Saturday, October 1, 2011
Blurs Going By
I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles yesterday, renewing my license. There was a man in line in front of me, being given a vision test. He pressed his forehead against the machine and the clerk asked him to read a certain line. He hesitantly, and very slowly, recited a few letters. He missed every one.
I wondered, and the clerk must have wondered, too, whether he was illiterate. She moved him to a different machine and asked him to read a line of numbers. He slowly recited a few of them. Again, he missed nearly every number. The clerk lowered her voice and asked him to try another row. He read off a few numbers and she made him stop. She asked him whether he wore glasses or contacts. He said no. She told him to move his head a little a try again. He did. He got them wrong.
The clerk seemed to be at a loss. She told him that he needed to get at least two numbers right and that he hadn't yet. She let him try again and my jaw dropped. He seemed to be moments away from having a license issued despite the fact that he didn't seem able to see at any distance. He missed all the numbers again and she told him that he was going to have to have an eye exam. He could either go to the eye doctor, or go into the next room, but that if he failed the vision test in there, they'd take his license away.
And then -- she let him try one more time! I thought I was going to lose it. All I could picture was this blind man driving along the roads, never seeing other cars, or motorcycles, or people in front of him. He'd failed! Repeatedly! And she was giving him one more shot. He looked into the machine and rattled off a few numbers. He missed them all again. She turned off the machine and told him he'd have to get an eye exam and come back. He nodded and left. She called the next person in line and I watched the man walk out the door. I think you know what I'm about to tell you next: he got into his car and drove off.