The Scariest Day Of My Entire Life

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Publisher
August 24, 2017

I have been in the war. I have sailed a thousand miles in the sea. And I have run my own business for 53 years.
But the scariest day of my life was last week when I showed up at the local motor vehicle department to take the test for my license renewal.
It never occurred to me until I arrived that this could be a time when they take the most precious thing in my life from me — the right to drive my own car.
The last accident I had was when I was 17, but that doesn’t matter.
The fact that I have driven safely in 10 different countries, and thousands of miles in California, is no assurance that my license will be renewed.
My wife made the first important decision. She made an appointment for me. It meant I didn’t have to wait an extra half an hour, standing in line with my knee surgery barely healed.
I managed to get the last seat available and it was only 20 minutes until my number was called.
Things had changed a lot since the last time I had taken a test.
The local Motor Vehicle Department has become a lot more organized, and that’s lucky because there were a lot more people waiting.
My number was called and I was asked to take an eye test. Only one of my eyes is good even with glasses. The first fear struck me and that was, not being able to pass the eye test. The woman who handled my case was very nice and said I would have to go to another visual machine to make sure my eyes met the minimum standard.
I thought I saw great in my one eye. Why did I need both?
Sorry, the Motor Vehicle Department wants you to use both eyes even though one is weak. It must be a “21” and mine was a “27”. What a relief.
Now came the test. It was about 20 questions long, but one was only allowed to miss three of the questions.
They are simple questions but in a way they are not so simple. They involve vehicle and pedestrian safety. Things which I should know, but maybe never deal with.
Once finished, I was asked to sit down while the test was graded. I know the grading is done by machine but still there the 10-minute delay while I waiting to get the final verdict had to be the longest 10 minutes I have ever had to wait. I felt like it was an electric chair and that I was about to get the full 1,000 volts or whatever it took to kill you.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, a lady looked at me and said “You passed!”
I wanted to jump to the ceiling. The thrill was unbelievable. I had just won the football game of life. I would get to drive.
“How long is the license good for?” I asked.
“For five years,” she said.
My God … I will be 85 the next time I go through this.
The scariest day of my life was over.


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