A few months ago I got a notice from the Division of Motor Vehicles that they knew I had a birthday coming up and would I please come by and renew my driver license.
Because I am, as Sheriff Taylor used to say to Deputy Fife, a nut, I started obsessing about this. What if I failed the test? How would I get to work? How would I get home from work? How would I vote in 2016?
For advice, I went to my wife, who - truth be told - is a couple months older than me and had already gone through this. Where I was committed to memorizing the entire North Carolina Driver’s Handbook, as revised Jan. 2012, she told me that I just had to learn up on the road signs.
So for probably six or eight weeks, I have been walking around with two pages of Chapter Five of the Handbook folded in my shirt pocket - Warning Signs and Regulatory Signs.
A Warning Sign is like the one with a cow on it that is intended to tell the motorist that cattle may be crossing the road.
One of my co-workers tipped me to be careful not to confuse the Divided Highway sign from the Divided Highway Ends sign. That tripped her up.
A Regulatory Sign is like a sign that says “Speed Limit 70,” which means “Speed Limit 85” in American.
Thursday morning, I went to the DMV office in Clayton, where I live. There were three pleasant-looking women dressed in official DMV uniforms. At 8:12 a.m., I was the only one in the waiting area, a group of chairs marked with letters. One of the women called out “A Chair” and I walked up, produced the necessary documentation, and stuck my head in the whatchamacallit, the eye chart/sign test viewer. I passed both tests, although I missed the blank sign that looked like home plate. It is the school crossing sign.
Then the nice woman who gave me the test sat me down for my photo, and after tilting my chin up and down and up again she was satisfied with the elevation of my face, and snapped what I fear will be a Mickey Rourke-like picture of me. I will know in 7-10 days when my new license arrives by the postman.
And that was it. I was in and out in about 15 minutes, and was treated like a good customer through the whole experience. There was nothing to worry about. I am, indeed, a nut.