By Tom Groenewal
Day 5 November 21, 1991
Big day in town today. I go to the state of Washington License Bureau to apply for my driver license. Mr. Jensen is there behind the counter dressed in creased pants, white shirt, tie and attached to his belt is a gold badge like a detective. On the wall is his title “Supervisor” and he has certificates to prove it.
I am the only one in the place and I step up to the counter. He gives me the official smile and asks, “What can I do for you?” I tell him of my need for a Washington Driver’s License.
“Do you have a current license from another state?”
“Yes, from Michigan.”
“Okay. You will not be required to take the driving test, just the written test. You’ll want to take this booklet home and study. A lot of things have changed since you got your first driver’s license.”
“Well, how many tries do I get if I can’t pass it the first time?”
“You get three tries for $7.”
I decide to give it a try without studying and hand him my fee. He does my paperwork as I browse through the booklet to pick out the particulars for the questions that are always on these tests. What is a safe following distance? What is the offense for drunk driving? How long does it take to stop if you’re going 45 miles an hour?
No sooner do I sit down to take my first try without studying and in walks Judy and her Dad. Both are nervous but ready for her first driving test. Dad informs Mr. Jensen that Judy has read the booklet and gotten a lot of driving practice. She is ready for the examination.
Dad sits down and Mr. Jensen goes out the door with Judy for her driving test.
“I’ll be right back,” he tells us and goes out the door and locks it behind him. Locks it behind him? I look at Dad and ask if he also thinks we were just locked in the building. Yes, he thinks we are locked in and acts as though we had better be quiet because Mr. Jensen may have surveillance equipment to listen to what we might be saying while he’s out for the driver’s test.
I get up to check the door and sure enough, we are locked in. Within 10 minutes they are back. She passed the test and Mr. Jensen, the supervisor, proclaims to an imaginary audience that she has gotten the same score as her father did when he got his license.
A new laminated State of Washington Driver’s License for Judy with necessary information, height, weight, eye color, and a gold star for passing the written and driving test.
Mr. Jensen comes over to check my test and finds three wrong answers, but enough right answers to award me with the State of Washington license. I notice he marked one of my answers wrong when it is correct.
“Mr. Jenson,” I say, “one of my questions is marked wrong but it is correct.” Unlikely, he thinks. He looks, draws a few diagrams and determines that I am correct.
“This is a problem,” he says. He said will have to contact the State offices and tell them they will need to change the book. He is proud of this situation and no doubt he will be part of the investigation and reprinting process.
The mug shot photo is next. Click. After the photo is developed Mr. Jensen tells me that maybe we should take another because of the glare on my glasses, the picture doesn’t look so good. I think he is proud of me for doing so well on the test without studying and maybe he thinks that I’ve been keeping up with the laws in my spare time. He rewards me with a second attempt.
License photos are a big deal. Try having a bad photo for five years. Everyone can demand to see your face. The second try is good — great, actually.
I had a good morning with Mr. Jensen and feel proud the State of Washington gave me a license.