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Dear Mahatma: I am eat up with teenagers. They are all eager to drive, but don't know much about the written and driving tests. Can you enlighten? -- Generation Geezer

Dear Gen: When seeking enlightenment, we turn to Bill Sadler, the longtime public face and voice of the Arkansas State Police.

He tells us that someone who fails the written test can take it as often as necessary to get a learner's permit. But rules require a five-day waiting period. The theory behind the five days, Sadler said, is that examinees can use that time to study, study, study the driver's manual with particular care to those topics that stumped the poor kid.

(Note to Mr. Sadler: Human nature being what it is, and the brains of teens being not quite fully formed, sometimes they study. And sometimes they don't. Oh, what a piece of work is a 16-year-old.)

The skills test is a slightly different kettle of beans, if we may mangle a metaphor.

Fail the skills test, and wait 14 days. The waiting period can be extended to 30 days if the skills test applicant commits a hazardous error. Think ignoring a stop sign or other traffic control device. Crossing over into an opposing lane of traffic, or any other maneuver that could place the driver, the examiner or other motorists in danger will end with a "do not pass," 30 days and, Sadler said, everyone walking away to count their blessings to live another day.

Dear Mahatma: Who is responsible for the large over-kill in speed bumps in the Leawood and Forest Heights areas? Speed can be controlled with far less damage to a vehicle's undercarriage. -- Concerned

Dear Concerned: Your neighbors are responsible.

Speeding in residential areas compels residents to petition city government for speed bumps. If warranted, they are installed according to the specifications of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Dear Mahatma: Loved your Hamlet quote ... what a piece of work we humans are when we won't even wear a piece of cloth over our mouths that just might save the lives of our fellow humans. Sad times we live in. -- Sharon from Thornton

Dear Sharon: The quote referenced the tendency of drivers to pull over for funerals, but not for emergency vehicles. The former is a courtesy; the latter a legal requirement.

Oh, what a piece of work are people. Pretty much everything we need to know about human nature is in Shakespeare. Also Homer. Also the Bible. Also the comics. See Dilbert. Especially when the story line goes back to those wacky Elbonians.

Regarding sad times, all times are sad. All times are uncertain. ("In these uncertain times," the TV Hairdo pontificated. )

And all times offer up human achievement. How about those vaccines, developed, tested, approved and distributed inside a calendar year?

Oh, what a piece of work is human science.

Please forgive us for being a cockeyed optimist. We're incorrigible.


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