The Latest Member Of The Gang

Yesterday another step towards motorcycular freedom was achieved: I took the written exam for a license and am now the proud owner of a permit. It’s been a generation or two since I’ve had to take a driver’s test, and the first flaw in the previous sentence came at me all too quick; there is no more writing in tests administered by the State. No, it’s all computer-y and stuff, with touch screen answers and instant results, so of course I don’t trust it.


I passed, much to the chagrin of high school and college professors who never thought I’d be able to pass any test in any form. The real tragedy of the whole situation is that there were several teens who were busy NOT passing this 25 question exam, despite there being available a manual which will tell you EXACTLY the kinds of questions you’ll encounter. Apparently I am NOT the epitome of lazy, since there were at least two people who couldn’t be bothered to read. And how hard were the questions, you ask? Let me cite several options that were available in my study manual.


1.) Usually, a good way to handle tailgaters is to: b.) Use your horn and make obscene gestures
2.) Making eye contact with other drivers: c.) Is not worth the effort it takes.
3.) When it starts to rain it is usually best to: a.) Increase your speed.
4.) If you are chased by a dog: a.) kick it away.
5.) If you wait one hour per drink for the alcohol to be eliminated from your body before riding: d.) You cannot be arrested for drinking and riding.

These were actual study guide questions and potential answers, I kid you not. The smartass in me wanted to answer with those options, but since I’m not ready to be an Outlaw Biker just yet, I thought I oughta answer with what they, The State, wanted. When the computer told me I’d passed, I raised a fist in the air as though I’d just won the Mensa World Cup, answering spatial physics questions. It would’ve felt the same.

I made my way back to the examiner, who, with her hair piled high and pinned in several locations, quizzed me on street signs. I answered them….mostly. Apparently the triangle shape on top of the people crossing the road? Yeah that means they’re crossing near a school, an answer I guessed at, then triumphantly fist pumped again when I got it right. She then sent me to the second floor to complete the bureaucratic process, which involved a hideous picture in laminate and more waiting around with nervous teenagers and one old guy who smelled like a dumpster and cussed in a quiet tone the whole time.

Time came to settle up with The State of Missouri for all of this effort. I’d brought the check book and 13 forms of I.D., remembering well my experiences with the California DMV which have been scientifically proven to take years off of a persons life. As she handed me a pen, arching her eyebrows at me (didn’t care for numerous fist pumps, I guess), she gave me the grand total for this whole extravaganza:


Seriously. Three whole mothertruckin’ dollars and four bits. How could I possibly have wasted two State employees’ time, a half hour and a laminated I.D. card only to have it cost me less than a megaventiquad frappamochachinnissimo? And we wonder why government runs in the red. I was beyond incredulous, and made mention of such to the administrator as I wrote a check for $3.50. She assured me “No, honey, that’s just for the permit. When you take your driving test, your license will run you $10 for three years.”

Oh. My bad.

As I took the time to celebrate with one obligatory Guinness at Patton Alley Pub (conveniently located two blocks from the State Office), I pondered the enormity of just how little it costs us to be licensed. It blew my mind. No matter, I was now one step closer. I paid my tab and headed home.

The bill?

$4.50. Plus tip.