I’m not sure whether to file this under Rants or Travel. Both are vaguely appropriate. I guess I could enable some sort of tagging function on Clapboard, but what the hell? I don’t get enough traffic to make that an issue. Also, who really cares, when your search function works? Anyway.
Okay, this rant has gotten entirely too long for the front page of a website. If you want pain and misery (and that’s just reading about my week), click through. No presents if you get to the bottom of the article, but you get the satisfaction of knowing that you have the iron resolve needed to deal with the CA DMV.
Click below to read on. If you dare.
I’m effectively an illegal citizen of California and the country. I have an expired Drivers License and an expired passport. I’m supposed to fly on Friday.
Buy stupid-expensive ticket. Realize that the DL is expired. Go to DMV. Find out that I have an outstanding ticket that I didn’t set up a court date for. They don’t send you anything in California, so the first reminder you get is a note telling you that your license has been suspended and that you’re pretty much fucked. Or, in my case, you often get a personal notice in the form of an officer telling you that, hey, your license is suspended and he’s considering throwing you in jail. This time, my license isn’t suspended (yet), but it IS flagged for non-renewal, and i can’t renew until this has been taken care of.
From the parking lot (naievely thinking that I could take care of it and go back in), I spend 90 minutes trying to get through to the court system. After two minutes on the phone with whomever, the call is over – my account is already in colletions. Number of letters received: 0. Already in collections. What the fuck. So I call collections. They answer immediately. I owe $1130. For a dubious failure to stop? Really? I want to set up a court date, since I never actually had one of those. Oh, well, I’ll transfer you. Sorry, they’re all at lunch. Lunch? Yes, call back in an hour. So I went home.
63 minutes later, I’m on the phone, and in 3 more minutes, I have a date with the Law in early March. Fascinating how when they want your money, the state is so fast to respond. Have a question? Fuck off. We’re here to bill you, not help you. If you want the DMV to know, though, you have to get a paper abstract from the court.
Get up at 630, get to the court house by 815. Line 1 to tell them that I want to buy an abstract. They nod and write a word on a slip of paper and tell me to get in the real line. Line 2 is huge. You’re not getting out without getting in that line, it seems. Okay, I brought my book. Buy a paper abstract, which is like 1/8 of a piece of paper. They staple a real receipt to it and tell me to leave.
I head up to the DMV. Yay – about to get the piece of paper to get my license. Or not. They look at me like I have three heads with the paper thing. We don’t look at abstracts, only the computer. I see your receipt, but that’s just bullshit. You wasted your morning – if it’s not in the computer, you’re still fucked. Well, that can’t be, because I went down there and they sold me this abstract. Why would they still sell this thing if it’s not the get-out-of-jail-free card they say it is? We just like to fuck you over, I guess. Now leave.
So I leave, ready to cry. I go to the passport office in a post office in Beverly Hills. The woman there will expedite to 2 weeks. Not faster? Not faster. Shit. Head home. The actual passport agency won’t talk to you unless you’re leaving the country. Anything less than international travel isn’t considered an emergency. Fuck you, passport agency. I call a couple of places that will expedite your passport in exchange for your firstborn. Maybe I’ll do that. All we need is your expired passport and your ID, they say. Oh, sweet irony, I say.
One guy does suggest something genius, which is to go get a non-drivers’ ID card at the DMV (which can’t be blocked because it’s not for driving, right?) and bring that paper and the old ID & passport to the office, where, in exchange for $159, $60 in FedEx fees and $135 for the state, they’ll get me my passport by Thursday.
Went back to the DMV in the afternoon. The hold still hadn’t cleared from my record. I told the guy my sob story about needing an ID and then that I thought maybe it would be a good idea to get a non-drivers’ ID for the interim, because the temporary card plus my expired license would be enough to get me aboard a plane. The guy said he agreed, and took my $24 and sent me to get my picture taken. Fun. After the picture line (which was longer than the regular line, btw), the woman snapped my picture and sent me on my way. I asked about where I picked up the temporary card and she said Oh, we don’t give those out for IDs. You’ll get your card in 5 to 10 business days.
What the fuck. I just paid $24 to a guy that neglected to mention that I wouldn’t get a temporary ID? Now I’m pissed. I mean, I’ve been pissed from the start, but this is ridiculous. Of course, what can I do? So I left, defeated once again.
First off, I’m skipping Thursday. Thursday would have been less than the 72 hours quoted to me by the DMV and the court (one of the few things that they agreed on), and I doubted I’d get any cooperation from anyone if it hasn’t been the official amount of time. Also, I was sick of the DMV.
So today is the end of my saga, and it ends happily. Well, license-wise, it ends happily. I’m still not on a plane yet, although I intend to post this before that time comes. I went to the DMV this morning and got to the window moments past the 73-hour mark. Record still not clear. The girl I was dealing with this time (DMV#5) told me that if I called the court they might expedite the process now that it’s been 72 hours and since I fly this evening. I doubted it, but what could I do? She wasn’t going to do anything on her end.
Call to the Met Court. These things always take forever. There are 79 people in the queue ahead of you. Why an 80-man queue? No idea. I had to call four times just to get into that queue, so there’s that. Anyway, I had already resolved to call back a few times and talk to multiple people if I had to, because this was reaching the zero-hour, and I was getting desperate. Turns out that I didn’t have to do that. After almost reaching an impasse, I patiently re-explained everything to the phone-lady (who, to her credit, was listening the second time) and she stopped for a minute and then said “Hmm” and I knew she’d gotten it. I’d gotten her. Either way, it was a formality of listening to the court’s Boop-Boop! hold sound for ten or fifteen minutes while she cleared things up with her supervisor.
By the time I got back inside and to the counter (to DMV#6!), the record was clear. I paid my fees and got my headshot taken. Then I had to take a written test. I got one wrong (about smoking in the car with minor children – always illegal, as it turns out), but that was fine. They didn’t even say goodbye or sing me off. Ah well.
So here I am. I’m putting the finishing touches on this post, getting ready to mow, and then getting ready to shower and pack. I’m a machine. A stupid, non-careful, DMV-defying machine. Thanks for reading all of this, and I’m sorry that I took up all your time. Next update will be way cooler. I wish I could promise naked chicks, but I can’t. I’ll come up with something.