Let me take you back to Hawaii. Beautiful ocean breezes, enchanting sunsets and no one that would rent a scooter over 50cc’s to someone without a motorcycle license. Having already having purchased my plane ticket to the mainland, I only had a short window for me to be able to get my permit and complete the motorcycle test on the Big Island. There is that silly important thing of having an “official” address and proof of residency in the state you are getting licensed in, so after leaving Hawaii, I would be SOL. Staring down the barrel of time, I shrugged my shoulders and hoped the unknown pieces of my puzzle would magically fall into place.
At the start of this Scooter Saga, I couldn’t find concrete evidence online that I wouldn’t be able to take the road test on my cute 49cc Little Boot Scoot, and I figured that the wonderful folks at the DMV would be happy to assist me in my quest for information when I went in for my permit test. Sadly, there was no “this is what you need to get a motorcycle license for a motor scooter over 50cc’s” pamphlet that they could give me. So with 800 documents proving I was a current Hawaii resident and three different proofs of identity in hand, I was off to the DMV to get me a motorcycle permit!
I could go into epic detail about the high-paced, super fun time I had in my five and a half hour DMV saga, but I will spare you. I will however, give you the highlights:
- Was told that the only people that had more information about what I needed to take the road test were inside, and I would have to wait for my number to be called to talk with them.
- Ran into at least two people I know and talked story until their numbers were called
- Ate poke
- Tried not to die of boredom
- Got asked on two dates, said no to both
- Passed my permit test
- Got my temporary permit complete with super rad photo
- Got ¾ of the information that I needed to show up for the motorcycle road test, that I may or may not have been scheduled on, for the Tuesday after next
- Walked back to my friends car and realized I had no idea if I could use my scooter to take the test
- Banged my head against said car for not getting more actual information
- In no way was I going to wait another 2 ½ hrs to get back in there
- Went to favorite bar and administered tequila
I was so busy being excited that I was actually doing “it”, the whole “actually making this crazy scooter thing happen”, that I completely forgot to iron out details. Ya know, like what I actually needed to know that I couldn’t find on the Internet and could only find out from those ladies. Still not sure why this whole process was such a complicated ordeal, but it’s me, so I just hoped for the best and planned to deal with the unknown as it showed up.
Here’s what I did know:
- Road tests were only given every other Tuesday (the SAME damn Tuesday on both sides of the Island)
- If I didn’t pass the road test on that particular day, I wouldn’t have another Tuesday to reschedule before I left
- I needed a 50cc scooter, or above with current registration as a motor scooter (not a permanent registration you can get for a scooter 49cc’s and under) and current insurance with your name on it to take the test
- My scooter was 49cc’s, had a permanent registration, and I didn’t know anyone who had a scooter who fit the bill
- I would need to complete 18 ritualistic scooter summoning dances, administer more tequila in honor of the scooter gods, and stalker call all of the rental agencies and DMV’s on the Big Island until I found a scooter.
Now back to that beautiful day in Hawaii realizing that no one in Kona would rent a scooter over 50cc’s to me. Trying not to cry, I started widening my search north on the island, hoping that I might have better luck and hoping that a friend would drive me up there if I did find one.
Low and behold, on my second phone call I found my Scooter Savior. I had hardly begun to share a spec of my story before a wonderful man working at a scooter rental agency about 45 minutes north of where I needed to take the test was assuring me that we would figure something out. He would talk to the other owner of the company and see what he could do, then give me a call back. Needless to say, I rejoiced thinking that I might have the most important piece of my road test figured out. (For those that are wondering how I am supposed to take a road test on something I have never ridden before with more cc’s that I have ever dealt with… Yeah, blind faith is a full-time occupation)
A day went by and I did not hear back from my Scooter Savior. Not wanting to scare him away, I waited until my following lunch break to give him a call back. Standing out by the ocean, I got Scooter Savior back on the phone and he told me that, while they too could not rent a scooter to me, he would personally drive his own scooter down to my test location and let me use it. Here was this person willing to wake up before 7am on his day off to drive down in packed commuter traffic to help out a random stranger he had never met. ‘Grateful’, is an understatement.
A friend of mine had posted something on the Internet about ‘Mercury Retrograde’ the Friday morning before my test that said something about ‘have your details figured out, or things will start to fall apart’. Being a bit of a superstitious person, I decided I might as well do everything I could to make sure I had my ducks in a row. Having already lined up my scooter for the big day, I turned my efforts to the test. Looking over all of my documents I was given from the DMV, I realized that the piece of paper with the date and time for the test, also said I needed to call a number to make an appointment. Shit. I could have sworn that the lady I talked to at the DMV said I was scheduled, but this was no time for blind faith as I only had one Tuesday to make this work.
Joking that the DMV never picks up their phone is all fun and games until you have literally dialed them on repeat for two straight hours with no answer. This was only slightly panic inducing as I thought maybe they don’t answer their phones in the morning, it is “Island Time” after all. After another two-hour session that afternoon, I started to panic. Again I turned to the Internet in hopes I might find another way of contacting the people who would schedule this event. I found another number for the DMV and boy oh boy my fingers have never dialed a number faster. Aaaand, because that’s just how this Friday was going, they had just closed minutes before.
Great, now I have this Mercury Retrograde best of burden riding shotgun on my shoulder until Monday cooing sweet nothings of disaster in my ear.
Mercury Retrograde Beast Of Burden: “Hey, hey you! Sarah! Remember that thing you read from your friend?”
Me: “Obviously. It has now employed you as my permanent schizophrenic reality.”
Mercury Retrograde Beast Of Burden: “Aw, you’re sweet, but I should probably tell you, she left something out.”
Me: “… You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Mercury Retrograde Beast Of Burden: “But it’s the best part!!”
Me: “What could be better than everything falling apart so that I can’t take the test to can get my Motorcycle License?”
Mercury Retrograde Beast Of Burden: “You get to tell everyone that this big ol’ journey of yours is a failure, that you gave up, and that you couldn’t do it. And, I bet my buddy Murderer And Destroyer of Hopes And Dreams tickets for the Nickleback show in Hell in exchange for your crushed reality, and I’m really looking forward to that show.”
Me: “Ok, that’s it, absolutely not are you going to be in possession of my crushed reality. Not only do you have terrible taste in music, but you smell and I’ve had it with your terrible sass.”
First thing Monday morning my fingers were bent, stretched and ready to dial the crap out of that phone until I got some answers. Now that I had this new number, I had full faith I was going to get what I needed.
Three rings, and ‘Hello?’ I swear I almost burst into tears right there.
Me: “Hi!! Oh my gosh, I swear I called the other number for the Kona DMV for four straight hours on Friday and you are the first person who has actually picked up!”
Lady: (Obviously thinking I’m crazy) “Um… Ok, is there something I can help you with?”
Me: I am just trying to figure out if I am scheduled for the motorcycle road test on Tuesday, tomorrow Tuesday.”
Lady: “Well that’s not really my job and I don’t really know how to look for that information”
Me (trying to keep murder out of my voice): “… I totally understand that this may not be your job, but could you maybe even find out if there is someone I could contact who would have that information? Or give me any idea how I might be able to find this information out? I would be forever in your debt and I honestly have no idea who else to contact.”
Lady: “Well… I guess. Hold please.”
Me: *Heavy breathing into the phone while she presumably talks to the people who have put all of their phones off the hook as to avoid me at all costs.*
Lady: “Um… Maybe you could email them? That’s usually the easiest way to get a hold of that department”
Me (suspended somewhere between rage and freefall despair): “I would love that email if it would be in your power to give it to me.”
After getting two email addresses from the very enthusiastic DMV employee who’s job it was to do I don’t know what, I promptly wrote an email to these elusive motorcycle specific, holy grail holding, CIA level information guarding people asking if they could, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, just tell me if I was scheduled for the next day.
Me writing the subject line for these emails:
- Motorcycle Road Test. (No… that’s too bland, they could ignore this for days)
- Motorcycle Road Test for Tomorrow (Meh, this doesn’t really get my sense of urgency across)
- PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Ok, maybe too much)
- Please Help, Need To Take The Drivers Test Tomorrow (Hmm, hopefully that’ll do it)
Three hours later I get a response from a Tina saying; “There are no available openings for the motorcycle road test tomorrow at the Kona office.”
Taking a deep breath, I try one more time; “Hi Tina, are you able to see if I am already scheduled to take the test? Thank you so much for your time, I greatly appreciate it.”
At 2:46pm on Monday May 9th, I got my confirmation, “You are scheduled for tomorrow’s motorcycle road test.”
Tears of joy streaming from my eyeballs, I called my Scooter Savior one more time to make sure that he, in fact was going to be there in the morning. He quickly assured me that he would be there bright eyed and bushy tailed, giving me some time to practice on the 250cc scooter before the test. With a million thanks, I hung up the phone. Wait… 250 ccs? What is that? A freaking scooter cheetah? I had already been practicing on Little Boot Scoot, but I had never gone over 40 and that was down hill with gale force winds propelling me. Well… I’m in it now and I’m not about to have Mercury Retrograde Beast Of Burden win his stupid Nickleback tickets.
An hour early to the road test site I meet Adventure Rider Guy. He’s tooling around the course loaded up with his panniers and full gear ready to go. I’m tooling around on Little Boot Scoot pretending to myself that this 250cc beast I’m expecting to show up is going to be exactly the same. Eventually he pulls over and we get to chatting as I wait for my Scooter Savior. At this point I am starting to get used to the; ‘excuse me, you’re doing what?’ followed by my nonchalant response of; ‘oh trust me, it’s a good idea’. I tell him that some wonderful stranger has agreed to show up with his own personal steed for me to take the test and he gives me a sideways glance, because really, who does that kind of thing?
Well, up comes my Scooter Savior atop the white Honda Blur 250cc scooter cheetah, just as promised, and I finally get to meet the man who found it in his heart to go out beyond his way for a stranger. As I do with any vehicle I have the opportunity to man, I ask him if there is anything in particular that I should know before I go on my way.
“So this is what I tell all of my rental clients. If you’re a republican, just use the right (front) brake. If you’re a democrat, use just the left (rear) break. If you’re a liberal, use them both liberally and have a good time!”
A few giggles later, I’m barely touching my toes to the ground as my legs are straddled over the seat. “Oh shit,” I eloquently think to myself, “How the fuck am I supposed to do this?” And with that, start toeing back the scooter so that I can take my chances with the throttle on the course before the instructor arrives. So this thing is a good couple hundred pounds heavier than my oh so cute, oh so very much smaller scoot, and my ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ attitude has vacated the premises. Needless to say being in Hawaii, my palms are definitely sweating. My Scooter Savior is tossing out a few tips to help me wrangle this new beast. I, meanwhile, am trying to pull some giant steel balls out of thin air to make my hands stop shaking and my lungs start to work.
But, after slowly rolling back the throttle, she goes. I start with some wide turns, and she goes some more. I work into some smaller S-curves, and she goes yet again. Holy crap, apparently I had been learning some basic skills on that little scoot of mine. I had hoped as much, but hey, the proof is in the pudding. I then tossed my mentally fabricated steel balls from the side of this giant scooter cheetah, as heck, apparently I don’t need them at all, I have some gusto all my own. Working around the rest of the course, I am stoked at how well I am able to wrangle this new entanglement of plastic and metal. The brakes work about 1,000 times better than my original steed, and I make a mental note to buy something that has disc brakes on the mainland.
And then it’s time. Everyone lines their motorcycles and scooters up to be inspected, along with their documents, by the DMV Certified Drivers License Test Administrator (I’m pretty sure that doesn’t fit on a business card). Adventure Rider Guy goes first, then a woman on a Harley, then me. At this point a few others had heard my story and were standing close by as the DMV lady started checking things over. Looking at my papers, check and check. Looking at the insurance and registration documents and she pauses, looks at me and says, “this won’t work, these are photo copies”. I stare blankly at her in disbelief as my Scooter Savior comes up and tells her how these are the documents that he sends off with his rentals every day. How could they not work? How? Now everyone is huddled around, very concerned that crazy scooter girl might not get to take the test. Adventure Rider Guy comes up and starts telling the DMV lady how I am about to embark on this radical journey on a scooter across the US, and that I wouldn’t be able to take the test again in two weeks because I would already be gone. Others started chiming in about how she had to let me take it. Not a stranger to let down, I figured I would find another way to take the test… somehow, somewhere…
I told her that it was ok, I totally understood protocol, and thanked her for her time. My heart sinking deeper into my chest, and trying not to cry, I told the guys that it would be ok, that I would figure something out. Silence followed, and expectant eyes bored into her by the entire group. She looked around, shuffled some papers, and told me that she would add me on to the following Tuesday’s test. What?! Some magical Tuesday that is not available to anyone else according to the DMV? Ahah! Take THAT super secretive DMV people!!!
With this news of having another chance to take the test, my Scooter Savior quickly assures me that, yet again, he would wake up ridiculously early on his day off and come down for me to knock this test out of the park. Hugs and a million gratitudes exchanged, I sent him off to enjoy the rest of his day.
As the DMV lady moved on to inspecting other’s documents, Adventure Rider Guy walks over to me and says, “Ya know, you have to let people into your story, to give them a chance to be a part of it.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I nodded my head and offered my thanks for reminding me of that. While I may be a big ol’ badass in some regards, I would be nowhere if it weren’t for the people I have met in my life.
That sentence has been with me much of this journey and keeps pulling me back to my core desire. I don’t by any means think of myself as the kind to keep to myself, however there is a chunk of myself that I keep closed off, and often I ignore it. There is an aspect of not wanting to be a burden, or even further, that I don’t deserve help. I can reason myself seven ways from Sunday why that shouldn’t be a real thing, but hey, I’m working on it. Those words act as a helpful reminder that by offering up my story, and letting people into my life, I am not forcing anything; I am merely facilitating a spark that more life can be created from. I am a true believer that without other people, this world would be terribly boring, and as long as I keep opening myself up, my life will be endlessly interesting.