Monday, March 18, 2024

Seeing the road ahead

Among the many busy days I’ve had lately was Wednesday of last week. That day I ran several errands, took care of some important business, and as a result of that, I saw one possible aspect of our future when the story concluded today. I really have been busy.

On Wednesday last week, I went to an optometrist mainly for a driver license renewal vision test, but also for an eye health check. I last saw an optometrist 10 years ago—and that was also because I needed to renew my driver licence. Back then, the issue was that my expiring licence said I needed vision correction to drive, something I no longer needed after I got LASIK eye surgery back in 2008 (and I talked about the procedure a few days after it was over).

I wanted an eye check-up, but I also wanted to order some prescription reading glasses, too, because cheap ones from a supermarket or chemist have the same strength in both eyes, and mine aren’t the same as each other. However, my specific motivation was definitely the driver licence, because I don’t like those vision test machines at the renewal place. This way, I could take care of two things at once.

The place I was going was on the other side of the city from me, and my appointment was at 9:30, so I figured I better leave the house extra early due to morning traffic, which, it turned out, was going the other direction, so I got there plenty early—and in retrospect, I probably should’ve realised that. In any event, whenever I have an appointment in the morning I have an absolutely awful night’s sleep, so I began the day quite tired and sleepy.

It turned out that the shopping centre where the optometrist is located also has a place where I could renew my driver licence, something that private organisations are contracted to do on behalf of the government. In Hamilton, my choices were the same place I got my car’s Warrant of Fitness last month (NOT an appealing option), or the place I actually went to. There’s also a supermarket there and a petrol station that was offering 20 cents per litre discount if I used my Everyday Rewards loyalty scheme card, so I planned a morning of errands while I was there.

I ended up renewing my licence in mere minutes: It was so fast, in fact, that I said out loud, kind of accidentally, kind of not, “this is soooooo much better than going to VTNZ!” The agents, two of whom weren’t serving customers at the time, laughed and thanked me, one adding, “we hear that a lot”.

My new licence will be for ten years again (we used to have lifetime licences that were paper and didn’t have photos). However, this is my last 10-year license: Next time (assuming…), I’ll be 75 and the licence will be for five years. Then, at 80 (big assumptions…), it’ll be for only two years at a time and I’ll need a medical certificate from my doctor for each renewal (to verify I don’t have physical limitations that would prevent me from driving safely).

A lot can happen over fifteen years. Fifteen years ago, Nigel and I had our Civil Union ceremony and party, so 15 years from now (assuming…) will also be at least as different from now as now is from 2009.

I’d arranged to meet up for lunch with one of my sisters-in-law, and my brother-in-law joined us, too, at new place a short drive from the shopping centre (after I bought my discounted petrol, of course). After lunch, I went to the nearby Woolworths (more Everyday Rewards points!), and then home to a very happy Leo.

That brings this story right up to today: My new driver licence arrived in the post this morning, the first day that was possible since I only renewed it last Wednesday, and because we only get mail on M-W-F where I live. I think that’s pretty good service! My signature on the new licence looks very little like my actual one—I found it difficult to use the stylus on the well-used tablet sort of thing (plus I sign my name maybe once a year, if that). Ironically (to me), my signature actually looks like what it what might when my license expires in 2034, on my 75th birthday. Also, about 2034 and being 75: WTF?!! Or, more accurately, HOW TF is that even possible?! When I saw the date it expires, I thought to myself, “…assuming I haven’t already”, and then followed my sardonic joke with, “I hope that’s not when I expire”. Both are valid, actually.

When I looked at my new licence, I noticed it has a subtitle my old one didn’t: “Driver Identity Information”, and I instantly thought of all the weird conspiracies the cookers will say that one line is about. I recently found out the cookers have come up with all sorts of elaborate conspiracy theories about the new Everyday Rewards loyalty scheme cards (seriously!), so there’s pretty much nothing they won’t create paranoid and delusional stories about. I wonder if we’ll still be dealing with that sort of nonsense in 2034.

My busy Wednesday last week was a day I got a lot of stuff done. When the story concluded today, I saw one possible aspect of our collective future. Maybe that means that I just need to keep really busy, for a lot of reasons.


Roger Owen Green said...

I have more to do than the energy to do it.

Arthur Schenck said...

Totally get that! That's my every day of every week. However, I don't get why I missed approving your comment until today…