstatement. He snarled at her and she snarled right back and I stayed as far away as possible from the two of them so I could not be blamed for the assault.
After he skulked away, I rolled up and I smiled brightly at Medusa II. She didn't smile back. I asked for more time for my medical letter. She told me that there would be no extensions. If I didn't get the questionnaire back by the 30th, my license would not only be expired, it would be suspended as well.
I asked to speak to a some one in charge. In an half-hour or so, Ms. Medusa's aunt came out to tell me that without the doctor's signed statement, I would be suspended. "From what --- a tree?" I wanted to ask. She said the fact that I was in a crowded HMO didn't matter. The 30th was the absolute deadline. She then turned on her heel and disappeared through a double-locked door with a peep-hole. I was beginning to understand those warnings about assault.