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My driver's license came up for renewal this month. When it was renewed four years ago, an elderly clerk kindly said I needn't have a new picture taken because I looked the same as I had four years prior. This year, a pubescent clerk took one look at me and pointed toward the camera. I took solace in the fact that his badge read, "Trainee," and he'd sent everyone ahead of me to get a new picture, too. Or maybe it was the fact my photo looked like a 1980s glamour shot, and I ... didn't.

Standing in the "express lane" for much of the afternoon, I eavesdropped on the other DMV hostages.

"Glad I don't have to take a driver's test again to keep my license," someone mumbled. "Once was enough."

"Yeah, once," I thought. "Keep your head down, don't make eye contact, lest you feel compelled to confess. It only took you once for the Bar exam, praise the Lord. Only once for entrance exams and SATs. And you aced the written portion of the driver's test. Let's just keep that driving part to ourselves, shall we?"

It was the summer of ... many years ago, and my peers were abuzz with tinkling keys after going to a neighboring town to take their driver's tests.

"But, Ma, no one is taking the test here in town," I pleaded in dramatic teenage fashion. "They say there's one mean lady who won't pass anyone!"

My pleas fell flat. My mama had to work, so Gram would be taking me to the test -- and there was no way she was driving 60 miles for a test I could take within our city limits.

I breathed a sigh of relief as a middle-aged male officer came to the passenger door of our Oldsmobile. He had me start the car, drive a short distance and apply the emergency brake.

Unbeknownst to me, the brake didn't work. He sympathetically explained he had to fail me for bringing faulty equipment to the exam.

The following week, a scowl-faced female officer with thick, lime-green eye shadow sat beside me. Doom permeated the car. I drove the block at her commands while she scratched feverishly on a clipboard.

"Failed!" she proclaimed. "You didn't come to a complete stop at that intersection."

I felt sure I'd stopped, but offered no argument. Downcast, I asked her how I should stop, so I'd know next time.

"You'll know when you've stopped," she sneered, exiting the car.

The next week, Officer Jade Eyes and I went for another joyride. When we got to the intersection, I came to a full and complete stop.

OK, it's possible my lower-teenage-self came to a dashboard-bracing, seatbelt-catching stop. She glared. I grinned.

I met success during my fourth and final week as a nice officer handed me papers and bid me best wishes in my wheeled freedom.

"Yes, it's best to keep that story to ourselves," I chided myself. "Who knows, it could end up in the paper or something."

NAN Our Town on 03/30/2017

Print Headline: Head down, eyes averted, don't confess

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