Getting Stuart’s driver’s license was a three-year quest. In hindsight, I know that I started him too soon, even though it’s legal at fourteen. It began well when he passed Driver’s Ed and the written test with ease. It was just the driving part that seemed to get in the way. Fact: our expedition is as appealing to a young driver as maneuvering an Abrams tank through the mall parking lot. (My first driver got his license at sixteen but chose a year-long no-driving strike before conceding to the tank.)
For Stuart, the biggest obstacle was the Cross-Eyed Trooper—Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles Self-Appointed Gate Keeper. He was fat, tall, and extremely mean. Stuart failed twice under his watch, once out of sheer nervousness. Hated by all, including his co-workers, he handed out failure slips with maniacal glee.
Our third effort to get the license proved successful. I stood in the waiting room praying and peeking. “Please, God, don’t let Stuart get the Cross-Eyed Trooper, pleeeease.” Test-givers manned desks horizontally placed before the excessively long line of licensee-hopefuls. One-by-one they were called forward.
“Please, God, please,” as Stuart inched his way to the front. “Let it be the smiling, jolly African American Trooper or the woman.”
“No, God, no!” as Stuart was called to appear before the Cross-Eyed Trooper.
“Why, God, why?” as Stuart joined the smaller Road Test Group.
Then, I don’t how, another trooper appeared like an angel sent directly from Heaven, and Stuart was ushered out to his test and came back with a pass slip and we laughed and rejoiced and did high fives in line for his license photo and celebrated with a hamburger.
I have Cross-Eyed Troopers in my life ... obstacles so scary that I become paralyzed. The Cross-Eyed Trooper means failure. He doesn’t go away; he grows meaner and bigger the more I ignore him.