Wednesday, January 9, 2013

License to Panic

I don’t scrapbook the way I used to.  Time was, I would take every opportunity to spend a couple dozen hours poring over photos and programs for kids’ activities and ticket stubs and the like.  Now it’s maybe once a year.  Maybe.  So when my friend, Julie, invited me to a scrapbook event at her church last weekend, I thought I should go.  Especially since the last time I had scrapbooked was at the same event the previous January.

I was not prepared for the weekend, so I went to gather my coupons for my local craft stores in order to stock up on paper, adhesive, a blank scrapbook, and insert pages.  I opened the desk drawer where I generally stick my weekly Jo-Ann mailer and was disappointed to find that I hadn’t saved the last one.  But what was that little card at the bottom of the drawer?

It was a reminder that my driver’s license would expire on my next birthday.  November 3rd.


I had a small heart attack.

I had been driving with an invalid license for two months.  I am not proud of this.  I can blame it on my undiagnosed ADHD all I want, it doesn’t change the fact that this was completely irresponsible.

My very first priority at that moment was the renewal of my license.  My brain went into panicked overdrive.  Would I get a scolding? A fine? Would I have to take my drivers’ test over?  How could I even GET to the licensing station knowing I would be driving illegally? What would my father say? Why was I worrying about what my father would say? Aaargh!

The phone rang.

It was a friend from my 12-step program.  Did I have time for an outreach call?  DID I!  I couldn’t think of anything more necessary right at that moment.  I spilled the story at a feverish pace (I’m amazed he kept up), and then listened while he talked me down from the panicked ledge I was teetering on.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  I wasn’t going to jail.  The person behind the counter was a bureaucrat and didn’t care about my deadline. Yeah, it was illegal if I drove to the licensing site, but he’d never known a cop who would give someone a ticket on their way to renew their license.  Then again, he encouraged me to drive carefully.

Blood pressure normalized, I thanked him for his wisdom and hung up.

At that moment, I let it all go.  It was no longer in my hands (it never had been).  I just had to do the next right action and leave the outcome up to God.  The licensing station in Edina opened at 10:00am.  It was now 9:15.  I had two errands, which conveniently, were in Edina and on the way to the station.  I gathered my coupons and headed out.  Carefully.  I might have been all serene about everything at this point, but you bet your backside I was the single most courteous and law-abiding driver in the south metro last Friday morning.

I stopped at Michael’s and got what I needed there.  I headed to Jo-Ann and got what I needed there.  I pulled out of the Jo-Ann lot at 10:01 a.m. and saw the licensing station was a block away.  I found a good parking spot (what?!?).  It turned out the station had opened at 9:00am so there was no line to check in.  I took my number, filled out my application, paid my registration fee, did my vision check, had my picture taken, and was out of there in under 25 minutes.  No one said WORD ONE about the fact that I had been driving without a valid license for 2 months.

What had just happened?

As I pulled out of my parking spot and headed back to France Avenue, there was a police car in front of me.  I felt a sense of sunny camaraderie with the officer.  “Pull me over if you need to,” I said cheerfully to myself.  “I have a valid driver’s license!”  I turned right onto France and saw that the very next left was the street I needed to take to get to my church to pick up some things for my daughter’s homework project.

As I tripped happily down West 70th, I thought, “I can’t believe how smoothly this has all gone!  Unbelievable!  I hadn’t needed to panic, just go with the flow.  And how well it all flowed!  Amazing!”

I’m not advocating forgetting to renew your drivers’ license on time.  But I am advocating talking to another calm, rational person when something like this happens, and then letting it go.  Seriously.  Because there was nothing I could do at the moment I realized my mistake except go fix the problem.  And once I traded in my panic for acceptance, I was able to do what needed doing with a positive attitude, come what may.

I had a lovely weekend scrapbooking with my friend.  And I’m very grateful to her for inviting me and unintentionally bringing my negligence to my attention!


  1. Great story! It's interesting how we push against the current so often. Sometimes it's wise to do so - but it's usually better to let the "water" take us where it will. We'll reach the destination, whether via adventurous rapids or getting caught in the eddies for a while.

    Happy 2013!


    1. Too, true. We all need to be reminded once in a while. I just hope next time it happens it doesn't come with the heart attack! :)

  2. Calm and rational are qualities that generally help nearly any situation. Good lesson to learn (and share). :)

    1. Calm and rational are more frequent for me these days, thanks to Program. But, boy, it sure is "progress and not perfection!" :)