Thursday, May 12, 2005

America the Beautiful

Today is a holiday at my school.
So here's my schedule, with my daughter's court date for last month's accident as its focal point:
Yesterday afternoon: Suddenly remembered that my daughter might lose her license in court today, so raced to meet her at P.O. at 4:30 so she could apply for a new passport while she still has a picture ID in her possession. Informed by hassled employee that they only do weekday passport apps between the convenient hours of 9 and 4. Look at application and ask if she can use her old passport to prove both her citizenship and her identity. Am told no; she MUST have her license because her passport picture (which looks exactly like her) is too old and my presence is inadequate to verify her identity even though, since she is under 18 and obtained her first passport before age 16, my presence is REQUIRED. Get in car and read on app that she CAN use ME to prove who she is. I don't bother to go back in. I am remembering very clearly how they would not allow me to verify the identities of my boys when they got their first passports, despite the CLEAR instructions from the Department of State of the United States of America labeling such as a clear option.

Today, 8:30-9:30: Drive to courthouse of county where she had her accident.

9:30-9:45: Wait for officious bailiff to announce our presence.

9:45 -10: Court hearing. Magistrate is decent and recognizes that daughter made an error of judgment in a bad situation that might have been a problem for anyone, but still puts 2 points on her license and suspends it for 30 days. (In our county, where the judges recognize that points and license suspension for juveniles basically punish the parents, in the form of higher insurance rates and the need to drive said children around, the penalty for a first offense is to bring in 50 cans of food for the homeless after 6 months and, assuming no further incidents, the record is wiped clean. If said child gets another citation in those 6 months, they throw the book at her. MY child was, was, of course, approximately five feet over the county line when she made -- ahem -- a rather large mistake.) She is permitted to drive to school and senior project but we have to turn in her license and get paperwork indicating same. Magistrate agrees that we can hang onto the license for 24 hours so she can do passport application.

10-10:15: Wait for officious bailifff to let us see the clerk (right behind him) to pay fine and costs.

Interlude: Explain to daughter the old saying: "People often feel the need to insist upon demonstrations of authority in exact inverse proportion to the level of power they actually possess."

10:30-11:30: Drive to home P.O. for further demonstration of above maxim. Clerk says casually, "Oh, with you here and her old passport, she doesn't need her LICENSE." I mention that I had asked her about this yesterday and note that she has just added 2 hours of driving to my day. No apology or even blink of recognition forthcoming.

11:30-12:30 Get lunch, go home for a change of clothes, drive daughter to senior project site.

12:30-2:30 Drive back to county courthouse to turn in her license and collect papers saying what her restrictions are. We have forgotten to mention that she takes voice lessons outside of school. Clerk says too bad; you will have to petition the court or drive her yourself. Drive home.

3:30-4:30 Retrieve daughter from senior project.

5-5:30 Daughter has to drive to school for concert. Please God let there be no more traffic incidents.

7:00 I have to drive to school for concert. Another hour's round trip. Isn't this a great day off? Well, it's spring and there will be music at the end of it. And right now I feel an intense need for chocolate chocolate chip.

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