Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Joys of Drivers License Renewal (or How did you spend the day before your birthday?)

Short Story: Went to DMV. Renewed License. Wanted Enhanced Drivers License. Couldn't because marriage certificate was invalid. Went home 6 hours later. Also, I am a super hero. Click here. My cape is hot pink taffeta. I thought you should know.

To learn the sweet, fun and gory details read...

The Long Story:

Yesterday I went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to renew my drivers license. We live about an hour from the Canadian Border so I wanted to get the new Enhanced Drivers License (edl). I arrived at about 1:45 p.m. They close at 4:30. I took my number from the little machine by the door and sat down one chair away from a man whose number was about 20 ahead of mine. (I know 'cuz I peeked and since I don't do very well sitting quietly when there are human beings around...) I asked him how long he had been there. Now remember, it is about 2pm by now. "Well," he said, looking at the time on his ticket number (did you know they have entrance times on them?) "since ...11:37."

At this point I was wondering if I even had a chance of getting in. Then an announcement was made, "If you are here for your Enhanced Drivers License you will need the following: a certified birth certificate, proof of residency with correct address like a mortgage bill or PUD bill, your current drivers license, your social security number and if you are a married woman you will need a certified marriage certificate to show proof of the name change from what is on your birth certificate."

Okay, what?

Cycle Guy got his edl about a month ago when he hit his 4th twin digit birthday turned 29. He takes good care of me and made sure I had a bill and a birth certificate but didn't know about the marriage certificate. I wouldn't be getting my enhancement that day after all.

Knowing that the DMV opens their doors at 8:30 in the morning my plan was to arrive before then and be among the first in the door. At 8:25 I found myself behind at least 30 other people. Apparently mine was not an original idea. My number was 615. They started at 600 for the edl's. Other things had their own number systems. I only cared about the 600's.

First thing, Bill (the interviewer for the edl) wandered around the room answering questions and handing out fliers. On this flier we were informed that the marriage certificate must be official with a record number on it. Mine has a number on it, but no embossed symbol. I was beginning to worry so I asked him and he said, "Yup that's the number we need." Good, now I'll just sit tight and wait. In the meantime, I went to Safeway and bought a hot chocolate, canceled my piano lesson and tried to read. Did you know that it's really hard to concentrate when you have to watch the numbers at the front of the room not moving? Much easier to read in the dentist waiting room while your kids get their teeth cleaned. Just sayin'.

I am currently participating in a hydration contest and was feeling a sense of urgency for the young ladies room but at about 11:00a.m. #613 was called. 614 left at about 9 when she found out she needed a marriage certificate. I was next and wasn't about to miss my number because I was behind a closed door. So I waited. Finally at 11:35 MY number came up!

There was a group of people on the other side of the room having way too much fun and as I walked by a man offered me $50.00 to trade numbers with him. No doing... I had already been here for 3 hours and with #639 who knew if he would even make it in today!

Without so much as a smile or a hello I was asked for my name and documentation. Then, "This marriage certificate will not work." Screaming voices in my head: "WHAT, NO! I'VE BEEN HERE FOR 3 HOURS! ...BILL SAID..." Instead I calmly responded, "I wondered about that at 8:30 this morning and Bill told me that this number is fine." With the emotion of a gnat she says, "I'll check with the tech but it's not going to work." The good part of that is that she still put me through the eye test and spelling of my name.

Once again I took my seat only this time I sat with the fun group on the other side of the room.

Then I stood up and wandered around.

Then I sat down. (with the fun group)

Then I stood up.

Filled my water bottle. Again.

Sat down.

At 1:30 I heard a word that made my soul dance: "Jenette" (my name is Jenette. The name of an elegant fairy queen. I go by Jenny. The name of the mischievous imp fairy. I like it that way)

I was being interviewed by Donita. She was soooo nice. I worried after the gnat that first took my number but Donita was very nice.

She said, "We tried to do some overrides but the number on your marriage certificate is church generated. It can't be used to find you in the system." As I tried to wrap myself around this Bill leaned over the cubicle wall and apologized sincerely. Apparently most churches don't have a number on the certificates they give so he assumed my number was state issued. They were being so nice, but the voices in my head were back, " 5 1/2 hours I've been waiting! " But I waited silently.

(Trying to slow down. Trying not to sweat the small stuff. And other than valuable time spent sitting, it hadn't been a bad day.)

It just didn't feel like they were trying to make any closure. Donita went on, "We will go ahead with your interview, renew your regular license and keep a file with your name on it. When you get a state generated certified marriage certificate bring it in. Get a number but don't wait. Go directly to counter #1 and tell them the situation. They will know exactly where to find your file and add that information."

I didn't whine. I could have whined.

Donita was kind and respectful. She could have been annoyed that I was too dim to bring in the right document.

Bill was sincere. My document had a number. He faced me eye to eye and was sorry he made a mistake.

The system isn't working well. It's too bad people have to wait ALL day to renew a drivers license, but these people remained professional and kind. (well, except for the gnat at the counter, but we'll not worry about her. Maybe she'll learn from Donita and Bill.)

There is something to be said for respect and kindness. After a full day and an unsuccessful objective, I came away cheerful, the voices in my head had kind things to say, and I did renew my regular license.


Mike J said...

6 hours! That's nuts. I don't think I would have been so patients. If you don't have the proper paperwork does that mean you're not really married. I hope not.

Me and My Family said...

you are so patient! I think my response would have been much different. I probably would have left after 3 hours and said I'll try another day. But then again I would probably have little ones nagging at me or a babysitting deadline to meet.

Tranquility said...

You are sooo right about the kindness and respect issue. It really can make all the difference - especially in a difficult situation!

Oh my gosh - what an ordeal. I hadn't yet heard about the edl - I googled it in mid-read of your post. Sounds like a good idea, but waaaay too complicated. How confusing - a church cert. doesn't count? A marriage is a marriage, right? Aren't the majority of marriages done in a church (mine wasn't, but I eloped and that's another story for another time) and shouldn't they be prepared for those? ;)

Hmm... thanks for the heads up. I think I'll just keep using my passport until they get things all tidied up and easier to accomplish. I always keep it with me anyways (in case I need to make a quick escape or something - j/j).

Linda said...

See, now I would have squirted Bill with my water bottle. Or swatted him with my pink cape.

Or both.

everydayMOM said...

That is so frustrating! I'm frustrated just reading it. I can't imagine how you must have felt!

Now, I guess you can go spend six hours in the clerk's office trying to get a certified marriage certificate. =]

Rogers said...

Jeesh. I need to renew my license and was thinking about getting and edl, but then again......

Hopefully, getting a certified marriage certificate will be much easier :D

Dawn said...

WOW! Maybe next time you can do it through the mail. Can you do that in the far north!!
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you!!

LVP said...

Well, I have to wonder how Donna and Bill and (gnat) feel about the world as they drive home at 5 pm. I think you might take a rose to Donna and ( ) and a cigar to Bill when you go back to get the edl. It must be tough to still be kind at 4 pm in that room.

everydayMOM said...

Jenny, you absolutely want to start with Lost Season 1. You can't jump in in the middle! Can't wait to hear what you think!

Suzi said...

DMV bites. The government is the slowest agency ever, they move at a snails pace and it kills me. I hate to go there for any reason at all! Sorry you had to endure their bureaucratic bull shit.

Tanielle said...

Wow...what a crazy day! But you kept such a good and calm attitude! You are awesome!

I gave you an award!:-) Have a great weekend!