Fifty Shades of Dave

Photo Jan 29, 3 06 29 PMI don’t know what things are like in your state but in California, a trip to the DMV – Department of Motor Vehicles – is always an adventure.

And after taking my motorcycle exam a few times over the last few years, I thought I was through with my DMV visits. How wrong I was.

Here’s what happened. Ann’s birthday is in March and she got her driver’s license renewal letter in the mail well in advance. With my birthday only weeks away, I had yet to receive anything and time was running out so a call to the DMV was in order. And if you’ve ever tried calling the California DMV you know it’s a real pain to get anywhere. So what did I do?

Got on the Tweeter and asked @CA_DMV my question, naturally. I had an answer and phone number in a matter of hours. Ain’t technology grand?

I called and got through right away – this was their main office in Sacramento, I believe. I told the clerk my situation and she asked for my information so she could see what was going on.

It turns out that there was a hold on my regular Class C license after I failed to convert my motorcycle permit into a full-blown endorsement, meaning I didn’t renew or take the skills exam. And because of that hold, the renewal forms weren’t sent to me.

I told the clerk I wasn’t riding anymore and I wasn’t interested in the endorsement. She then cancelled the hold so that I could go to the DMV and fill out the forms to renew my license.

The problem there: getting an appointment. Ann tried for days to get one at our local office in Long Beach and couldn’t. She’s going to one in Orange County later in the month. She has time still. Me? Not so much.

After the call, I headed back to my work desk and immediately went to the DMV website in the hopes of snagging an appointment before my birthday/expiration date. No chance, I figured.

I ended up getting one a few days later – in Long Beach, no less. I had to text Ann and gloat about it. She replied with nasty Bitmojis.

Monday comes around and I leave work for a bit to take care of this business. I managed to find a parking spot no problem and since I had an appointment, didn’t have to wait with the garlic-eating masses outside who didn’t have an appointment.

When I was called I told the clerk the nature of my business. She gave me the form and I filled it out with only one notable change: my weight. I added a few pounds to it. Hell, I’m honest.

I went back and she double-checked it, then issued me a number to see another clerk. I waited maybe 10 minutes before I was called to another booth.

The clerk who helped me was a younger guy and rather affable, more than most others at the DMV. We chit-chatted as he went over my renewal form. All was going well until he spoke up about one detail.

“Hmm. On the computer, it has your hair listed as gray,” he said, pointing at his monitor with a black Paper Mate pen.

Strange. My current license has my hair as black. Then again when I renewed it I still had black hair. Then it occurred to me that when I went for my motorcycle permit, I must have written in “gray” for my hair color. He continued.

“So which one do you want me to use?” I was writing out a check for the renewal fee at the time. I put the pen down.

“Well, being I plan on letting nature take its course, let’s go with gray. I’m not bald and I’ve no plans to dye it. In fact I just had an inch-and-a-half trimmed off. Shit was past my shoulders.”

He was cool. Casual profanity didn’t phase him.

“Really? No way!”

We then chatted a bit more, mostly about aging, as he continued to process my information. He had to be in his early 30s and I gave him a little advice (as if my being nearly 49 qualifies me to be an expert on growing old).

“Man, just enjoy yourself. Stay young at heart. That alone will keep you going. And when your hair starts turning gray, embrace it and be glad you have it.”

And with that, he thanked me and sent me to the photo booth for my picture. Oh, and I had to take the written exam – again – and then wait about 10 days for my new license.

It arrived a few days ago. And although I’m thinner than I was in my previous license photo, the adjusted weight is definitely closer to reality.

And the hair? Proudly abbreviated as GRY.

Because this head will never see a drop of Just For Men.

Dave’s Rules of the Road


Driving since 1982


Now that I have gotten a somewhat respectable (albeit temporary) job, I have once again joined the ranks of the thousands of commuters who drive the freeway to get to the office every day. And in so doing, I’m getting a grasp on what it was I missed out during my time of unemployment.

Take, for example, today.

While traveling down the southbound 405 into Orange County, I witnessed a woman that was slowly–and I mean slowly–making lane changes whenever she had the opportunity to do so. The woman, in her 50s with a Moe Howard hairdo and driving an SUV, had her hands in the dreaded 10-and-2 position, a stance which indicates to us veteran drivers (click image above) that the driver of the vehicle is either a) offer her nut or b) just graduated from Sears Driving School yesterday.

Seriously, nobody drives that way in SoCal. If you do then you’re probably the type with a comb-over, thick, dirty prescription glasses, faded Bush/Cheney bumper stickers and ham radio call signs all over your beat-up Ford Festiva. A creepy dude. Me, I usually have my hands in the 7-and-bag-of-Carl’s Jr.-fries position. Because I’m cool like that and I don’t have a ham radio.


But what made this woman’s hand position even more malevolent was the fact that she wasn’t just holding the wheel that way. No, if that steering wheel could talk it would have probably said, “Jesus Christ, woman! Ease up!” Her grip was so tight on the wheel that, even though she was already a shade of pasty white, her knuckles were a whiter shade of pale that has yet to be named: Ultra White, Super White, Electromagnetic Spectrum White, Brilliant White…whatever. It seemed she was so fearful that someone would simulate a game of Spy Hunter by dropping an oil slick in her lane that removing one hand from the wheel, if only for a nanosecond, was unreasonable and most certainly would put her life in jeopardy.

That said, all of her lane changes where made without signalling. Yes, in her quest to survive any potential freeway catastrophe that a 50-something woman with cat-like reflexes (HA!) might encounter, she wasn’t thinking about all of the other drivers around here that she was cutting off–myself included.

Thanks for nothing, lady.

So then I got to thinking about the little things that I do to make my drive, as well was that of my fellow motorists, a bit easier and more friendly. I now proudly present that list along with a few other handy-dandy tips for anybody that cares to try them. Ready? Here we go.

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Turn! Turn! Turn!

Ladies and gents, I did something on my way to work–or train station, that is–which practically killed me.

No, I didn’t try to set any land speed records for a 4-cylinder Ford Escape not did I speed through an intersection when my light was blatantly red.

But what I did do was this: I didn’t use my turn signal my entire trip.

Yes, you heard me right. I decided that I would try and refrain from using these most useful of automobile mechanisms just to see what it was like to be a self-absorbed prick that thinks that everybody on the road knows where they will turn next.

And the result? I felt nasty, dirty, and downright ignorant for doing so. I seriously did because, and you may call me a goody two-shoes for this, but when I was taught to drive I was told the importance of using turn signals all the time. That’s what I’ve always done and still do. Now I may not always use my signal when there are no other motorists within arms length of me; it really won’t matter then if I don’t. I also admit to not exactly obeying the posted speed limits all the time, but for all intents and purposes I consider myself a safe driver.

But when you’re trying to turn left at an intersection that notoriously gets backed up because the passing commuter train will stop traffic, leaving you in the middle of said intersection while your light goes from amber to red, those people making right turns in front of you need to USE THEIR DAMNED TURN SIGNAL!

Holy crap, people! Use some common sense already! There have been many times when I was waiting for cars to pass so I could turn left behind them but at the last minute they begin their right turn, sans signal, leaving me to drive to the next (and further) intersection so that I wouldn’t be sitting in the middle while the opposing light turned green.

Look, turn signals have been standard features on cars for many, many years. And they are so freaking easy to use! You reach out with your finger apply slight pressure to the lever in the direction you intend to turn, and everybody knows where you are going next.

But no, there are those–I’m looking at you, luxury car drivers*–that think that their turn signals are controlled telepathically or trust that everybody around them is psychic and will automatically sense their next move. Those are the self-absorbed pricks I mentioned earlier.

I could try to beg and plead with those people to start using their signals but meh, why bother? I’ll just continue to chug along and be the cautious driver I was taught to be, and know that I’m not one of those jackasses that I despise so much.

* Hey, we have a Lincoln and use its signals all the time. There are some exceptions.

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