Art Buchwald, 1983
I have a confession to make, and the sooner it gets out in the open, the better I'll feel about it. I don't drive a car.
Americans are broad-minded people. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there is something wrong with him.
Through the years I've found it very embarassing to admit it to anyone, and my best friends tend to view me with suspicion and contempt.
But where I really run into trouble is when I go to a store and try o make a purchase with a check.
It happened again last week when I went to a discount houseat a large shopping center in Maryland. I wanted to buy a portable typewriter, and the salesman was very helpful about showing me the different models.
I decided on one, and then I said, "May I write out a personal check?"
"Naturally," he said kindly. "Do you have any identification?"
"Of course," I said. I produced an American Express credit card, a Diner's Club credit card, a Carte blanche credit card, a Bell Telephone credit card, and my pass to the White house.
The man inspected them all and then said, "Where's your driver's license?"
"I don't have one," I replied.
"Did you lose it?"
"No, I didn't lose it. I don't drive a car."
He pushed a buttonunder the cash register, and suddenly a floor manager came rushing over.
The salesman had now become surly. "This guy's trying to cash a check, and he doesn't have a driver's license. Should I call the store detective?"
"Wait a minute. I'll talk to him," the manager said. "did you lose your driver's license for some traffic offense?"
"No, I've never driven. I don't like to drive."
"Nobody likes to drive," the floor manager shouted. "That's no excuse. Why are you trying to cash a check if you don't have a driver's license?"
"I though all the other identification was good enough. I had to be cleared by the Secret Service to get this white House pass," I said hopefully.
The floor managerlooked scornfully at the pass and all my credit cards. "Anyone can get cleared by the Secret Service. Hey, wait a minute. How did you get out here to the shopping center if you don't drive?"
"I took a taxi," I said.
"Well, that takes the cake," he said.
By this time a crowd had gathered.
"Guy doesn't have a driver's license."
"Says he doesn't even drive. Never has driven."
"Tar and feather him."
"How un-american can you get?"
The crowd was getting ugly, so I decided to forget the typewriter.
"Never mind," I said. "I'll go somewhere else."
By this time the president of the store had arrived on the scene. Fortunately, he recognised my name and okayed the check. He was very embarrassed by the treatment I had received and said, "come on, I'll buy you a drink."
"I forgot to tell you," I said. "I don't drink either."
This was too much, even for him, and he pushed me toward the door.
"Get out of here," he said, "and don't come back!"
Art Buchwald, 1983
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