The Retiree by Jerry Hoem

Grandson—he’s a sophomore— grew up in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, and is here for high school, living in a dorm at St. Croix Lutheran in West St. Paul. Daughter—his Mom—wondered if he’d be able to get his learner’s permit before spring break. Wife wanted to get him to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV or DVS or whatever they call it today.

Since we are only 60 miles away, and we had a whole week before he would go back to the island on his spring break, we offered to help.

Research proved difficult. Wife’s attempts found that the testing offices were few, and usually closed. Not only that, but the phone calls she made were answered by machines, and messages left on them were not returned. Ever.

I took a stab at it on the computer. Finally I found two places that could give the written test; Roseville and downtown St. Paul. The downtown location was familiar. We went there for Granddaughter’s license a few years ago. It was open until 3:45.

Grandson got out of class at 3, and Google said it was eleven minutes to the DVS office. Of course, no one would talk on the phone. Just a machine. Grandson agreed to be at our car at 3. We made it in maybe 15 minutes. Wife went in with Grandson while I parked in a ramp nearby, which only had a space because most people wouldn’t pay that much to park.

He was ready for the test, and did well. Then he found he needed a parent’s signature because of his age. He explained that his parents were 3000 miles away, and got me to help with negotiations. I have Power of Attorney for such things in the USA in order to avoid having someone go 6000 miles every time a document needs signing. I needed my POA paperwork, though. We fed Grandson and dropped him off until the next day, when we would repeat the 132 mile round trip without the meal.

Few people at DMV have ever seen a POA document, but they agreed to use it, and he got the permit, agreeing that nobody knew how official it really was.

Then we decided to attend Grandson’s wrestling banquet the next day. It was only slightly farther than his dorm. But, after all, he was new at American sports, and his sister would be there from school in New Ulm. So we went, for the third day in a row, this time for a 124-mile round trip. On our return, we found ourselves in the middle of the International I-94 Tailgater’s Rally, a high-speed event taking place in the Midway section of the Twin Cities. Rush hour on the way over, and road rage on the way back. An experience unlike any other.

We made it, though, with a few extras added in, like a trip to Walmart, laundry for Grandson, and accumulated mail for all the Lucians.

Retirees don’t really have time to work.