Thursday, April 21, 2011
A Milestone in the Road of Life
The incessant banging on my bedroom door last Tuesday afternoon forcing me back to consciousness from a deep sleep was the signal that my son, Darth Spoilboy, had returned from his last formal driving lesson with a professional instructor. It was also the indication he was more than ready to take the driving test at the local department of motor vehicles office, which unfortunately for me meant I would have to go with him.
For a few moments I continued to lay in bed struggling to find the motivation to go visit a place that even the most radical atheists often described as hell, despite the fact my son’s pounding threaten to shatter the door into a million pieces sending a swarm of deadly wooden splinters my way. The thought did cross my mind that such a fate might just possibly be preferable than having to spend time dealing with low paid and irate civil servants along with the hordes of spoiled civilians with bad attitudes.
In the end for my son, I did get up, slip on my sandals, and get out of the room before any real damage was done. I owed Spoilboy that much, Monday marked the last day of a desperate six-month waiting period after taking the written examination for his driver’s permit allowing him to take the road test and get his restricted license. Aside from a horrible condition, he suffered from back in 2005 resulting in massive surgery to his intestines and several weeks of painful recuperation, the six-month period waiting for his driver’s license was the most anguished time in his young life.
The driver’s permit allowed Spoilboy at the wheel of a car only while accompanied by an adult, which was problematic when we came anywhere near his friends resulting in severe embarrassment for him being seen with his parents. Several times Spoilboy asked my wife or me to slump down in the car in an attempt not to be seen as we passed close by someone he knew. He stopped making this request after I started picking my nose and eating phantom buggers in clear view of anyone nearby in their own cars. So you can understand how he viewed his driver’s license as a form of personal liberation for his young soul.
Now our battle plan was to arrive at the DMV around 1:00pm, the time we theorized the least amount of people would be there trying to get business done that particular weekday. Walking into the confines of the building, a glorious testament to bureaucratic architecture, we were first assaulted by the heat from the lack of air conditioning and then by the sight of long lines at the counters and the unwashed masses sitting in uncomfortable chairs certainly designed by one of Satan’s minions. After grabbing the ubiquitous slip of paper with a number printed on it signifying our place in line and the greater scheme of things we joined the sad group with me wondering if we would leave before Doomsday arrived.
As we waited I could not but help wonder why such a pro-business and free enterprise state like South Carolina had not installed a bar in every DMV office not only as a money making venture but a way to alleviate the depressing mind funk that hang over every building like it. I figured after hanging a few tropical posters showing beautiful Caribbean islands the hypothetical bar could sell non-alcoholic beer, low sodium pretzels, and hypoallergenic peanuts at exaggerated prices. The marketing of those items could certainly offset the salaries of many of the civil servants and possibly make the state a little money. And I will not even mention the cash bonanza corporate endorsements of beer, tourism, and snacks would bring.
Going further on making the DMV friendlier, I figured they could throw in a little steel-drum music over the intercom, place several fake palm trees in strategic locations, and have the staff wear Hawaiian shirts complete with colorful leis. Of course, its common knowledge that all DVMs are run by Nazis, ever eager to inflict suffering on people, as well as being gateways to hell so any attempt to humanize such places is simply impossible.
Just as misery from waiting threatened to overwhelm me my son’s number was called and we quickly jumped toward the counter with the smiling clerk waiting to serve us. The clerk was very life-like, almost as good as the automatons in the hall of presidents at Disney World and after checking the various forms to assure the state that Spoilboy was who he was we promptly sat back down to wait for the examiner who would test my son.
With my usual luck, right as I struck up a conversation with a redneck MILF (imagine a 40-something, chain smoking Kate Middleton dressed in an AC/DC t-shirt and tight jeans) there with her daughter the examiner called Spoilboy for the test and wanted to speak to me for a moment. The examiner just wanted to inform me what he was going to test my son on and how long it would take. It was an extremely professional thing to do but annoyed the shit out me since my spot next the hot redneck lady was lost the second I vacated the seat. Looking back, I saw two generic bubbas competing for her attentions and the possibility to join her list of boyfriends with the chance to vie for the grand prize of being her fourth husband.
After a mandatory check of the vehicle by the examiner, he and Spoilboy drove off for the test leaving me waiting outside. Without sounding too much like the proud father I figured my son had the test in the bag, along with several sessions with a professional driving instructor, Spoilboy and I had spent many hours just driving around. I found him a careful and considerate driver, which was good for my heart given how teenagers usually are when they first start driving.
During this time what was funny was seeing his intense focus on getting the parallel parking portion of the test right. A few times during these practices, I started feeling the first symptoms of motion sickness as he repeatedly ran through the maneuvers it would take to get him inside the assigned space. So, when he and the instructor pulled back into the DMV area and drove up towards the barriers that served as the parallel parking test site I was sure he would make it but I still found myself holding my breath.
With a deftness and skill I admired, Spoilboy whipped the car inside the required space completing and passing the test. Soon afterwards, my usually levelheaded and calm son was clearly walking amongst the clouds as we waited for his driver’s license to be made. Out of all the uncomfortable waiting in a place I almost would not wish on my worst enemy it was totally worth it to see him pass this milestone on the way to adulthood.
The only problem now is that Dragonwife and I are feeling the pressure by Spoilboy to purchase him his own car. I just wish his driver’s education had included a lesson on how insuring teenage boys cost their parents several body parts along with the pawning of younger siblings. That reminds me, I have only seven years before Miss Wiggles gets her license, any prayers and funds sent my way would be greatly appreciated.