Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Which I Get Good at Bureaucracy

We moved to Oregon a few months ago and have, ever since, been putting off making it legal. (It's the residency equivalent, I suppose, of knocking someone up and fleeing the state before her pa can tell you to make an honest woman out of her.) (I feel like this metaphor is going to fall apart on me soon, so best to abandon it here.) 

But the hubby's Michigan license was set to expire soon, so off to the DMV we went. 

The Oregon DMV is a wretched little building populated by bored people. The flippy-hair chick at the information desk is bored, the scraggly-hair lady at the computer is bored, and the unwashed masses of people clutching their checkbooks--some of whom have been there long enough to actually begin decaying--are also bored. (We fell into this last category.) (Not so much the unwashed part.) 

The flippy-hair chick--somehow I remember her chewing gum, although this cannot actually be the case--added up the costs for us. Sixty bucks each for licenses. $173 for the license plates. Some other large amount of money for the registration. Five bucks each to take the driving test. And seven dollars--this amount sticks in my head--for a VIN inspection. The VIN inspection consisted of the flippy-hair chick leaving her desk, walking outside, looking at a set of very tiny numbers hidden on the car, and then returning to her desk. Seven dollars for this. Do you know how many lattes that would buy me? (Two.) 

After the VIN inspection (which, I've just got to say, the car passed with flying colors), off we went to sit in the chairs. After the length of an ice age scraggly-hair lady called us up, looked at the eighty-seven identifying documents we'd brought along, and concluded that we had insufficient proof of address. 

It was around this point that I started longing for cake. I figure when people move to a new state the least its DMV can do is provide a party of some sort. Would welcome balloons really have killed them? 

Scraggly-hair lady seemed disinclined to provide balloons.

So Hubby ran home to get extra proof of address. (Looking the lady squarely in the eye and saying very sincerely, "I promise you I live here," didn't seem to do the trick.) He returned, documents in tow, twenty minutes later. In these twenty minutes the scraggly lady had already forgotten us, so we had to begin the process all over again. But finally she let us take the test. 

Here are some things you need to know in order to get a driver's license in the state of Oregon:
  • The exact distance at which you should flick off your brights when another is approaching from the opposite direction. (I just turn them off when I see the other car's headlights. Apparently you're supposed to wait until they're within 400 feet. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not very good at judging distance when it's pitch black out.)
  • The amount of your fine should you not provide proof of insurance upon an officer's request. 
  • How long after a move you have to provide the DMV with your new address. 
  • What you should do when you see a big red sign that says "STOP." 
I got one of these questions right, plus a few others, but was ultimately declared a menace to society, and scraggly-hair lady refused to grant me a license. Hubby got many more questions right than I did. He got his license. 

So back I went the next day to re-take the test. Same bored people in the same wretched building. I passed this time--fewer stupid questions--but the powers that be (scraggly-hair lady was nowhere in sight) once again refused to grant me a license because I'd neglected to bring all fifty-eight thousand pieces of documentation. 

But I returned, still valiant, on the third day, every piece of paper that has ever had my name on it in hand, and presented them to the scraggly-hair lady, who was now wearing a pair of badly ripped jeans. She took my picture and asked me if I wanted to be an organ donor.

"Everything but my eyes," I said. "I wouldn't wish my vision on anyone. Ha ha ha."

"Um, there's not really a form for that?" she said. (Did I mention that she was an up-talker?) 

"Never mind," I said. 

"Well, welcome to Oregon," she said, and cracked what may have been a scraggly-toothed smile. It wasn't a welcome cake, and it certainly wasn't a bunch of balloons, but I felt like we'd become friends by this point. I smiled back. 

1 comment:

  1. What a heinous process.

    Btw, I think there's a way to link your blog to facebook so it updates fb when you publish. I'm not sure how to do it, but it's possible, if you're so inclinded. (Although I think the person I'm thinking of uses wordpress....)