Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Take It On The Run, Baby - Part I

So my driver’s license expired before I could renew it. Sure, there were a few mitigating factors in my irresponsibility, such as the massive (for Texas) ice storm which plowed into town, shutting things down and basically eliminating travel. But the bottom line is that I was a slacker, choosing to while away my time with less-necessary pursuits rather than fulfill my obligations as an upstanding citizen. I seem to have an issue when it comes to vehicular deadlines. (See previous post here.) I’m assuming that something devastating happened in my childhood concerning authority and a stick shift.

And it’s fair to say that they’ve spoiled us a bit in this modern era. See, most of the time you can just hop online, fill out a short form, enter a credit card number, and presto, you can legally cut people off for another designated interval of years. But, in Texas at least, every other decade or so you have to physically report to a government location and get a new mug shot for your license, so that you can continue purchasing alcohol without concerns over the disparity between your actual appearance and the teenage image of you on your ID.

Everybody hates doing this, of course. We’ve all had an abhorrence of standing in line to get our picture taken since that horrible instance in elementary school when our awkwardness and inability to dress properly were first captured on film, thus beginning the catalog of blackmail-quality images that your relatives keep hidden until the exact moment when you are trying to impress someone new in your life. It never fails that a sadistic sister or mother will whip out one of these photos, scaring off your unprepared potential mate with shocking snaps of you sporting freckles, missing teeth and a “Dukes of Hazzard” t-shirt.

It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of warning that I had to report for Humiliation Duty. My birthday was January 26th, and the helpful State of Texas sent me something way back around Thanksgiving that I had reached the license milestone where it was imperative that I physically present myself to official people and let them see how far I had strayed from the weight and hair color indicated on my now ancient and decrepit rectangle of plastic. I could already hear the barely-muffled laughter and cries of “that boy sure likes him some cookies”.

So what did I do with this notice? Instead of instantly placing this form in my car so that it would taunt and remind me on a daily basis, I threw it somewhere in or on my desk, and the letter instantly vanished. Out of sight, don’t have to stand in line. At least not today. I had far more important issues at the moment, such as making sure that everybody got me exactly what I wanted for Christmas, and not something crappy without a receipt.

Flash forward through TWO MONTHS of procrastination, and DL-Day was fast approaching. As the moment neared, I did actually make a few feeble attempts to take care of things before it was too late. Sadly, this consisted of me walking into the home office, opening a random drawer on my desk, peering briefly inside, then slamming the drawer shut, deciding that I had no idea where the stupid form might be, then marching back into the den for another episode of “Modern Family”.

And the shame deepens. For some reason, probably because we go so long in this state without having to update our license photo and I forgot the rules, I thought that I had until the end of January to take care of this. (And surely there would even be a grace period after that, right?) As per my usual practice, I waited until January 31st to even begin making preparations. At that point, I sat down at my desk, logged into the Department of Transportation Safety website, and clicked on a cute little button designed specifically for people like me who let official things slide because they are idiots.

And then I screamed and began clawing my face. Partly because this is just a fun thing to do, causing the cat to flee the room in terror and the rest of the house to go apprehensively silent, but also because of the words before me.

In the State of Texas, your driver’s license expires ON your birthday. Period. (Which makes sense, of course, but I had happily deluded myself with the “until the end of the month” mess because I was willing to believe anything that might mean another day of delay.) And there was NO grace period. Nada. Under any circumstances. Except death, and even then it had better have been a violent end, or they were still going to ticket your casket for operating a vehicle without state approval.

I was now a criminal.

Oh, and it gets better. Because the license was fully expired, and the State of Texas had graciously deemed it possible for people to renew their licenses up to ONE FULL YEAR before it expires, (Wait. What? A year? I didn’t know that. How would I know that? Why don’t people ever tell me anything?), there would be no leeway, no hard-luck stories, and no opportunities to utilize sexual indiscretions to gain favor. I was going to have to take all the tests over, just like I was 16 years old again, with my feathered hair and daily battles with acne, self-esteem and which roller skating rink to go to on Saturday.


I went into immediate mourning, and spent the rest of the afternoon rending my hair and staring out the front window at the streets that I could no longer legally travel. (Side note: REALLY need to rake the leaves off the lawn, but that’s for another blog.) And that very night, the first of several icy storms blew in. I didn’t make it to WORK for the next four days, let alone some hell mouth where I had to stand in line with smelly people and crying babies just so somebody with sucky wages could shove my ass in front of a camera and bark at me to quit smiling, this wasn’t a talent show and nobody here was allowed to be happy.

So the Days of Wine and Poses and unending white crap falling from the sky piled up, followed by more days of actually being able to get out and about but I didn’t worry about that stupid license because I had more important things to do like wash the salty white granola off my car and finally talk to other people that didn’t live in my own house. Before I knew it, I was two weeks overdue. It was time to either suck it up and face this thing head on, or call up Thelma and flee the state.

In what turned out to be a preliminary run, I left work early one day and headed toward our local Licensing Emporium. My fingers were crossed that maybe the time of day and a bit of luck would magically create a non-busy situation wherein I could whisk in and out with minimal frustration and blood pressure distortion.

Of course I was completely wrong about this.

I turn a corner and the building comes into view. I can only see part of it, because of an oddly-placed grouping of trees but it doesn’t seem to be overly crowded. Hurray! Then I’m past the trees, and I realize that there are actually about 400,000 people milling about the entrance, spilling over into the parking lot, where even more people are trapped in their cars and honking for the gang members to get out of the way so they can go drink after dealing with this place. There’s not an empty parking slot for miles.

I whip the car around and drive the other direction. Not gonna happen today.

A few days later, I’m discussing my situation with… well, one of my friends who shall remain nameless due to the sudden criminal element in our relationship, and I don’t want her to be thrown in the slammer based on some archaic Texas law concerning knowledge aforethought. (She would NEVER survive having to wear an orange jumper and no makeup.) To her credit, she did a relatively good job of not belittling me for my idiocy. I only caught a tiny glimmer in one eye that she found my predicament to be the result of my own dumbassedry.

Instead, she tenderly grasped my hand and gently counseled: “You need to schedule a vacation day and go take care of this. And on a side note, don’t ever wear that tie with that shirt again. It’s insulting.”

My partner, later that same day: “You need to schedule a vacation day and go take care of this. And by the way, do you not understand that when the soap in the shower is down to a sliver, that you are supposed to get a new bar?”

Scotch the Cat, still later, same day: “You need to schedule a vacation day and stock this place up with treats. I’m tired of the same flavor.”

Me: I can’t stand anybody right now.

But I finally gave in, and yesterday afternoon I submitted a request to take today off. That way I could spend the whole day in vehicular hell, should it be necessary. Granted, I did have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for late in the afternoon, but I decided to keep that as well, since we were planning to discuss my anxiety medication, and I was probably going to need even more of THAT.

So, this morning I arise to pleasant sunshine, birds chirping, and the Grim Reaper peering in my bathroom window. I pulled the curtain on him, hopped in the shower, took my meds, confirmed that I had everything I might need (including insurance verification, a letter of recommendation from a traffic cop I once dated, a briefcase stuffed with cash for a potential down-low transaction to get out of parallel parking, and a change of underwear), threw all of this in the car, patted Scotch lovingly since the next time he sniffed me I might smell like Eau d’Incarceration), took one last look at the house, and then headed down the road to my fate…

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

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