The Quest for a California Driver's License

Well, today was DMV Day, and we got up this morning primed and ready for the experience. Actually, last Friday was supposed to be DMV Day, but due to the poor economic condition of the state of California, many state workers are now forced to take two Fridays of each month off without pay. This includes the DMV workers. I'm not sure how they feel about this, because I didn't ask any of them, but after my experience today I wonder if they are a teeny bit glad to be forced to rest from all of that wave of DMV humanity.

Honestly, the DMV office is in the same category as Wal-Mart in my book - a huge microcosm of society, all nestled (or crammed) into one building. There are probably several reasons that these places are similar. Perhaps it's because most everyone has to go there sometime. Perhaps it's because lots of people have no choice but to drag their small, hungry and tired children along with them when they go. Perhaps it's because the wait can be quite long at both places, and the result is lots of waiting, impatience, and well, displays of humanity along the way.

But I digress. We got to the office about 9:45. This time we had all of our papers ready - the first time we actually went there we didn't have all the papers we needed. We stood in line, declared our intentions to transfer our licenses, and got a number to watch for on the screen: G68.

I fortunately had a book to read while waiting, but I did take occasional peeks around me at all the different types of people. The numbers actually scrolled through fairly quickly, although there were also B, C, D, and H letter/number combinations being flashed up there as well. (I'm not sure what happened to E and F, though. Perhaps they gave those to people who were happy and excited to be at the DMV office, and there just weren't any there today.)

Once our number flashed up, we went to Window 4 and gave the small but muscular worker all of our information. He wanted to know if we had ever had licenses in the state of California before (no), if our marriage license was a certified copy (yes, thank goodness), and if we could see well enough to pass the vision test (yes). Then we paid our $28 each, and he instructed us to go to window #18 where we could take our written test.

"What?!" we exclaimed. "We have to take a written test?"

"Welcome to California," he smiled. "Heh, heh, heh."

This was big news to us, but we were relieved that they would waive the driving test, since we already had valid licenses.

Actually, I think I might have done better on the driving test. We quickly studied through the abbreviated version of the provided official California law book for perhaps 10 minutes, and then decided to go ahead and take it. "How hard could it be?" we asked ourselves. "It's all common sense." Well, about 10% common sense and 90% questions that we had no idea about. Such as what the legal Blood Alcohol Limit is here. Anyone? Anyone? Well, it's .08%. How about "You must contact the DMV office within 5 days if you: a)paint your car b)have an accident c)sell your car to someone else. How about this one: What is the legal speed limit travelling through a blind intersection? a)15 mph b)20 mph c)mph. At least is was multiple choice, and some of the given choices were obviously wrong. Those factors helped in all the guessing that I personally was doing.

You had to miss six questions or less to get your license. Let's just say that one of us missed five questions, and one of us missed seven, but had a very nice DMV employee that let one of us guess again.

So, in a few weeks, we will get our new California licenses in the mail.

Whew. That was a close one.

Larry  – (18 February 2009 at 11:10)  

Wow! What a "fun" experience. At least you both got them. Thank goodness for grace. Larry

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