Early morning Thursday, Nov. 21, a much-needed rain began to fall, pitta-pat. About as close as it gets to seasonal change for Angelenos; most welcomed by farmers and turtles. But not for a wary columnist with a 9:10 a.m. Department of Motor Vehicles appointment. Surface streets clogged every which way; the six-minute trek from KRH to Lincoln Park becomes twenty-five. Then the southbound Mission boulevard traffic wouldn’t allow a simple left-turn entry into the parking lot for an additional six minutes! Drivers are extra inconsiderate on rainy days.
Parking space was more than ample. There was no waiting line outside. They wouldn’t cancel driving tests because of inclement weather, would they?
To make certain nothing could go wrong, I had made an appointment even though assured “Mr. William” would be taken care of promptly without one. Voila! I’m directed to report to familiar Window Eleven, again, and to my new-found sympathetic clerk friend, Donna. After a warm reunion, the single piece of paper standing between me and a license renewal is handed over.
For whatever reason, I am once again asked to press my right thumb on the I.D. machine; I guess to make sure they have the right Mr. William. A few more computer entries, a print out and there we are. Finished. She goes to the center office maze for Ms. Supervisor’s final approval. An animated conversation takes place. I am concerned. No, not again. I cross my fingers.
“Your ophthalmologist failed to fill out your eye test scores without glasses,” she declares as if I had started World War III. “It must be recorded even though you drive with eye glasses on.” I am now thoroughly deflated as well as speechless. I dazedly return to Dr. Fred’s office, for the third time in six days, to get three sets of numbers: 20/30, 20/100, 20/40. Which I could have written in myself. But no, I am law-abiding, thus vulnerable to abuse.
Friday morn, the 22nd, dawns like a sparkling bottle of champagne. I head for Lincoln Park like someone who has just received coverage by Obamacare. As I wait for the doofus in front of me to make the DMV left turn, I kiss the rear of his SUV ever so slightly; embarrassing and a dumb thing to do. A tall Korean chap immediately puts his emergency blinker on and jumps out to survey the damage. I mean, wow, I barely nudged the car.
Waving and bowing my head in apology, I mouth a mea culpa. He moves to re-enter his car, only to turn around, scowl and shake his head to reemphasize his displeasure. Finally, at long last, he makes the belated turn into the parking lot. Being a brilliant strategist, I make a point of parking far away from Mr. Unhappy SUV.
Without concern for waiting line or appointment hour, I stride directly to Window Eleven. Smiling Donna awaits. I triumphantly point to the properly filled out form. She has me thumb print once again. [Why?] The computer causes another delay and frown. It turns out their modern technology, which must have “Mr. William” red-flagged for some mysterious reason, has no record of my having taken a photo. [I had, twice, before the written exam, just last week!]
After all that has transpired, why raise a ruckus over a repeat performance in front of a camera? I go, click, return. Finally everything appears to be in order. Except for one lingering concern:
“Did you take the driving test?” Donna casually inquires as she continues to focus on the computer screen.
Now, as all CR2S readers are aware, I am an upstanding citizen, trustworthy and honest with several other positive attributes. A man of character. But when the question was posed, my mind starts to whirl like a slot machine revving up a winner: my computer record is obviously completely incomplete, so I blurt out: “Yeah, Donna, and I got a perfect score,” which was the truth; but failing to point out it is was two years ago – at Montebello – after an initial failure. Leaving out those details didn’t strike me as criminal. Finally she hits the “print” key.
Joyously I sign on the dotted line and kiddingly say I hope I never see her again. She laughingly replies, “Maybe in five years.” At that very moment of high glee, I feel a tap on my shoulder.
It’s Mr. Korean SUV driver. And he’s pretty large. We’re in a public place with people all around, but I check to make sure where his hands are. I have a cane in mine.
“You should be more careful when you’re driving behind someone,” he sternly admonishes. Maybe it was more like lectured. I nod in assent and touch my right eyebrow in mock salute, all the while smiling. He’s not. Oh well, so much for Asian relationships.
In hasty departure, I find myself behind a Lexus Lady hesitating to make a right turn onto Mission. She takes so infernally long, my patience is tested. Should I or shouldn’t I? No I decide, lesson learned, not even a horn honk to scare her into action. Suddenly she inexplicably backs up!
Like anyone would do in said situation, I pull the hand brake and jump out to check for front bumper damage. [I don’t make these stories up, people.]
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.