ages ago, i had difficulty passing the learners permit exam. translation: the 7th time was the charm. given this rough history, i decided the CA traffic law test was best put off as long as possible.
which is why i quietly (legally) renewed my NJ license for the last five years.
i allow just enough bureaucracy in my life to discourage further bureaucracy, but the pleasure of avoidance was being tested. women love hitting my parked car (twice in two years) and when i file the claim i worry about having an out-of-state license. it’s probably ok but i’d rather not have to worry about it.
plus, the prospect of no more chitchat about New Jersey when i get carded sounded wonderful. so it was time to take the plunge. like everyone else, i built up visiting a California Department of Motor Vehicles location as gruesome.
but you know what? it wasn’t bad. they show celebrity trivia on the TVs. everyone behaved decently. my early morning appointment was honored.
admittedly, the odds were in favor of a rollicking good time: my request was simple, i go by an uncomplicated name, and i’m willing to follow directions if not doing so means i won’t be able to drive.
i only had one delusional moment. it came at the beginning, when i was at the first desk after my number was called. in a normal universe, you’d take the test then fork over cash. but noooooooo. here you pay in advance of potential failure. since i’ve avoided the DMV for ages i’d forgotten this strangeness.
handing over my money, i perked up like Scooby-Doo at the mention of Scooby snacks when this thought crossed my mind:
maybe he’s waiving the test for me since i’m paying now. because my record is clean and i’m cooperative. i bet the laid-back California energy is flowing briskly this morning at the Culver City DMV.
said energy was not flowing. it was my desperation talking.
but it didn’t matter. i was ready for the test. yes, i studied the manual, but i had an unrelated edge, too. i had perspective on the exam going in. my fraught past with driving exams is a long-standing joke, as it should be. so when i told my mom about the upcoming test i didn’t expect tons of empathy. but she urged me to view it as a formality. so as not to give it too much power, or assign it too much headspace.
which made tons of sense. maybe getting CA drivers license never needed to be a burden. it didn’t have to be torture or an event to avoid for half a decade. it didn’t have to be anything except a legal obligation.
when Scooby-Doo imitation time was over, i smiled (i think) for the photo and showed that exam who is boss. it’s all over. my new license arrives in a week. the burden-that-never-needed-to-be is already lifted.
with this experience in mind, what can you downgrade from “anxiety-inducing ordeal” to “bureaucratic matter”? let me know in the comments!
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