Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alysa vs. the DMV

We moved to NC last August 1st and new residents have 60 days to get a new driver's license. Since I knew I was changing my name the end of October I thought it made sense to wait a bit longer. (Plus I procrastinate, a habit I will kick one of these days.)  So I got back in November from the honeymoon and now it's the end of May. But it's not like I didn't try. I went to the DMV which was PACKED and waited in line to be told they were booked solid and I was advised to take an appt. time 3 weeks out.  Ok. So I come back 3 weeks later FOUR minutes late and stand at the desk waiting for any worker to notice me. They noticed me, but did not acknowledge me. Finally someone comes over and I explain I had an appt. She looked at the clock and said 'that was half an hour ago'. I explained that is was half an hour ago because nobody came over to help me for half an hour. The lady then had the gall to say I was lying! I was in so much shock that my only defense was a sweeping gesture of the room and a high pitched 'ask anybody here!!'.  Nobody came to my rescue, and they reluctantly saw me another half an hour later only to tell me I was missing some documentation. That entailed a visit to another administrative building and you can see why at this point I put off the DMV for a while. 

When I got the energy again I discovered that you needed car insurance here before your license and registration, so I got NC insurance. I can't however cancel my MA insurance until I send the plates in, which I can't do until the license is physically mailed 20 days after your temporary license, and then after you go get the registration and all. I asked the lady if this makes any sense to her, and she said no because it's not true. I don't need NC insurance, just any insurance. So I'm double paying two months for no reason, lovely.  But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

So today I ventured out absolutely determined to make this happen. I gathered up documents, copies of documents, my cat's immunization records, everything they could possibly ask me for. I drove there and collected my things in the parking lot. But oh, lady luck was playing a nasty trick on me. I had gone to the dog park earlier with my tiny over the shoulder bag and I had thrown my license in there (a habit instilled by concerned mothers everywhere who believe when bodies get destroyed beyond recognition a license will be found intact on top of the remains). Sorry I just wrote that. Anyway, I wasn't deterred. I drove back home trying not to stress out. I drove back to the DMV and was told that was the wrong branch. Determined not to curse, I got back in the car and drove to the new branch. (The original building with the nasty people.)

I walked in and there was a magically short line, and I had all the right documents. I also didn't have the person assume I was here for an initial driving test. (Seriously people. I'm flattered I look youngish, but 16?? That's ridiculous.) I passed the written test, but that was no joke. I haven't looked at driving rules for 15 years. I did not want to have to come back to that building again to re-take a stupid driving test. I only got 1 out of 4 road signs correct when they just gave you the outline of the shape. I am not sure if I'm really that unobservant or that is an undeveloped part of my brain. In either case, the latent straight A student in me was mortified. In my defense it was not multiple choice. I also learned from the test that they don't mess around with DWIs here, which is a good thing. An automatic 13 month license suspension.  I had an impression that traffic laws were on the lax side - perhaps because of unexposure- I've never gotten a ticket for anything, or because I'm from the northeast where it's full of aggressive entitled maniac drivers that somehow remain on the road. 

My temper only flared once during the day, when I drank some water and was told 'sorry honey no food or drink allowed'.  She explained how they used to have spaghetti stains on the floor. I could have said that water would only clean this place up. I could have pulled the pregnancy card, which is based in truth - I need to have water with me absolutely everywhere I go now.  But I smiled pleasantly and tried to keep the peace.  I just don't understand how they usually make people wait for hours - yell at you for leaving the building while waiting (saw it happen) - but don't allow even water. 

A side note. When they took my picture the lady said look here and smile on the count of three. She stopped at one, and told me my hair looked funny. I ran my fingers through it and said ok, because I don't really care so much about that. I don't own a brush and never blow dry my hair.  She insisted I look in a mirror so I assumed I had make-up somewhere weird (oh wait, I haven't worn make-up since I was pregnant), or I had snot running down my nose. As far as I could tell I looked totally normal. I pretended to flatten my hair again and sat down. She shook her head and said she wanted me to have a cute picture and I needed to fix my hair. She came over and pointed out the little piece of hair out of place. I suppose I should be grateful for her good intentions. She has worked at the DMV 18 1/2 years and she wants to fix someone's hair and not shoot everyone one day at work. Good for her. 


  1. I laughed so hard reading this in the middle of a sleepless night...thank you. I can just picture you in this place, the logical mind vs. government and people with no particular sense of urgency. You, my daughter, should make a living writing as you touch people in a way not many can. Love you.

  2. We always knew you should be a writer anyway!



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