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The Dutch Tractor License

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“Apparently I’m qualified to drive a tractor now,” my wife said with a bemused grin as she returned from the service desk where she’d just been arranging the renewal of her driver’s license. I was sitting in the play corner with our three year old son.

Invading Holland

“Apparently I’m qualified to drive a tractor now,” my wife said with a bemused grin as she returned from the service desk where she’d just been arranging the renewal of her driver’s license.

I was sitting in the play corner with our three year old son. Both of us had been drawn to the Lego.

“A tractor? Why?” I asked, confused.

“I have no idea,” she laughed, equally confused.

We’d only gone to the town hall to renew her driver’s license because it was approaching the end of its ten year life span. We didn’t need a tractor or a license to drive one. We had a car. My wife had never taken tractor driving lessons and neither of us could remember the last time we’d even set foot on a farm. Why was she now allowed to drive a tractor?! We had no idea but it didn’t stop us dreaming up wild theories about it as we left the building.

“Maybe I earned it for so many years of safe driving,” my wife speculated with a smile. I think she was only half joking.

“It could be a Friesian thing,” I smirked. “I have seen a lot of people driving tractors since we moved up here. Maybe living in Friesland means you automatically gain the right to drive one.”

Tractors do seem to be the main mode of transport in Friesland. If you spend any amount of time driving around the province most of that time will be spent behind a tractor.

“Or maybe the lady behind the counter simply thought I look like I have what it takes to drive a tractor,” my wife said while straightening her posture with mock pride.

There was no way to know for sure. My wife made a mental note to ask about it when the licence was ready in a few days. We returned to our standard urban family car and started to drive home.

“We could trade the family car in for a tractor now that you are qualified to drive one,” I suggested during the drive. “Attaching the children’s seats to it might be difficult though.”

“That is true but think about how cool we’d look driving around the village. I think I would look good on a tractor.”

It was a dangerous conversation to have with our son sitting in the back. I suspected that he would love to be driven to daycare in a tractor. Luckily he said nothing. We returned home to our non-farm based lives and forgot about the tractor mystery until a few days later.

A few days later my wife received a phone call informing her that the new license was ready. We jumped in the car once more and drove to the town hall. Ironically, we spent half the drive stuck behind a tractor when it pulled out in front of us from a near by farm (and proceeded to halve the speed limit).

“Oh! Maybe I should ask this guy if I can borrow his tractor. You know, just to try it out,” my wife exclaimed enthusiastically. Again, I think she was only half joking.

I could tell she was getting quite into the idea of driving a tractor. Maybe I would have to arrange some kind of farm day experience for her next birthday. We’d agreed that we would not trade in the family car. However, if the need to drive a tractor ever arose (a farming emergency for example) it would be my wife who took the wheel.

When we returned to pick up the new license my wife asked the lady behind the counter the reason for the addition of the tractor. Had she earned it in some way? Was it something she did? Was it a mistake? It turned out the truth was far less interesting. She informed us that there had been a change in the rules. Anyone who had passed their driving test before 2015 now had the right to drive a tractor (regardless of if they had an interest in farming or not).

It was not as interesting as any of the reasons we’d come up with. However, my wife still maintains that she would look good driving a tractor. She would still like to give it a go one day.

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