In 2011, I lost my driver’s license because of my epilepsy. I was cast into a role of dependency, and I hated it.
“You can have your license back if you remain seizure free for 18 months,” my doctor assured me.
“Take your medication, avoid ‘high-stress’ situations, and everything will be right as rain.”
Like anything is ever as simple as people make it out to be. I did my best, and after eighteen months I went to get my driver’s license restored.
“I’m sorry,” a chubby woman said around a mouthful of donut, “we need a letter from the doctor who told you this. Plus, it needs to be notarized, and you need to retest.”
She shoved an envelope toward me and pushed another donut into her mouth.
“Plus, there’s a fee associated with the reinstatement. It’s 150 dollars. We accept check or money order. Thank you. Have a pleasant day.”
I flashed red with anger, snatched up the envelope and stormed out of this off-shoot office of the DMV.
“Nothing is ever simple,” I growled as I rushed across the small parking lot. “So much for avoiding high-stress situations, commander.”
My driving ability had not eroded, that much was clear I thought, as I drove through the heavy traffic of Colorado Springs.
“First things, first, I need to get the letter from Commander What’s Her Face. Then, I need to hit the bank.”
The medical clinic sat on the backside of the fort. I flashed my ID at the gate guard, and she waved me on through. It took several minutes for me to make my way to the clinic, but finally, I pulled into an empty parking spot at the bottom of the lot. I got out and smoothed down my clothes.
“God forbid, I go in here and look like I rolled out of a dryer.”
A nice civilian lady sat behind the counter. She raised her eyebrows and favored me with a professional smile.
“Hi, what can I do for you?”
“Um, hi. I need to speak with Commander Jones. It is concerning the reinstatement of my driver’s license.”
“I’m sorry, sir. Commander Jones is no longer here. The Navy transferred her to a different posting.”
“So, what do I do now?”
“You will need to be retested. A new doctor will be assigned to you. We can start in two or three months. Once the doctor feels comfortable with your progress, he or she will sign off on you getting your license back.”
“I was told to stay seizure free for eighteen months. It’s been 24 months. I don’t want a new doctor. I want the freaking letter signed.”
She hit me with the professional smile again. I resisted the urge to choke her in front of the entire waiting room.
“I’m sorry. That’s not how this works.”
“Apparently, nothing here works. You lying sack of-“
I turned, and for the second time that day, I stormed out of another building. “It’s like these people want me to have a seizure.”
Rage clouded my mind as I rushed across another parking lot. I flung myself into the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut on the blue Mustang.
Tears stung my eyes, but I refused to give in to the urge to scream. I felt something wet on my cheek, and I angrily wiped it away.
“How dare they do me this way,” I rasped. “I was a good soldier. I did horrible things for this country, and this is the thanks I get. I don’t think so.”
I gripped the steering wheel and tried to twist it off as I tried to regain a sense of calm. It didn’t work.
“Don’t break the car, Possum. That’s all you would need, to be stranded here with these incompetent loons.”
Slender fingers of pain gripped my head, it ached so bad that it felt as if someone had cracked my skull open and was ripping it apart. A ten-piece band of cymbals crashed around in my ears as my tinnitus flared up.
It took everything I had to get home safely. As I rounded the last set of stairs, and I saw a notice on my door. “Now what,” I grumbled as I snatched it off the door. The door next to mine cracked open.
A dark-haired male, his hair hung in clumps about his neck, his two hazy eyes peeked out at me.
“Rent’s going up, man. I don’t know how I’m gonna make it.”
“Me either. At this point I might have to settle for being homeless,” I said as I unlocked my door. “It’s that or starve.”
I walked into my dark apartment and slammed the door behind me. My day had started off so well, but now it was nothing more than a charred ember in my pile of ashes.
“At least I have whiskey,” I whispered as I poured myself a drink. Then, I walked to my recliner and let out my footrest. I leaned back, took a sip and reached for my controller.
It was time for my distraction. Someone had once said when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade. I’d rather freeze the lemons and crack people in the head with them.
Five years passed, and several hundred dollars of wasted ‘fees’ later, and I still had no driver’s license. On the eighth day of January 2016, I moved home to Mississippi.
Immediately, I began trying to get my license. I ran headfirst into the same governmental bureaucracy I faced in Colorado.
A heavy-set male sat behind the counter and shoved a stack of paperwork toward me.
“Fill all this out. Have a doctor sign off that you’re healthy enough for a license and bring enough money to cover the fees. That’s all there is to it.”
“Oh. Is that it?”
“That’s it,” he said around a frown.
“Well then, let me go find a doctor I can bribe, and I’ll be right back.”
He looked around my shoulders and yelled, “next.” I snatched up the paperwork and stormed out.
This continued for the better part of the year. Every effort I made was rejected. Finally, I sat down and wrote an email to the governor of my state. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it went something like this:
My name is Freeman. I recently moved back home after serving abroad in the military. Twice, I deployed to warzones in service to this country. My career was brought to a halt by epilepsy which was caused by the blast of an IED and stress.
I’ve been seizure free for five years now. My epilepsy is controlled via medication, and still, I can’t get my driver’s license. No one will help me. So, I’ve resorted to writing to you.
I’m not asking for your help. I’m telling you; you’re going to help me. Why? Because it’s the least I deserve after putting my life on the line for you jackasses.”
The next day, before noon, I received a call from the head of the DMV.
“Is this Mr. Freeman,” an angry voice snarled at me.
“Go to Corinth and pick up your license.”
I hung up the phone without saying thank you and rushed into the house.
“Guess who got his license,” I shouted at my parents. I can’t remember who drove me to pick up my license, but I remember the thrill of finally receiving it.
Like Pinocchio, I felt like a real boy. I walked out of the DMV with a million-dollar smile and a freshly printed driver’s license.
Now, it was time to find me a truck.