Friday, December 07, 2007

Driving Hazards.

When I move to a new place, one of the last things I get around to doing is updating my driver's license. If it's just a matter of a new address, I've been known to go years (I think four years is my record, and I only updated it then because I'd lost 40 pounds and bore no resemblance to the original picture and was too vain to keep it any longer). Moving to a new state, though, requires additional annoyances. In the state of Minnesota, one is required to take a test in order to get a license. I did not know this. I had passed by the office in the strip mall with the large "Driver's Licenses" sign several times, and on this Monday, I had an hour and figured I might as well take care of it.

The clerk was a far cry from the slightly insane, overly friendly women I remembered from South Dakota. This clerk reminded me of DMV clerks from my New York days - gruff, uninterested in his work (can't fault him there), and of few words. He directed me to my testing station and wished me a surprisingly-sincere-sounding "good luck."

I sat down in front of number 25, touched the screen to begin, and started my test, confident that my 19 years of driving would stand me in good stead. No, not just confident - I was arrogant. I was sure that whatever they'd throw at me, my years of experience would more than equip me to handle.

Good think I didn't have to take a driving test: I missed about seven questions. One or two were in error - I had known the answer and accidentally chosen the wrong one. The rest were real mistakes - things having to do with the exact number of feet one must leave between oneself and, say, a school bus (I still don't remember).

I ended up scoring an 86 on the test, which I was a little indignant about. However, after I had filled out my paperwork and gone to wait for my eye exam, I learned from an enthusiastic and very friendly young man that 80 was passing, and I felt relieved that I hadn't missed any more of the questions. (The young man told me he'd waited ten years to get his license, and I wish, now, that I'd asked him about that, because that's interesting: Why ten years? What was keeping him from getting his license all that time?)

When I was finally called up for my eye exam, I was asked to present a birth certificate - which I didn't have on me. It had never occurred to me, stupidly, to ask what paperwork I might need to bring (although I've never needed a birth certificate to get a license, at least not in recent memory). They told me to come back with it and to bypass the line. I had been there for an hour.

I came back later that afternoon, armed with a copy of my birth certificate. The line, by this time, had gotten quite long, and I felt anxious about cutting in front of all of those people (but I did it anyway - I'm not crazy, and besides, Bean was with me. If we'd had to wait in that line, people would have been asking me to go ahead of them just so they could hustle us out the door faster.).

My birth certificate copy is not "official." This means it does not have a raised seal.

Thankfully, the unofficial copy still has all the pertinent information, so that when the driver's license people turned me away, I could go online (here is a good site for U.S. folks, if you need to do this) and find out to whom I should write.

I joked with a friend that I'd be sunk if the birth certificate people needed a copy of my driver's license - and as it turned out, they do require a copy of a photo ID. I'm wondering if the fact that my driver's license has a different address and state on it than my check and mailing address does will cause me problems.

So, now I wait. If I get the new, official copy of the birth certificate within 30 days, I don't have to take the test again. Cross your fingers.


nexy said...

i was quite thankful that the arizona dmv was a bit more forgiving. i just handed them my n.j. license, $5.00, and in a few minutes they took my picture and handed me my arizona drivers license. no other i.d. or testing required. i was in and out of there within a half hour. and they even let me keep my motorcycle license as well.

getting my name changed after i got married was almost as easy, though i didn't know i had to change my name at social security first. after that was done though, again it was a half hour process, including the new picture.

Plain(s)feminist said...

It's easy to get your name changed after marriage if you're a woman - the whole system is designed to support and encourage that (here I go!). If you're a man, though, not so easy.

SkippyMom said...

Dream a little dream, Alfie . [Great song from the movie "Alfie", duh, and I date myself.]
You are SO taking that test again. Giggle...and I am not laughing at you sweetheart, just at your naivete that you think the state where you were born will actually issue anything within a month [Have you learned nothing from me? hee!]
Seriously...the DMV anywhere sucks....doesn't it? How do they think you received your other DL? I have only ever had a VA DL and no matter what...if I lost it...must have Birth Certificate...I have had this since I was 16 and can name every address, ticket, name change..but no...I must have a birth certificate, second id, lease or mortgage papers, name it...meanwhile over at counter three I am listening to a conversation entirely in Farsi.

Call me cynical. I am not kidding.

Green said...

When I moved to FL I didn't have to take a test, just surrender my NY DL (which sucked because it was honestly the absolute best picture of me EVER). When I moved to CA I had to take a test and I look like I'm being electrocuted - it's an AWFUL picture.

Good luck not having to take the test.

Plain(s)feminist said...

See, the thing that worries me is, I'm supposed to go to Mexico this summer. I haven't even looked at what documentation I need for a passport. Oh, I just know I'm going to end up horribly screwed...

Ravenmn said...

That thing about waiting 10 years? Could be from living in the city. My daughters are in their mid-20s and completely unconcerned about learning to drive or getting a license. They're too poor to afford a car and insurance. They use public transportation all the time.

You definitely need to move on getting a passport soon. Last I heard, it can take months.