Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Part II - Trust that Bigger Things are in Store for You -- Driver's License

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Getting around New York City was really easy. Back in those days (1982-1998), I had a choice between taking the subway or a cab, riding my bike or as I often did, used my feet to get around town.

It was during the early eighties that I somehow lost my driver's license. I assumed that when the expiration date drew near, the Department of Motor Vehicles would automatically send me a renewal form. Had I bothered to investigate, I would have discovered that it was my responsibility, not theirs, to submit the necessary renewal forms in a timely manner.

But what did I care? After all, I reasoned, why have a car in New York when it was virtually impossible to find a parking spot and on the lucky few times when you did find one, an enterprising traffic cop would almost always cite you for some ridiculous parking violation? Didn't they have anything more important to do, like catching hardened criminals or something?

What I didn't know was that if your license was not renewed within a certain time frame, the law required that you go through the whole process of re-applying for a new one all over again. That meant getting your eyes checked, taking several weeks of driver's ed followed by a written multiple choice test and then a road exam. All of this would take weeks, if not months.

One day, I felt a strong urge to get my affairs in order, including getting a new driver's license. On the face of it, there was no reason to do it. Several more weeks passed without taking any action until the urge became so strong, that I could no longer ignore it.

With great reluctance, I signed up for drivers ed during the winter of 1996-1997. After I took all of the required classes and passed the written exam, a road test was scheduled for January 1997. A week after the appointment was made, a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles came in the mail with instructions to meet the examiner in Brooklyn, NY on a specific date and time.

When I got there, there was a small group would-be drivers shivering in the cold, waiting for the examiner to show up. They were mostly high school boys and girls who had just turned sixteen. I was probably one of oldest people in my thirties there that day.

After what seemed like hours, I spied a small black four-door Nissan with “Department of Motor Vehicles” emblazoned on the side, making its way over.

“Oh God, I hope I go first, I’m freezing,” I said to no one in particular.

The examiner took forever in gathering her papers, made what was probably an unnecessary phone call and sloshed her way through the wet snow to where we all were standing. She took roll call, fast reading off a litany of names, making her speech somewhat unintelligible, even for an expert lip-reader like myself.

I inched a little closer, furrowed my eyebrows and zeroed in on her thick lips, hoping to catch my name tumbling out of her mouth. Instead, I found myself wondering if she recently had her lips injected with collagen! I shook my head vigorously and forced myself to focus a little harder.

Finally, she blurted out something that vaguely looked familiar to me. "Hopson, where is Mr. Hopson?"

My hand shot up in reflex, albeit a little too quickly.

"Here," I replied. Had Ivan Petrovich Pavolv, the famous Russian scientist from the 1800's, been with me that day, he would probably have rewarded me with a large biscuit or something.

As soon as the examiner was done with taking attendance, I immediately approached her to make her aware of my situation (the incident with the James Bond lady from the bar in Soho was still fresh in my mind).

"I just want to make you aware that I'm deaf and that I lip-read. Okay? "

She nodded and then gave me a fake smile.

"How reassuring," I thought. "At least we're not driving to some swanky hotel today," I mumbled under my breath.

The examiner's eyebrows shot up, "I beg your pardon?"

Surprised that she overheard me, I said, "Oh, it's nothing. Ummm, I'm ready when you are."

With a smirk on her face she replied, "Well, Mr. Hopson, it just so happens that you're the FIRST one on my list for today's road test. SHALL WE?" She eyed me suspiciously and pointed to the government-issued car.

After climbing in with the examiner, she said sternly, “Mr. Hopson, the first thing you're going to do is parallel park. Remember, you’re only allowed 3 reverses. Please drive up the road here and park right between those two cars (pointing up ahead).”

I was sixteen all over again.

Somehow I managed to squeeze between two abandoned cars and then we were off making the required left and right turns, stopping along the way here and there. As we drove through what looked like a drug infested neighborhood, I wondered for a brief second what I would do if we suddenly got caught in a hail of gunfire between rival gangs.

Yeah right.

Snapping back to reality, I realized the examiner was instructing me to get on the highway for some real-world experience.

Thirty minutes later, we went back. After I parked the car, she smiled for the first time, revealing pearly white teeth and handed me a slip of paper saying, “Congratulations, Mr. Hopson. You'll be receiving your driver's license in a couple of weeks.”

Six months later an opportunity came my way to work on a book project in another state, which required that I get a car. And what do you need in order to drive?

Exactly.

That explains why I felt a strong urge to renew my license even though there was nothing to indicate the need for one. After moving a thousand miles away (via U-Haul truck), I went out and bought my first car, made easier becuase I listened to my intuition (eventually!) and took appropriate action.

Food for Thought: God has a plan for everyone. Trust that He knows what you need to do next. It's up to you to take action and the rest will fall into place naturally.
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2 Comments:

Blogger Thea said...

Hello there Stephen. You're right, I must like your work to publish an article of yours twice! Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting. I thought I'd return the favour.
For your readers Stephen, here are the links to my blogs: http://www.forwardsteps.com.au/FSBlogs.htm
Stephen can be found on the Leaders Are Readers blog postings dated 20 and 30 August 2006.
Have a great weekend and I wish you success. Love from Thea

10:04 AM  
Blogger Thea said...

Oops! Got those dates wrong. Would you please correct for me before posting my previous comment, Stephen? The dates are 22 and 27 August.
Cheers, Thea

10:22 AM  

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