Friday, August 03, 2007

A detour through the Twilight Zone...

I'd promised to take Number One Son to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to get his learner's permit, so no bike ride for me today. Instead, I drove the car to work, hammered away at a computer and some other electronic equipment for half a day, and then left work before noon. Honestly, working half a shift on Friday isn't bad. I could make a habit of it.

I came home and woke Jordan. Yes, it was almost noon. Yes, he was still in bed. I sat down to eat my lunch while he got ready. That consisted of him throwing on the clothes he wore yesterday, and then sitting and staring at me while I wolfed down some sandwiches. He sighed heavily and often. The kid could give Al Gore some pointers in that regard.

Unfortunately, the nearest ODPS office was closed for remodeling. It's over in Claremore, an easy 15 minute drive. We had to go to Tulsa, Broken Arrow, or Jenks, and all those addresses are on the other side of town. We chose Broken Arrow, thinking it might not be busy.

Oh, contraire! When we arrived, there were no seats left in the waiting area. People stood around, leaning on the walls and sitting on the floor. A sixteen-year-old Elvis impersonator came in, if you can imagine an Elvis as big around as my wrist. His sneering lips curled back when he spotted the crowd. "We're gonna be here for the rest of my life!" he said in a loud Okie twang, shattering the whole Elvis thing.

It was a diverse crowd populated with Hispanics, orientals, a couple of suspected extraterrestrials, and the usual assortment of rednecks. Then it got weird.

Jordan's number was called after only an hour and a half of waiting. He had all the necessary papers: birth certificate, school enrollment affidavit, driving school enrollment certificate, successful completion of his eighth grade reading test (Really. This is required here!), and a personal blessing from the Pope. When we talked with the agent, she noted that the school enrollment form was for last year, not the coming year. I had to sign a form indicating that I would indeed enroll him in school this month. Now, we have compulsory school attendance, so I can't see the need for this form, but when dealing with a government bureaucracy, you can't question it. You simply have to comply whether it makes sense or not. I'm just glad we didn't need an affidavit from his substitute teacher in fourth grade who was only around for two weeks.

Jordan took the multiple-choice test. They photographed him and ran his index fingers over the biometric scanner. After more paper-shuffling and rubber stamping, we were finished.

Or rather, we were finished at the Department of Public Safety.

In Oklahoma, you have to get all your paperwork at ODPS. You get the actual learner's permit at a local tag agency. We drove back across Tulsa and went to the tag office in downtown Owasso. The wait there was only about 10 minutes. They photographed him again, with me wondering why, and they ran his fingers across the biometric scanner again. In short order, we were out of there with a brand-new permit.

Jordan wanted to drive home.

"No," I said, "you're not ready to drive on major streets." He grumbled and whined.

When we arrived at home, I had a glass of water, and then went to lie down awhile. I'd started my shift early and I was tired.

Jordan, meanwhile, tried to wheedle Mary into taking him driving. She said no, but he persisted. When I got up, the atmosphere in the house was a little bit tense, Then he started to work on me.

He has a date tonight, and he wanted to drive there. I said no - again - because it would involve driving on a major arterial. I was met with more frosty stares and heavy sighs. Just like a terrier after a rat, he'd try from one side and switch to the other, never giving up and never backing down. I was doing a slow boil when his sister got home from work and said she wanted to go with him. Better yet, she offered to drive. It prevented my temper from exploding.

I can see that the whole driving issue will be another bone of contention. Such is life for parents of teenagers. But after spending an afternoon waiting in line, shuffling papers, and meeting people I hope never to meet again, I've developed an new-found appreciation of my bike. It's just so much simpler.


Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

I actually know teens who aren't the least bit interested in driving, believe it or not. Some of them are children of public transportation or cycling nuts; others are so accustomed to the parent-chauffeur that they can't imagine any other way to get around.

In California, if you don't want to wait you can make an appointment for things like new licenses and what-not.

1:23 AM  

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