The great renewal romance and the ticket to true love

I’m coming up 75 and they tell me it needs to be renewed. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
I’m coming up 75 and they tell me it needs to be renewed. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
"Good morning. Welcome to the New Zealand Transport Agency. You’re speaking with Darlene."

"Oh, good morning. I was expecting ‘Kia or’a and ‘Waka Kotahi’.

"Oh, no. We don’t do that any more. New government, you see. Seems a waste, really, after all those Maori language lessons we were paid to take. Pity to see it go. I used to enjoy the rows I had with people who wanted to know why I couldn’t bloody well speak English. Very heated, they got."

"Anyway, it’s good to get through. I’ve been calling for two weeks and getting no reply."

"I must apologise for that but there’s just the two of us now and we get about 3000 calls a day. It wasn’t so bad when we had 28 of us at the switchboard but, well, you know how it is with these cutbacks. It’s been worse this morning because Flo is off with her leg, so I’m holding the fort all by myself. Hate it, but I need the money. Now, how can I help? Who’s calling by the way? I can open your file."

"Ah, Jerome Grimsby here. I’m calling about renewing my driver’s licence. I’m coming up 75 and they tell me it needs to be renewed,"

"You know most of this can be done on your computer?"

"I’m almost 75, for goodness sake! What would I want with a computer?"

"Well, my old dad’s never off the thing. Always watching old black and white movies, so that’ll tell you how old he is. About a hundred, we reckon. Still, we can’t force you to use a computer. Not yet, anyway. But I’m told this trendy new government has plans to make computers compulsory and so get rid of about 4000 more civil servants. But don’t tell them I told you that."

"What’s the next step, Darlene?"

Well, Jerome ... I hope you don’t mind me calling you Jerome? Or can I all you Jerry?"

"Jerry’s just fine."

"As you’re computer illiterate we’ll post out a pack with documents in it. You fill out the driver licence application form and you’ll need a medical certificate issued no more than 60 days before you go to your driver licensing agent. How’s your health, Jerry?"

"Pretty good, thanks, Darlene. Just have to watch the old blood pressure. You know the sort of thing."

"Not really, but if the doctor is doubtful about you his certificate will recommend that you sit an On-Road Safety Test. Only takes half an hour. We’ll send you a guide to the test. Useful stuff. Drive on the left. How to act sober at a checkpoint. That sort of thing. Oh, and take along your present licence or some other form of identification."

"I’ve got statement from my stockbroker. Been a great year. Would that do?"

"Certainly, Jerry. And you’ll need to pay for the new licence before you leave. Let me guess. You always pay by cash. Right?"

"Spot on, Darlene. No chance of being scammed that way."

"Very wise, Jerry. Poor old Flo got taken for a couple of thousand last year. She’s so sensible, normally, but got sucked in by some character who wanted to send her a million dollars. All he wanted was her bank account details. Terrible, isn’t it?"

"How much is the licence?"

"It’s $21.50. Is that a problem?"

"No worries. I don’t rely on the pension, thank goodness. Got four rental properties which keep me in some sort of luxury."

"Really? That’s good. You’ll need to know where your nearest licensing agent is. Where are you?"


"Never heard of it. Oh, yes, here it is on my computer map. Your nearest agent is in Dunedin. So just pop in, and good luck."

"Pop in? It’s a two-hour drive. Even in the new Mercedes it’s a bit tedious."

"Perhaps your wife could share the driving?"

"Afraid not. I lost Violet just a year ago and I do miss having a good woman. Surely, there an agency somewhere closer?"

"No. The idea is that if you manage to drive to the agent without crashing then you don’t have to sit the On-Road Safety Test."

"Thanks for your friendly help, Darlene."

"My pleasure. I’ve just found your licence picture on the computer. You look a lot younger than 75, I must say. That your own hair?’

"Yes, I’m quite proud of it. A bit greyer than when the photo was taken but still all my own work. And everything else is in working order."

"That sounds great, Jerry. And I’ve always been a Mercedes fan. Maybe we could meet up sometime?"

"I’d really like that, Darlene, or can I call you Darl? A pity you’re away up north."

"Well, I’ve got leave coming up when Flo gets back and I’d love to visit Dunedin. Old castles and things. When are you going down for your licence?"

"I thought next Friday, Darl."

"Wonderful. See you then, Jerry dear."

 Jim Sullivan is a Patearoa writer.