Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When is LOL Not Funny?

That's today's riddle. Answer: When she's in the car in front of you doing 15 in a 35 zone. LOL in this case, of course, means "Little Old Lady", who is only marginally worse than an LOM. Especially if that LOM is wearing a hat. But you probably already know that.

Recently I inadvertently let my drivers license expire. For about five months. (Hey, I've been busy!) Anyway, I had to go to my local Dept of Licensing outlet (which mysteriously does not handle vehicle license renewals -- my Jeep was also expired; that took a trip to the local privatizing-enabled "licensing agent" who charged their tacked-on premium on top of the regular renewal fee) and wait in the "sitting room" -- or sit in the waiting room -- for my name to be called.

It was amazingly quick. With blinding speed I got called in only 89 minutes.

So I shuffled up to the counter and mumbled something about hoping I wasn't "in trouble" for driving so long on an expired license. I fully expected to get the "lecture finger" and have to endure the memorized spiel about the importance of renewing on time, etc. So you can imagine my surprise when my only penalty was a $10 surcharge.

No lecture, no finger wagging, and -- most surprisingly -- not even an eye test! And certainly no general medical questions, such as, oh I don't know, "Have you had a stroke?"

Okay, I will be 67 years old on my next birthday. Which seems to be rushing up towards me with the exponentially-increasing speed of a runaway train bearing down on a pale frail heroine tied to the tracks.

But I digress.

At my age, a lot of us "senior citizens" -- aka old people -- start to develop vision problems. I suffered from cataracts for several years until I finally decided to bite the bullet and get them taken care of. Fortunately I had health insurance through my job, but even so my doc the eye guy and I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get them to pay for it. As if someone would want to go through that harrowing experience for the fun of it! The point being that many old people have only Medicare (for now) and may not have a such a smooth path to vision correction. Which means they won't bother with it because they don't want to jump through all the hoops, can't afford the copay, etc.

So once again, back on topic. I think it is unconscionable for the state licensing agency to be so cavalier about it. At the very least, they should have insisted on an eye test. Next time I'm up for renewal, I'm going to go in withopaque shades, a white cane and a borrowed seeing-eye dog, just to see what happens. If anybody says anything (which is doubtful) I'll whip off the shades, drop the cane, set the dog loose, and announce, "Surprise! I was just fuckin' with ya!"

It is anathema to the "gray panther" crowd to even suggest that old people ought to be required to take a periodical driving test. Go ahead and ask your typical AARP retiree and you'll find out that even they would support the tests, but not the vocal minority who claim that it is "age discrimination".

Which brings us back to the Little Old Lady who was impeding traffic today on Capitol Way. A simple ten-minute even driving test would have been sufficient for even the Dept of Licensing to suspect something was wrong, suspend that license and no longer allow her to drive.

The gray panther crowd points to statistics to "prove" that older drivers are safer than, say, sixteen-year-old terminal testosterone cases stoked by alcohol and hormones. Okay, I'll grant them that, but that's pretty much beyond your traditional apples-and-oranges. It's more like apples and Roman candles.

Statistics are wonderful things, but they do not show the incidence of accidents which are indirectly caused by slow drivers who provoke -- there's no other word for it -- other drivers to take matters into their own hands and pass the slow driver, only to meet a truck full of live chickens head on. The LOL goes on about her business while the rest of us are left to stew in a slew of chicken feathers, mangled beaks and feet, and blood.


Sarge said...

New to your blog - good stuff. Dad will be 87 a week from Friday and Mom follows him in early December again at 87. We are close to taking her keys away. Her sister already has became a pedestrian courtesy of the state.
Know when to say when doesn't just apply to drinking and driving - It works for driving period. Your remarks about vision were exactly on target - depth perception goes to hell fast - I am only 62 and don't like driving at night.


Terry said...

This is fairly new in Nevada:

"Drivers 70 years of age or older at the time their current driver license expires are generally required to undergo a medical evaluation at the time of renewing by mail. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well. In preparation for this, you can review the Nevada Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal."

I wish it had been in effect the year my 73 year old dad had 3 accidents, in 3 months. We (his kids) tried to take his license before the accidents, but our mother objected because she didn't want to have to drive him around.

Contrary to how the law actually reads, they require me to go in every 4 years for renewal so they can do an eye test (I'm 60ish). It's a pain in my butt, but I'm kinda happy they do; my husband drove for two years nearly blind until he got his cataract surgery.

Love your blog. Welcome back.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks for reading, guys. Any more I hate to drive at night myself. And I used to love it. But times change, your body changes, and you've gotta roll with the punches.
But that said, I am not looking forward to the day when I have to surrender those keys. Since I was 16 years old they have been a symbol of personal freedom.
--The F Man

Sarge said...

That is the worst of it for a senior and I know that. Sir, that is the very reason I am moving back down to Evansville from Indianapolis - Dad and Mom are turning 87.
Mom will be the first and agree easily - Dad will be a cat fight.

Ah, the joys of being the oldest kid.
Hey, lots of Vietnam shit on my blog - I would like your input.
If you are religious and the skin offends you - just scroll down past it.



Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, Sarge. Here's a clickable link to your blog One Angry Zebra.
I'll check it out more thoroughly, but on first look I didn't see anything religious that someone could be offended by. Not that I would be -- I am a card-carrying Non-Theist.
--The F Man