Monday, January 26, 2004
Now I'm truly an Oregonian, because if you knock me out, reach in my pocket and steal my wallet, you'll notice my State of Oregon driver's license just before you discover I only had a dollar and several grocery receipts in there. (And then while you're momentarily confused by this, I recover, jump up from the ground and go all Wu-Shu on you!) This was a big deal for me. I liked my old NC license, it had the Wright Brother's plane on it, clear evidence of wear and use, and I was making a super-thug scowl in the picture. Much of my identity was wrapped up in that ID card it seems, enough that I managed to weasle through living four years in California without getting one of their licenses. But it's time to make a commitment, and I wanted to be registered to vote here as well.
This was a good time to harangue my pal Lieber to go down to the DMV with me, since he needed to get his learner's permit. Steve thought it would be a lark to put off the rite of passage of becoming a driver for 20 years, and has also decided to finally get off the fence. Saturday morning found us standing in line before 8 AM holding our little motorists' rulebooks, quizzing each other about how fast to drive in an alley and how many feet to stop behind a firetruck. Soon we're sitting at computer terminals clicking multiple choice answers (you get a whole practice question before it begins), looking at little pictures of traffic that don't go along with the questions. Unlike the NC driver's test that I took five years ago, this one alerts you to when you get an answer wrong, and lets you see how close to failing the test you are. Maybe that's supposed to emulate the pressure of driving in traffic, I don't know. But it wasn't helpful. Everyone could hear me exclaim when I'd miss one. Blood-alcohol level that loses your license? .08, not whatever I put. And roads are more slippery when ice is near the freezing point, not lower. Luckily I only missed two more, and passed with an 88. My favorite wrong answer to "what to do if confronted by an aggressive driver"-- C:Honk your horn repeatedly to let everyone know of the dangerous driver.
I was so happy I passed that I made a dopey smile when my picture was taken and now am stuck with a ridiculously goofy ID picture for several years or until you brain me and take my wallet. And Lieber has embarked upon a great adventure that won't require him to visit every bus stop along the way. I asked if I could keep my old license, but apparently federal law prohibits that. I think they should just punch a hole in your card and let you keep it that way. Goodbye Old Card, thanks for all the bars you got me into, and for withstanding the scrutiny of highway troopers all across the country.
My passport still looks cool.