Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Insurance Companies and Purgatory

So, over the holidays, we were at a family gathering when TDW-Mark II’s niece (an adult) departed to go home.

Shortly thereafter she returned to inform us that, due to the poor lighting and TDW-Mark II’s petite vehicle, she, the niece, had inadvertently struck my wife’s vehicle, leaving a dent.

BFD, bent metal, no bent people, all good.

So, we went to our insurance company in order to get the bent sheet metal, unbent. We could, indeed, have our insurance pay for it, since our vehicle was parked, BUT!, we’d have a chargeable accident and likely would see our insurance premiums rise. From the currently affordable, reasonable, “Give us all the money and nobody has to get hurt!” levels we currently enjoy, that is.

THAT sounds attractive!

Or, our niece’s insurance company could foot the bill.

The niece made her report to her insurer, and shortly thereafter I had a conversation with one of their genius, script reading (Thanks, Beans on June 3 ’19), slack jawed, pompous personnel.

It seems that, let us call it “County Garden Auto Insurance”, requires that you take your broken vehicle to one of their adjusters for an estimate. In this area, the freaking capitol of the freaking Un-Named Midwestern State, the (insert pejorative here) adjuster only works freaking Wednesdays, and, into the bargain, Young Ms. Mensa informed me that, since mine is the name on the title, well, I would have to show my happy hairy ass up with the bent vehicle for the estimate.

Well, ya know, I work Wednesdays. 12 hours. Days. I told Ms. Mensa as much. “Ma’am, I will not be attending this estimate. I’m working, my wife will be there acting as my agent.”

“Reltney”, she replied (and, as an aside, I had been previously unaware that she and I were quite that chummy), “You have to be there, since the vehicle in titled in your name.”

“Well, Ma’am, I’ll be working, and so my wife will be there with the vehicle.”

“Reltney, you have to be there!”

“Ma’am, I will not be there. My wife will be acting as my agent.”

“Reltney, you have to be there for the estimate!”

“Ma’am, perhaps you should write this down. My wife will be there, I will not. She will act as my agent, and I will be working.”

“Reltney, if you are going to be hostile, I cannot continue to talk to you. I’m simply trying to tell you how this process goes.”

“That’s fine. So, tell me my options.”

“Sir, it you are going to be hostile, you will have to talk to another agent!”

(My thought, at that point, was along the lines of, “Sugar, if you think that I have been hostile, you really, really have a severe poverty of life experience, that, should you desire, I can remedy!” A thought that went unspoken.)

“Ma’am, I thought you were going to tell me what my options would be? I’m waiting for that information.”

“Please hold!”

(lengthy hold)

“Reltney, your wife can meet with our estimator, but we cannot hand her the check. Can we mail it to you, or to your selected body shop?”

“That will be satisfactory. Mail it to the shop.”

“So, Reltney, what arrangements would you like to make for a rental?”

“Ma’am, we have made satisfactory arrangements for a loaner with our body shop. I suggest that you phone them, and have that conversation with them.”

“I do not understand what you just said, Reltney.”

“Call my shop, you have the name. Talk to Bob. Tell him what you just told me about a rental. Make whatever arrangements you wish with Bob about a rental. Bob will fill me in. “

“Reltney, I do not understand that, but I will notate it in our file.”

(Correctly, I hope, but do not trust…)

“Outstanding. Anything else?”

“No, Reltney, have a nice day.”

And the call ended.

Perhaps, the anticipated cluster…er, hug (HUG! Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!) will provide fodder for a subsequent blog post.

My take home lesson, here, is that there are jobs for the dull witted, and I am fated to spend my time corresponding with them.

Damn it!

Fun And Games Off Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve

Camping with my family

One Labor Day weekend, TDW-Mk I decided we ought to go camping. I was off, the kids were off, and we could all get out for one more weekend before the grind of school and autumn activities sucked us in.

She had reserved a site in the unimproved area of one of the northern state parks, a “rustic’ site. That meant that we got to carry water from one of several faucets serving the campgrounds, as well as go to the bathroom in one of several pit toilets.

The wimmin folk were not favorably impressed.

We were the only ones in our section of the campground as we pulled in, which was of no concern to us. We set up our pop up camper, cooked dinner, cleaned up, and took a walk.

Once we were back at out site, we were inside the camper, organizing for bed time when another party arrived at a site, 2 or 3 away from our own. They were young-ish, and seemed high spirited. Whatever, live and let live.

So, several hours later, TDW and I were chatting quietly, when the noise from the neighbor site picked up considerably. I peeked from our window, and noted what appeared to be bottles of some sort of alcohol in hand, and our “neighbors” sounded to be involved in some sort of loud, animated, an not altogether amicable discussion.

When we heard the sounds of yelling, and breaking glass, I awakened the kids and had them lay on the floor of the camper. TDW called county dispatch on her cell phone, and I settled in next to the door of the camper, curtain ajar and Colt in hand.

One of the party, it appeared, felt the need to do some sort of work on the mirror of one of the trucks, and this seemed to involve attempting to wrench the mirror off of the door without using any tools. That maneuver elicited yet MORE heated words, and things were escalating, which made it convenient that that was the moment that the park ranger, a couple of sheriff’s vehicles, and a city cop arrived.

One of the officers approached out camper, and I took that opportunity to secure the pistol beneath one of the mattresses, seating TDW thereon.

I told the officer what I had heard, and seen, and he assured me that for this party, their camping weekend was over. “We’ll simply sit here, and watch them pack up and depart. We’ll circulate through several times over the rest of the night, and, if they return, they’ll sleep in the sheriff’s office. In the back.”

Then he added, “If you need us, call us back. Have a nice weekend!”

Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Accident Letter

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and responding to some sort of emergency or other. It was my day to drive, and I was merrily coding along. Approaching The Major North Bound Thoroughfare as I headed west bound, light and siren flashing and a-wailing, I slowed and observed cross traffic (who had the green light), stop on the rain slicked street.

That appeared encouraging. I began to accelerate through the intersection, when, lo and behold!, I beheld a driver swing into the center lane, pass all the stopped traffic, and proceed to strike the ambulance aft of the driver side dual rear wheels.

He had built up to fair clip, because he rocked the modular ambulance pretty good. Indeed, given my own momentum, the aft of the rig slewed to the right, and we entered a skid.

I corrected, steering into the skid, and noted in passing a pedestrian on the northwest corner determine that he did NOT want to remain standing where it appeared I was going to roll over, and so he started stepping lively toward the south.

Remember that “I corrected my skid” thing? Yeah, about that. It turns out that correcting a skid, in a, oh, let’s guess 5 ton truck, is not a fact, it is a process. So, when I had corrected our slewing-sideways-towards-the-northeast skid, we NOW had a slewing-sideways-towards-the-west-southwest skid. Less off axis, so there was that as an improvement, but our friend the pedestrian (remember him?), last seen high stepping to the south, did not think much of this as it portended his own immediate future. He demonstrated this understanding, as well as outstanding situational awareness, as he skidded to his own stop, about faced, and accelerated north.

I had noticed that we were skidding kinda sideways, in a west-southwesterly direction, and so, once again, I corrected, steering into the skid. Once that had been accomplished, we were merely proceeding catty-wampus, in a more or less northwesterly direction, and, it appeared, tracking our poor increasingly frazzled pedestrian friend as if we were a pedestrian seeking missile. With target lock.

Fortunately on several levels, all these gyrations had bled off considerable speed, and I was able to come to a complete, and rather abrupt, stop, short of squashing the pedestrian.

My partners were uninjured, as we had vicariously experienced many, many motor vehicle collisions, and had scant desire to recreate the experimental results we had witnessed. We were all buckled up.

While I was attempting to determine if my SVT (supraventricular tachycardia: an accelerated heart rate running around 150-200 beats per minute) was self limiting, or my new normal, Doug figured that (a) we were not completing this run, and (b) this might be a nice thing to share with dispatch. He did so.

We checked the other driver (who was fine), and awaited the police, city wrecker, and the inevitable chat with The Lieutenant. Fun times ahead, indeed.

The officer taking the report only had about 7,000 questions, and, once he was done, dropped us off at apparatus. There, we got to switch from our rig, into a back up rig. Back up rigs were too rickety to be in front line service, but not so obviously rattletraps that they could not serve as interim ambulances until our rig was repaired. Which in our case was likely to be sometime around the heat death of the universe.

We returned to quarters (with Doug driving!), where we awaited Lt. Evans. Once he had arrived, he directed me to write a letter (standard practice) detailing the events that had led up to our nice new truck getting bent up.

At this point I was the union’s chief steward, and was familiar with the contract. One of the provisions thereof was that any member, facing potential discipline, had the right to consult with a steward prior to making any official statement. I figured that, hashing this out with another steward might allow me to avoid talking myself into (harsher) charges (than I already faced for the collision).

Another peculiarity of Da City’s system, was that it appeared that the algorithm for assessing fault ran as follows. (each yes answer advanced you one more round) “Were you driving?” (Y/N) “Were you driving a city vehicle?” (Y/N) “Was that vehicle involved in a collision of any sort?” (Y/N)

“GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!”

No shit: on one call, I had parked the ambulance in the street, four way flashers flashing, beacons in operation, I and my partner were IN THE REAR OF THE AMBULANCE, when some jackhole decided that, as IMPORTANT as he obviously was, he could not wait for us to roll off, and had to depart NOW! In the course of snaking his way out of the parking spot right next to us, he nudged the ambulance bumper, causing the vehicle to rock on it’s springs.

Like a dummy, I reported it. To my astonishment, it took the Accident Review Board SIX FREAKING WEEKS to ascertain that I was NOT at fault.

So, with these lessons in mind, I was reluctant to make any sort of official statement without at least having another steward tell me I was doing it wrong. I said so the Lt. Evans, and said, “So, sir, I officially request that I be allowed to speak with a steward prior to making an official statement, as guaranteed in our contract.”

He gave me the stink eye. “You’re the chief steward, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, go chat with yourself , and write my damned letter. Now would be good.”

“Uh, sir…?” I began.

“Mr. McFee, I am making that an order. Do so, at once!”

“Yes, sir!”

I therefore drew up a piece of Fire Department letterhead, and composed the following letter:

“TO: Superintendent of EMS

From: Reltney McFee, EMT

Subject: Collision involving Medic 23 this date

Date (date)

Sir: Lt. Evans ordered me to write a letter regarding Medic 23’s collision this date. I requested the opportunity to speak with a union steward prior to making any official statement, and Lt. Evans ordered me to write you a letter at once.

This is that letter.


Respectfully, Reltney McFee EMT, Medic 23”

I pulled it out of the typewriter, placed my carbon copy in the desk, and handed it to Lt. Evans. “Here’s your letter, Lieutenant!”

He looked at it for a minute, and glared at me. “McFee, this is unsatisfactory. Write this letter, all over again, and this time do it right!”

“Yes, sir!”

I assembled another set of letterhead and carbon paper, and captioned the next letter as before.

My opening line was as above. I asked the Lieutenant, “Sir? What do you want me to write now?”

He said, “McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!”

I typed in, “Lt Evans told me to write, “ ‘McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!’ “

“What’s next, sir?”

“Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!”

My next line of text was, “ ‘Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!’ “

“Yes, sir? What is next?”

He glared at me. Again. “McFee, get up from that chair. Do not type another word!”

I stood. He asked me, “McFee, what do you think you are doing.”

“Well, sir, you ordered me to write a letter about an accident prior to my having the opportunity to speak to a steward about a matter that might result in my being disciplined. I complied with that order, and wrote a letter citing everything that I was willing to say at this moment. You did not find that satisfactory, and ordered me to re do it. I was rewriting it to your specification, when you abruptly stopped providing me directions. Sir.”

Again, with the glare. “It is now 1300 hours. You will have that letter, and I mean the letter that you KNOW you have to write, in my hands no later than 1700 hours today, without fail! Am I making my self clear?”

“Perfectly, sir!”

He stormed out.

I got his letter to him, after a phone consult with another steward.

Oh, yes, And I got a written reprimand for my role in the collision.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

SPOUSAL ADVICE

A few years ago, I was working a locums gig Up North. TDW-Mark II and I had lived our entire lives in The Un-Named Flyover State, and one recurrent feature of the winter news coverage was the seeming obligatory photograph of the snowy expanse of the northern part of the state. Now, I had grown up in Da City, largest in the state, nestled among the northern tier of states, and figured that I knew me some snow.

Well, it turns out, at least from the photographs of nigh unto 12 foot walls of snow adjacent to the roadways, featured in these photos, I did not know squat. So, when the opportunity arose to work on the shores of Lake Superior, and with this gig an opportunity to see, for reals, these selfsame walls of snow, well, off we went!

When you work 12 hour shifts, you get 4 days off every week. My placement was accommodating, bunching my days into a 3 on/4 off arrangement. That TDW and I plenty of chances to tour the area.

Unfortunately for our intended snow tourism, the winter had been mild, and that snow which had fallen, was paltry. To be honest, we had more snow downstate, than in The Great White North.

Whatever. There was still abundant history and scenery to take in, and we set out to do so. One of our tours took us to the norther edge of the state, to a lakefront town. It was pretty, although, surprisingly, with all the tourists gone, nothing was open.

So, this episode of our curiosity sated, we headed back to our hotel. Cleverly, I suggested that we return along the lakeshore road, which ran along a bluff and overlooked, you guessed it, the lake.

Remember that this was late December, and in Da Nawth, in winter, sunset blasts past you, and night drops upon you like a net. Or, so we experienced.

Simply to make everything nice, it had begun to sleet-mixed-with-snow. Let us review the scene, now: Night? (Check!) Snow/sleet? (Check!) Unplowed Up North roads? (Check!) Slush accumulating on the roads? (Check) And, certainly not least, Anxious Wife overlooking the drop off onto the icy, rocky shore of The Lake?(Why, yes, CHECK!)

So TINS ©, There I Was, Driving Along and Making Time towards our hotel, when I splashed through some accumulation of slush. Our vehicle jogged, just a little, and TDW emitted a shriek.

I suggested that, since it was black outside as a politician’s heart (should such a thing really exist), and I generally had this under control, perhaps declamations of impending doom, absent clear indications of said doom, might distract me from successfully managing to move forward, while maintaining our position on the pavement. Some might consider failure to accomplish this to be A Bad Thing.

She apologized, and I returned to navigating and aviating (so to speak).

A little while later, a county road commission salt truck/plow overtook us (and, yes I WAS driving that slowly!), passed up, and in doing so sent a moderate sized spray of slush and whatnot onto our windshield.

TDW shrieked, again.

I slowed even more, came to a stop on our nearly deserted stretch of icy snowy roadway, and turned to my bride.

“Honey”, I began, “I realize that you have concerns about the wisdom of driving on this road, under these conditions, tonight. However, since we are something like 30 miles from our hotel, and I am unwilling to spend the night sleeping in this car, driving to the hotel is out only reasonable alternative.”

She nodded.

“In addition, you DO recall, that I have driven in snow, for something approaching 50 years, right? And, therefore, know just a little bit about driving in these sorts of conditions, right?”

Again, she nodded.

“While I realize that you want to do your part to help our drive be safe, efficient, and trouble free, I want you to realize that, whatever you may think, it is really not particularly helpful, and nowhere near as helpful as you appear to think it is, when you scream at seemingly random intervals, while I’m driving unfamiliar roads, in pitch black night, in snow and sleet, along a cliff face.

Please, stop!”

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

HIV Transfer

So,TINS©, TIWFDASL©….well, OK. I was a nursing supervisor, and therefore, in the view of my peeps, I was, at best, not an impediment to their doing their jobs.

So, in any event, this was way, way back in The Dark Ages, Before Cell Phones (Gasp! No! There were PEOPLE, way back then?!?). This was around the time that some bright clinician noticed that there was a peculiar form of impairment of the immune system, that seemed particularly prevalent among homosexuals (currently described as MSM, for “men who have sex with men” in the clinical literature), and IVDAs (“Intra Venous Drug Abusers”). Nobody was really clear on how this was transmitted, although some sort of exposure to bodily fluids originating in one of the sufferers of this malady seemed a common feature of acquiring it.

My little hospital had a drug rehab unit, the purpose of which was to smooth the discomfort of discontinuing narcotics use, so as to help the recovering addict start to re arrange the other pieces of his/her life, into a non drug dependent direction.

So, it developed that our medical director of this unit had determined that one of his patients on the rehab unit did, indeed, have this acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (You may have already recognized the acronym “AIDS”). In these dark days, the capability of treating this disease was limited to specialty units in tertiary referral centers, and therefore we made arrangements to transfer our patient to The House of God, Local Edition.

I called the contract transfer ambulance service, and provided the needful information. All was set, I turned to my next problem. Or so I thought.

On the order of an hour later, I received a page from the drug unit. They desired my presence, pronto. I trotted on up.

Once buzzed into the unit, I beheld a pair of basic EMTs, one irritated patient, and one pissed off charge nurse. I drew the charge nurse aside, and asked WTF was happening.

“These idiots are acting like extras from “The Andromeda Strain”, and refusing to take our patient unless they and he are in full isolation garb, and they didn’t bring anything. They are insisting that we outfit them with masks, gowns, gloves, masks, and surgical hats. You’ve been to the same in-services as I have. That’s bullshit. Unless they are going to share needles in the back of the ambulance, there is nearly no risk whatsoever. Could you please talk some sense into these guys?”

I invited the ambulance crew to join me in the nurse’s lounge, and asked them what the issue was. One spoke up. “That guy has AIDS. I don’t wanna catch no AIDS. That’s why we need all that protection!”

Now, remember. This was a BASIC transfer. This guy was alert, lucid, cooperative, not bleeding not coughing up amphibious life forms, continent. All in all, not spreading any bodily fluids anywhere at all. It had, I’ll admit, been several years since I had been on the road, but my paramedic license was still current, and I was unaware of any evolutions in pre hospital care on a basic inter hospital transfer that might place these guys at any measurable risk. I told them as much.

“Yeah, well, I dunno how it was way back in your day, but nowadays, well, we gotta protect ourselves!”

Uh, yeah. “Back in my day”. So, my response was measured, and professional. “Gentlemen, please get comfortable. I’m going to chat with your supervisor, and we’ll get this all squared away, pronto!”

I lied. I talked to MY supervisor, the director of nursing, and told her my little tale. She was, to be charitable, irritated, and mused aloud about her to-do list for the morrow. Prominently featuring contracting with the Non Imbecile Ambulance Service, which, so it appeared, would NOT be the employer of the happy go lucky souls with whom I had shared our nice little chat. She suggested that I share that project with the on duty supervisor of the Incumbent Ambulance Service, with the suggestion that they may want to reflect upon how far into this project they really wanted her to get. “Yes, Ma’am!”

I called their dispatch, invited them to have their on duty supervisor call me, right stat like, and awaited the return call.

This worthy was not any sort of improvement over the dolts that he had caused to be sent to us. I smiled, reminded him that we’d be in touch, and went back to the unit.

By this time, both EMTs were garbed as if for joint replacement surgery, absent only the PAPR respirators. They had wrapped the cot with plastic, and then, standing several feet from the cot, invited my patient to “Sit!”.

Nice.

I apologized to the patient, and wished him the best of luck at the House of God, Local Edition. He shrugged, thanked me for my efforts, and gracefully in demeanor, settled in for his ride.

A couple of days later, one of the medics from A Competing Service stopped me in the hallway. “I heard you put a good word in for us, and we now have your transfer contract. Thanks!”

I corrected him. “I didn’t say one thing about you guys. Likely, my boss remembered your stellar performance with our out-of-state transfer a couple of months ago, and when the need for a new contract came up, remembered you and how smoothly you guys ran that.”

I didn’t tell him to thank The Incumbent Ambulance Service, and their crew of Laurel and Hardy.

Fun And Games · Fun With Suits! · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

“Little Mary Sunshine is NOT a Force Multiplier!”

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, I was nursing in an ER in a medium sized city. For some reason, I was unable to evade being placed in charge.

Lord Knows that I tried! While I have established that I can be reasonably effective in a supervisory role, I really do not like it. For one thing, it places me in overly close proximity to Suits. I do not enjoy proximity to suits. Hell, my Suit Aversion Disorder led me to work midnights, in the first place! (well, that and shift differential, as well as seven-on-and-seven-off scheduling, to be honest.)

For another, I get subjected to all the bullshit from other departments, which, invariably, appears to consist of interacting with slothlike souls who manifest only one burning desire: skate through their shifts, while expending as little effort as is needed to maintain their receipt of a paycheck. Notice, I did not attribute to these chuckleheads the desire to actually do something resembling their jobs. That wuld be different.

Finally, when in charge, I get to cope with all the malignant and ill considered decisions regarding staffing the aforementioned cursed suits have enacted.

So at this point I was working in a relatively urbanized area, with a sixteen bed ED, in a town with three total Eds of various sizes. We had been short staffed for an extended time. This, of course, made me oh, so very happy. Or, not. I had been bitching, complaining, protesting and generally making known that not only was this sort of staffing insufficient, but, into the bargain, was considerably short of their own goddamned published staffing parameters, written by the goddamned suits themselves, and for which I would be written up should I let someone go home leading to staffing short of these parameters.

Well, as it developed, one of the Junior Suits (our assistant director) was compelled to show her smiling face up to work some of the short midnight shifts. She was, let us say, “entertaining”, to work with. She would “help out” by triaging. Well, when you triage someone, it is helpful if you (1) obtain and record vitals, (2) ascertain, and document allergies, medications, medical history, as well as (3) history of present illness, typically elicited by asking something along the lines of, “So, Mr./Ms/Xr X, what motivated you to come out in the dark of night to join our happy little party?”. You did notice how much fun I seemed to think it was, to, ya know, DOCUMENT, the aforementioned items, right? Sort of like that was, oh, I dunno, a GOOD THING, or something?

So, it develops that Little Mary Sunshine did not document (or even obtain; it was difficult to sort that one out) vials, allergy/med/history, or present complaint information, at least, not consistently. In addition, it seems that an ED physician with, say, a dozen patients, really, really gets petulant if these items are not there in the chart to be found. Slows him/her down, considerably.

Then, there is the part about both bedding the patient, as well as noting such fact on the greaseboard, as well as reporting off to the the nurse who would, oh, I don’t know, maybe BE CARING FOR THAT PATIENT.

Finally, it was established practice to start the needful IVs, collect the blood, and send it to the lab, along with a requisition for the bloodwork the physician was going to be desiring to see. None of which had penetrated Little Mary Sunshine’s cranial vault.

She was no more helpful as a “floor” nurse, Which is to say, she would half ass do things, not tell anybody at what point she had grown disinterested and wandered of Ghawd alone knew where, let alone document anything that she, by some miracle of random happenstance, completed.

As my partner, Andy, opined, “Ya know, she is not really a very effective force multiplier!”

Much more nicely phrased than the tsunami of profanity that was boiling away, waiting for me to spew forth as my OWN opinion of her “efforts”!

So, visiting as she was from the warm climate of Daytime “Suitworld”, Little Mary Sunshine was chilly most of the time. (she might have been warmer, had she been moving about as briskly as the rest of us, but, then….) Andy, once again demonstrating the situational awareness that made him a fine nurse and great partner, noted this fact, and brought it to my attention one long, long night during a missing Mary moment.

He implemented a plan based upon this observation, and turned the department thermostat down to around 60, from the typically balmy 70 where it normally rested.

Well, time passed, Mary Sunshine wandered around, fucking things up, and soon the HVAC system equibrillated at the new set point. Mary zipped up her sweatshirt, and began to complain that it was cold.

Nice of her to notice.

Shortly thereafter, she loudly opined that “You guys seem to have things under control. I’m gonna go back into my office and do some paperwork. Call me if you need me!”

Once she was safely away down the hall towards her (independently heated) office, we returned the thermostat to the baseline setting.

The rest of the night passed as the typical clusterfuck of shortstaffed jackassery, fortunately not exacerbated by halfwit half assed managerial fumble fingering.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Child Rearing Tales

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….well, OK, really, this is another child rearing tale. Our oldest son, Adam, was approaching middle teen years, and, in The Unnamed Flyover State (TUFS), that meant anticipating driver’s education, preparatory to acquiring a driver’s license. At that time, the child in question had to be around 15 years of age, so, shortly after Adam’s fourteenth birthday, I sat him down for a little chat.

“So, Adam, you starting to get excited about taking driver’s ed?”

“Yep! I really can hardly wait!”

“Outstanding! Now, you do realize that, here in TUFS, you aren’t required to get my signature in order to take driver’s ed, or to get your license, right?”

He responded with a blank look. “Huh? All the kids in my class say that your parents have to sign for you to take driver’s ed, or to drive!”

“Well, they are mistaken. You do not require my signature in order to drive, or in order to take driver’s ed!”

He reflected upon this for a moment, and his face brightened. “Oh, yeah, right! I’ll just get Mom to sign!”

I sat back. “Say, I have an idea! How about you go talk to your mother, and ask her about that idea! Let’s say, for some reason, that I refuse to sign for driver’s ed, or for you to drive, ask her what her next move might be! Come on right back, and let me know what she says, OK?”

He scampered off. From another part of th house, I overheard low pitched murmurs, as of distant conversation. The murmurs ceased, and Adam made his reappearance.

“So, tell me about that ‘no signature’ thing, please, Dad.”

That told me how his conversation with his mother had gone. He had said something along the lines of “Mom, if Dad won’t sign for me to take driver’s ed or to drive, will you?” Her response had likely gone along the lines of “Have you lost your fucking mind? What makes you think your dad and I would not be on the same page regarding something like that?”

So, I answered him. “Well, Adam, in the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, you do not require a parent’s signature in order to take driver’s ed, nor in order to drive!”

“Dad, that can’t be right! All the kids in my grade tell me that you need a signature!”

“Well, they are all wrong. Indeed, here in TUFS, you can get your driver’s license, you can take driver’s ed, without my signature, or you mother’s. Why, once you are eighteen, it is all very simple! You simply sign for yourself!”

He looked thoughtful for a moment. “But, Dad, why would I want to wait until I was eighteen to drive?”

Now, I looked thoughtful, for a second. “Adam, that is an excellent question! I am confident that your behavior between now and then will demonstrate the answer you came up with!”

So, fast forward several years. I had had this same conversation with Betty, Number Two child. She had taken, and passed driver’s ed, and acquired her license. She was driving whenever she could wheedle the loan of a car from her mother or me. She was also, as an adolescent girl, not entirely meeting behavioral standards.

Her mother TDW-Mark 1, and I, considered her transgressions, and intervened when needful. When behavior did not improve, we physically took her license, and secured it. After the “license grounding” had elapsed, she, again, could drive. More misbehavior, more license grounding.

Finally, she had demonstrated sufficient lack of grasp of acceptable behavioral standards, that we were done grounding her from driving. TDW-Mark 1 and I held a conference, featuring Betty. I reviewed past interventions.

“Betty, you did (whatever), and had been told not to. We took your license for a week, and told you that another violation would result in us taking your license for two weeks. You violated (whatever the rule in question was), again, and so we took your license for two weeks, and told you that the next time would be a month. Again, you violated (rule), and we took your license, and told you that the next time, we would simply yank your license and stop screwing around with this stuff. Well, last night you did, again, violate (rule), and so, now, your mother, and I, and you, are going to the motor vehicle office, and you are going to lose your license.”

She responded, “Well, I will just go there tomorrow, and get it back!”

I smiled at the sixteen year old. “I do not think that it works that way, Honey!”

She looked at me, and brought me up to speed (or, so she thought). “All the kids at school tell me that I can, and I just will!”

I produced her license from my pocket. “See this name here, at the bottom? Where it says Director of Department of Motor Vehicles? Read that name, please, Honey. The print is a little small for my old eyes!”

She read, “’Alyssa, M. Snodgrass’ Why do I care about that?”

“So, sweetie, which one of your classes is she in with you?”

“Huh? Nobody in any of my classes has a name like that!”

I looked at TDW Mark 1, and she looked at me. We then turned our gaze to our darling daughter. The TDW Mark 1 carried the ball. “Well, Betty, that is indeed a surprise! Since Ms. Snodgrass is the director of the department of motor vehicles, and is charged with writing, and enforcing, the rules for who gets, and who loses, a license to drive, perhaps she knows just a teensy, weensy, little bit more about how all that stuff works, than your illiterate, self absorbed, ignorant, prideful, and arrogant classmates. Doncha think?”

Betty gaped at her. Her mother smiled, serenely. “So, honey? Get your shoes, and let’s go. Now, Honey, now!”

With that, our little gaggle promenaded into the DMV office. Once our number had been called, we strolled up to the desk, and the civil servant asked, “What can I do for you?”

I smiled, my best won the jackpot smile, and proclaimed, “We are here to have this child,” and my sweeping wave indicated the glowering Betty beside me, “officially credentialed by the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, as a pedestrian!”

The poor woman, only trying to get through her workday, looked at me blankly. After a second, she asked, “What?”

TDW Mark 1 clarified it for her. “We are here to yank this child’s license.”

“Oh, right. Please may I have the child’s license?”

I produce it. “And, your ID, please?”

We produced it.

Tap, tap, tap went the keyboard. Our new friend, the DMV Lady, then snipped off one of the corners of Betty’s license, and, looking up, asked, “Do you want this back?”

I looked at TDW Mark 1, and Betty. TDW Mark 1 looked back at me, and smiled at the DMV Lady. “Oh, yes, indeed, we want it back!” she exclaimed. “We’re gonna frame that bad boy, and hang it in the hallway, where all of us can admire it every day!”