Permitting Stress

Last year I wrote a column about my experiences in renewing my driver’s license. It was not pretty, and I seemed to have struck a familiar chord for all drivers faced with the same dilemma. It was a stressful situation, and I don’t think things have improved too much – in fact, they may have gotten worse.

I say that because a few weeks ago our 15-year-old daughter talked us into allowing her to get a driver’s permit. Naturally, she studied for the test, and I took her out on Sunday afternoons to practice driving in large parking lots. As the day approached, I started to get anxious, because I knew the process was going to be anything but convenient.

The city actually has a website where you can see what the lines look like both inside and outside the licensing offices. It’s exactly like a traffic cam, and from what I saw, there was no ideal time to go. You see, the line is the same for driver’s licenses, IDs and learner’s permits. And those same line participants also have to stand in another line for the cashier.

By the way, here’s a big tip: Both parents, married or not, have to accompany any minor wanting to get a learner’s permit. That boils down to the entire family having to stand in line in order to achieve the first step of this task. And each task requires you to go back in line for another step and maybe two more times until a permit is obtained if the test is passed.

I saw several kids with a lone parent not even make it through the first gauntlet. And they don’t find out until after they’ve waited in line to get up to the clerk. If you get past that point, you then have to stand in the cashier line to pay two bucks for your child to take the test. After the test, and if your child passes, you have to go back into the cashier line to pay for the permit.

At the location we went to, there was only one cashier and he was not only collecting payments, but also issued the tests and took the photos for the permits. Do the math. Your time for this entire process will easily approach 120 minutes.

In the end, however, our daughter passed with flying colors and received her permit.

As we left, she turned to me and asked, “Daddy, can I drive home?”

Now the real stress begins.