As I am writing this story, I am down in Phoenix, only 3 days after my retirement from P&G (read me). Kim and I are trying to ensure at least one of us is visiting monthly to maintain the house before we one day move here on a more permanent basis. I have a car here, my 2001 Ford Escape so one of my chores on this trip is to get it registered and titled in AZ. That was supposed to be yesterday’s chore but the blower motor on the home HVAC system chose this day to go out. That was 6:30 pm. I spent the night sleeping on the couch, with a fan blowing directly on me all evening. The house got up to a balmy 90 degrees. Ah, retirement….ain’t she sweet!
This morning was spent at the AZ DMV. There were two offices equidistant from my house. I drove to one and saw a huge long line outside before the office opened so I drove home, waited an hour and then headed over to DMV, choice B.
I’m not very good in groups, but I like 1:1 conversations quite a bit – even more so if it happens to be with a cute female. While standing in the long information line, I spoke a long time with a nice young lady named Chelsea, every bit of 4’10”. She was only 21 and so I related via my own 20 year old, still at home. Chelsea couldn’t wait to get out of her parents’ house and so left at 18. She was going to night school and was teaching at a daycare center to make money to pay rent and said that it was pretty much a paycheck to paycheck thing. (See Tim, it can be done).
When I was younger, I had a sense that sometimes girls were flirting with me (usually they were blind or desperate). Nowadays, I know that they’re looking at me as a nice, older ‘father figure’. I kinda’ like that – I never have to worry about accidentally sending the wrong signals. As a father figure, I get to act wise and knowledgeable, (acting being the operable word here). I guess she enjoyed our conversation because when we had to be seated, waiting for our number to pop up, she came over and sat next to me. A cute kid – I gave her one of my social website cards and told her I was writing little stories about growing up. If you come and check out the stories, you now know who’s writing them.
So Chelsea, I hope you stumble on this story because today’s story is dedicated to you and all of us who hold down day jobs and try to better ourselves by putting in the extra time in classes, Remember what I told you. Stick with it! The night school and part time days thing can be very arduous. There will be more trying times and sacrifice than reward, but the reward will one day come as long as you keep a positive attitude and remain steadfast.
My number, (J583), was soon called to station number 19. Rozella told me that I needed my wife’s signature on the form since the title had both our names. That’s when I put the old Wyatt Charm into overdrive. Rozella was about my age and in a good mood. In the nicest, flirtiest-sounding voice I could muster, I asked her if there was any way I could get this done today. It either worked or Rozella was just feeling sorry for the aged and unprepared because she worked up my title. Next question – can I get an ID card without invalidating my current CA license? After all, I’m on a fixed income now and need those resident’s rates for our golf rounds. Rozella – well, technically I’m supposed to send you over to the line and other stations, but here – take this form down to station 1 and tell them Rozella sent you, then come right back. Done and done, true – Rozella took care of me as she promised.
In 1989, I was asked to transfer to Louisiana. We absolutely loved our 5 years in LA and there will be a number of Louisiana stories. It is fitting that this one is the first to hit the press because it is one of my earliest LA memories. And with that, here is today’s flashback memory.
Unless you move to Manhattan or some other place where you have absolutely no intention of driving a vehicle, when you move to a new state, any state, one of the very first things you have to do is to get your new state driver’s license. We had heard from the locals that the LA written test was fairly difficult and we were advised to study for it. My wife’s Ohio license was due to expire before mine so she figured she had better get herself down to the DMV to get a new one.
She called me at my office one day, almost in tears, telling me she had failed the written test. “I feel like an idiot. That test was so hard and it had a ton of questions I’d never seen before.”
Aww…I felt sorry for her, poor thing. How hard could it be? I’m a pretty good test-taker. Perhaps I should go down there, take the test and then carry home with me my recollection of the answers so I could help her out? That was the plan anyway.
So I didn’t tell my wife what I was up to – I wanted that to be a surprise (I’m such a good husband). The very next day, I left the office early and headed over to the local DMV in Alexandria where we lived. I stood in line and when it became my turn to step up to the information booth, I told the nice lady that I wanted to apply for a Louisiana driver’s license. Yes, I’m new to the state. Yes, I currently have a license. It’s from Ohio, here it is. Yes, that’s me in the photo – I had a sunburn that day. No, my hair was not green. It’s blonde – sometimes it can look green in certain lighting.
“Alright, take this test with you. Stand over there in the test-taking area. Fill out the form and answer the questions in the test with one of these #2 pencils. When you are finished, get into one of these lines over there – any line will do.”
And so, with the easy Louisiana driver written test in one hand and my #2 pencil with the teeth marks in the other hand, I quickly made my way to the testing station where I was prepared to breeze through this baby. Yes indeed, I am a good husband!
1) Pedestrians have the right of way when?
a. At a red light
b. When walking their dog
c. When they are walking with a cane
d. When they are crossing an alleyway or driveway
Huh? Is this a real question? Don’t they always have the right of way? You mean I’ve been dodging them all these years when I could have run over a few? Maybe this is why it came to be that I was once run over?
2). If another vehicle is following you too closely, do you?
a. Press hard on your brakes
b. Get behind them and turn on your high beam lights
c. Tap your brakes gently, slow down and let them pass
d. Drive slow and make sure they can’t pass you
Ok, easy – everyone knows you either block them or else get behind them and flip on the high beams!
3) A policeman is at a traffic light and motions you through a red light, do you?
a. Wait for a green light
b. Obey the police officer and go through the red light
c. Run over the police officer
d. Sound you horn after the light turns green to alert the officer
Hmm…well I strongly sense that it would be wrong to run over an officer…but aren’t most multiple choice correct answers C?
And so it went for 20 questions.
Uh-oh, I’m in trouble! This test is much harder than I thought it was going to be. There were 20 questions and if you missed 7 of them, you failed. I knew I had failed the test, I just KNEW it. You don’t always know when you pass a test and get 100%, but we all know it when we fail one….don’t we? (Yeah, you know what I’m talking about). One thing I knew – I had failed that test.
What I was about to attempt, I had never before tried but I knew girls got away with it often when getting pulled over for speeding, so why wouldn’t it work for guys? I stood there for a couple of minutes, carefully surveying the window clerks. There were six or seven of them. I watched each carefully, looking for signs of showing me a good mood, maybe even flirtatious behavior. And I saw it. A younger girl, a little heavy set, maybe 6-7 years younger than I at the time, very cute face. She was wearing a broad smile and appeared to be speaking in a carefree manner with another man. What the hell – I got into her line.
As I was standing in line, I kept thinking about what I was going to say when it was my turn. Do I tell her how cute she is? No, that’s too desperate. Slip off the marriage ring? Too obvious, dork move. No more time, it’s my turn….ok Rob, turn it on, you can do this.
“Hi, I just moved in from Ohio. Boy, I didn’t expect this test to be so tough. There were a lot of questions on there that seemed to have several right answers.” I hadn’t yet handed her my test as I was trying to get her to be sympathetic to me. “I hope I passed, but I’ll tell you – if the worst to happen is that I have to come back to see you again, well I guess there are much worse things that could happen to a guy. Y’all, (yes I used the word “y’all”), must have the prettiest clerks in Louisiana (wow, I was laying it on).”
But it appeared to be working. I had handed her the test and bam, bam, bam – I watched her cross out three in a row on the front page. If I missed 7, I was done. Then she flipped over the paper and I watched her moving slower through the test. When she had X’d out 6 wrong answers, she put down her pencil. I don’t recall what else we said to each other, but while she was grading my paper we had been continuing our chitchat. At one point during the “grading”, she reflected, (mostly to herself), “well yeah, I could see how that answer might be this”.
And with that, she flipped over my test, wrote a big “70%” at the top then tore it in half and tossed it into a waste pail, and with a big southern belle smile, looked at me and said, “well you passed”.’
Only because there are considerate, understanding belles like yourself miss DMV Super Clerk!
When I got home, I showed my license to my wife. Her reaction was surprise – you didn’t tell me you were going today. No, I wanted it to be a surprise because I thought maybe I could help with some of the answers.
Well, can you?
And there is where I figured I had to fess up with the truth. So I retold what had just happened.
My wife didn’t laugh. Her reactions were along the lines of how ‘that’s not fair’ and things like, ‘what did she look like, I’m going to go down there and get her into trouble’.
But after a few minutes, the situation began to sink in after I had asked her if she had ever gotten out a speeding ticket with just a warning just because the officer was a man and you were a cute girl? She had of course, several in fact, – all women likely have or will at least once in their lives.
It was while working as an Assistant Mgr at Taco Bell I learned that if you wanted something from others, it was much better to treat people in a nice manner vs. a sour one – something about catching more flies with honey than with molasses comes to mind.
On this day, yours truly had managed to throw out a fair share of honey and had scooped up a nice southern belle-fly. It sure beat catching flies in junior high! (Read me)