A New Driver’s License – What An Adventure

As some of you remember, my hubby was required to take the written exam when he renewed his California driver’s license in September and proceeded to drive me nuts (a very short trip) constantly citing the rules of the road while we were driving.

Last week was my turn.  California DMV offices are very busy and an appointment to take the written exam must be made six weeks in advance. On the website there is a list of forms and identification to be brought in, and, if you are requesting a new “Real I.D.” that allows you to board an aircraft, there are a couple more items.  I’d pulled all the paperwork for hubby, so I went ahead and pulled that same paperwork form myself, clipped it with the confirmation of my DMV appointment, and thought I was set. Hubby had taken his Social Security card, but he said they didn’t want it and just used his U.S. passport, so I didn’t include my Social Security cards.

Thence to studying.  Although helpful hubby printed out the 160-page booklet – why would you just run into a DMV office and pick up a free booklet when you can use up 80 pages of paper and ink printing it at home? – I found I was doing well using online practice tests and then looking up specific areas where I needed to improve my knowledge.

The day came last Thursday.  I was calm. Then hubby asked if I had filled out online the application for a Real I.D.  I didn’t remember that?  Online. Found the form.  Filled it out. Hit “send” and got a confirmation number. I wrote the number down, put it with my paperwork, and off I went.

There was a line out the door and around the corner, but I’ve learned that there is always a guard at the door and the guard can help you. He asked if I had an appointment, I said “yes”, and he let me in the door and directed me to a red carpet. Seven people in front of me, line is moving quickly, and there is a person monitoring the line, checking paperwork, and answering questions. This looks good.

I tell the line monitor that I am here for my written test and Real I.D. She asks where my written application is and Social Security card. I show her the confirmation number for the application, but she insists that I must bring in the completed form, so they can scan it into the system. That makes no sense. Why would you complete an online form and get a confirmation number if the information you have placed on the form is not saved somewhere in the DMV computer network.  This nice lady also asks for my Social Security card and says I must have it.  I’m frustrated but still calm. She asks how far away I live, and I say 5 minutes. She tells me to go home and get the application and SS card and come back. OK. I’m off. It takes me 15 minutes to get home.

I first go to where we keep some of our documents and I pull my Social Security card. Then I look at other papers and toss together my birth certificate, marriage certificate, original Social Security card (I got a new one when I changed my last name) thinking that I’d rather have way too much than not enough.  On to the computer where I log in to find my prior application. I try and try, and no matter what page I go to I cannot print. I’m getting frantic and out of control. The DMV person has said that I must bring it, but I cannot print it. OK, I start a new application and fill it out. Then need a new password and there are a couple of side roads having to do with voter registration and body parts donation.  The time is passing and I’m not calming down.  I go to print. There is NO print function available.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but by this time I’m in tears, yelling at the cats “what is wrong??? Why can’t I print this????”.  As a last resort I call hubby on the phone and ask him what he did. He’s just pulling up to the front of the house and tells me to calm down.  His solution is to prepare a new application. So, back we go to the information, which we can read on the screen, then he hits submit, gets a confirmation number, and still cannot print.  Very calmly he tells me to take the confirmation number to DMV. Yeah, right. I had one of those the first time. I’m upset as much out of frustration as knowing that I’ve let this little thing get to me.

Back in the car, through after school traffic, to DMV. Back in the door and the red carpet.  The helpful person isn’t there, but only one person ahead of me. I get to the desk. The fellow is super nice. I explain that I could not print the application and bring it in, as I was told to do earlier. He looks at me and tells me that all I needed was the confirmation number, which he input, and my application came up on the screen. At that point I’m looking for a wall on which to bang my head several times. All the hysteria for nothing. Then he asks for my Social Security card. I give him the original from when I was a teenager. He asks whether I have a new card with my current last name and any document that shows a name change. Yes, I have a new card, and blessedly, I have my Marriage Certificate, with the county seal, to explain the name change. This is something that hubby didn’t need, but I do. So happy that I tossed a few extras together.

The rest?  Smooth as glass. I was given a number and had a short wait.  Next window to double check paperwork, take a thumbprint and eye test. The woman there was fast and pleasant. Of course, in my angst at home I had left my regular glasses on the desk and had to take the eye test with my sunglasses which have an old prescription. Nevertheless, I passed. Next, I turned around, followed yellow footprints on the floor and had my photo taken, then one window to my left I was directed to a row of computers. I very nice gal logged me in and I took my test online, missing just one. Turned around again, my name was called, and I was given my new temporary license by another friendly person.

So, except for the one person who was very nice but apparently mis-informed, it was a smooth, efficient process. My one last remaining hope is that I look reasonably human in my photo.

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