DS19 got a letter in the mail from the DOT a couple of weeks ago, but didn't bother to open it until last night. Turns out he had an old, unpaid speeding ticket that he forgot about. The DOT didn't forget, however, and the letter was informing him that his license was suspended as of 12/18 for non-payment. Um, that's today.
Panic! Crisis! Help, Mom! What do I do?!?
Since his license was suspended, he couldn't drive himself around this morning to take care of the ticket and to get his license reinstated, so he begged me to show him where to go and help him get everything straightened out.
Never one to miss a teachable moment, I seized upon the one-on-one car time to discuss responsibility, consequences, etc. Shared with him that he may not be able to fix this today. That he may be barred from driving for some time, as the wheels of bureaucracy are notoriously slow to turn. I prepared him for the potential pitfalls - first at the Clerk of Court's office, where he had to pay the ticket and secure proof of payment, and then at the DOT where he had to provide proof and jump through hoops to reinstate his license.
I reiterated that driving is a privilege, not a right, and told him to prepare to be frustrated, disappointed, and potentially angry. And then lectured him that regardless of how he was feeling, he must act with humility and gratitude.
So why, dear bureaucrats, WHY did you make things so effortless for him? Where were the long lines of disgruntled people? Where were the inexplicably confusing forms? Where was the random redirection to another office? WHY DID IT ONLY TAKE 3 MINUTES TO PAY THE FINE?
Ok, so slight teachable moment setback on the clerk of court front. That's ok. Next step was the DOT. No one emerges unscathed from the DOT, right?
There was just one person in line in front of DS, and they were finishing up when we walked in. The DOT clerks were laughing, cheerful, and personable. They told him he lucked out - the suspension had yet to be recorded on his license, so they were able to back it out of the system without it going on his record.
In and out in 2 minutes. No fuss, no hassle.
The hell? HELP A SISTER OUT, PEOPLE!!! I needed this to be painful! And memorable! I needed this to be drawn out, confusing, and frustrating as all get out! I needed DS to get a major kick in the butt to reinforce the importance of being responsible and staying on top of these things!
We got back in the car to head home. As I put the car in reverse, DS put his hand on my arm and said, "Mom? I've learned my lesson and I'm not going to forget it. I'm so sorry that I put you out like this. Thank you for helping me. I don't know what I would have done without you."
Never mind, bureaucrats. I guess I don't need your help after all. You can call me NIK
"Sometimes it takes a good fall to know where you really stand."