My birthday was fast approaching (actually, it's tommorow), and one effect of dreading the aging process seemed to be postponing renewal of my driver's license. As the deadline loomed, I began to analyze my reluctance.
Despite my accident-free record, I could not just renew via email or take the vision test and a new picture and get an extension of four more years, as usual. I had to take a driving test, which meant that I could not renew my license downtown, but had to drive to the far north side. For obvious reasons, no road tests are given in Chicago's crowded Loop.
There were other issues, too. Do I really need to own a car? It's expensive, thanks to insurance, licensing, and parking costs, and I drive as little as once a week. Am I an old and incompetent driver? I hope not. The "giving up driving" dilemma seems to hit all elders sooner or later, but I'm only turning 77! I still hope to know when it's time to give up, since I don't have a family to decide for me. Anyway, I finally decided to take the test and see what happened.
I realized that, as far as I can remember, I had only taken one road test, on the occasion of my originally getting a license. I started driving later in life than many do, but that happened in the late 1950's. No wonder I was terrified! Would I be asked to parallel park (something I've never been good at)? Would the examiner make me nervous? I approached the exam with anxiety.
The first positive thing I noticed was that senior citizens were allowed to go to the head of the line in the crowded facility where we took our vision tests. I passed that, but what I feared most was still ahead. After a fairly long wait in a line of cars, I was relieved to see a seemingly nice young woman enter my car for the test. It turned out that she was, indeed, nice and non-threatening.
The good news is that the test was easy. I'm good at using turn signals, stopping at stop signs, and observing traffic. I didn't have to parallel park. I managed to avoid the cones when I had to back up (something I don't do particulartly well). I passed, had a ridiculously bad photo taken, and soon had my new license good for four years. I was elated!
By the time my license runs out next time, I'll be over eighty (if still alive), and I may well be ready to give up driving by then. I've already vowed to make my 2003 Mini Cooper my last car. It's easy to get along without a car here in the middle of the city, but I guess I had to prove that I can still drive. I'm glad things turned out as they did.