Thursday, January 10, 2019

"In Their Shoes"

It’s Saturday morning.  I am driving to my pilates (exercise) training.  I park the car, its rear end, nosing marginally into the “Red.”  Hardly ideal, but I’ll take my chances.

Heading towards the pilates studio, I reflexively reach into my pocket, preparing to extract my wallet and keys so I will not painfully roll over on them while I’m doing pilates.  That‘s when I notice…

I have left my wallet at home.

Which, of course, includes my Driver’s License. 

Which they like you to have with you when you’re driving.

In fact they insist on it.

An hour later, my pilates training completed, I step out of the studio and head back to my car.

There is no ticket for illegally parking – marginally, although “marginally” counts too – in the “Red.”

“Whew!” I react. 

But it’s a small “Whew!” 

Because there is a bigger “Whew!” just ahead.

I have to drive home without a license.

Not good.

I am not the smoothest driver at the idealist of times.  I mess up on my way home?  I get pulled over by the police?  “License and Registration”?

I am one essential document short.

Well, it just can’t be helped.

I have to drive home.

Though I dearly wish it was in the company of my license.

Now normally, heading for home, I make a U-turn from my (“quasi-illegal”) parking space, retracing my arriving route there. 

But it’s a commercial area. 

U-turns are not permitted in a commercial area.

I make an illegal U-turn?  I get spotted by the police?  “License and Registration”?

Not good.

Unwilling to “court danger”, I drive home the long way.  Though it means driving longer with no license.

I drive super-carefully, a euphemism in this case for terrible driving.  I drive too slowly.  I brake too frequently.  I stop for pedestrians who are not even thinking of crossing in front of me.

The nervouser I was, I worse I drove.

I am, through tightening apprehension, a “Hazardous Driver.”  Like I am “Driving Under The Influence.”  Though the only “influence” I am under is the guilt-riddling influence of “No License.” 

I “drive scared” all the way home.  But I finally get there.  Remembering to signal before turning into my driveway – possibly too soon… by maybe a mile – but you can’t be too careful, when you are driving without a license.

Drenched in sweat in the garage, I turn off the ignition, the imminent crisis thankfully over.

I am reminded of feeling that way once before.  I was early on in my “American Adventure”, writing under an uncertain series of Temporary Work Permits. 

I’d been “pub-crawling” with one of the co-creators of Cheers, driving home under the innocuous influence of a beer-and-a-half.   But that wasn’t the problem. 

The problem was an urgent call from my signaling bladder.  And I mean urgent.  I am two blocks from home and my agonized body’s, like, “Time’s up!

You know the deal.

When you gotta go you gotta go.

I immediately park the car, disappearing into a convenient dark alley, where I successfully complete my urological business, knowing, if I am “caught in the act” by “The Authorities”,

There goes my possible “Pathway To Citizenship.”

And that’s it.

Two “You’re in trouble with the law, ‘Boy’s’” in forty-some years.

And both times, under “precarious circumstances”, I felt helplessly vulnerable.

Which got me, belatedly – “belatedly” meaning recently – thinking,

That’s how undocumented workers here feel every day of their lives.

And I’m wondering, how do they handle it?

When I could barely make my way home?

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