Shortly after 9 last night, I drove Nebra up to a McDonald’s for an ice cream cone. I was worried she would get motion sickness without a grip on the wheel. For the last five months, she has been my chauffeur at night. My driver’s license was restricted to daytime-only in early February. I couldn’t pass the Arizona eye exam. Before that, on January 22, I realized during a trip to Hawaii that my license had expired several months before and didn’t drive at all for almost two weeks.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, I sucked it up and went in for another eye team at an MVD office out on 51st Avenue. It was the same place that flunked me before.
This time I was slightly better prepared. I’d had three eye surgeries in 42 days. Two were for cataracts in each eye and the most recent one was for a macular hole in the right one. I was fairly sure I could pass since I had tested out 20/15 with the left eye Barnet Dulaney Perkins where I had the surgeries. Arizona requires only 20/40 vision to receive a license.
The office was busy as usual. I saw only one other Caucasian, a matronly woman who appeared to be in her 60s. The rest were minorities, mostly Hispanic, some blacks and a scattering of Asians. The Hispanic woman in front of me was hoping to transfer her license from California without proof of a local address.
I received the eye test before being given a number on the waiting list. I stood before the eye chart near the front counter and pressed my head forward to switch on the light. As it turned out it was a close call. While my left eye and overall vision passed, the right eye again failed. Thanks to the gods, I was allowed to fail one test but not two. The right eye had been operated on three weeks ago for the mac hole and is not fully recovered. The “wrinkle” in that eye prevented me from clearly reading the 20/40 line.
So, for $12 and an hour and a half of my time, I’m back in business for night driving. My license notes on the back side, “Restrictions: None.” I had a new photo taken, this time with a smile. I looked like the saddest sack in the world in the last photo, mirroring how I felt at the time, knowing I had months of exams and operations ahead with the uncertainty I would ever be able to drive in darkness again.
You do not know how much liberty is taken from you with a daytime-only license. It was not only dependence on someone to get you somewhere. It limited what I could do in any given day. For example, I like to do my gym workouts in the evening. But since I couldn’t, I was forced to mince them in to the day. My schedule got crowded, I got irritated and the gym workouts suffered.
The goal of the eye surgeries was very simple. While, yes, I truly wanted better vision and to read without eye glasses, the most important thing was to drive again at night, whatever it took. I wanted my independence back.
The trip to McDonald’s was uneventful. I was elated, and the best I could tell Nebra was too busy enjoying her dessert to worry much about whether I’d drive us into a light pole or a canal.