Thursday, September 17, 2009

Triumph over the Portal to Hell!

Today is a good day. I have been to the Portal to Hell and emerged, victorious. After long last, I managed to go to the DMV and leave without wanting to commit mass violence.

Yes, I am an Ohio licensed driver.

I'm also pleased to add that the DMV employees, while not nice, exactly, were not...unpleasant.

I'm shocked. And pleased.

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know of all my DMV troubles. If not, you can read about them here and here...and here. Oh, and here. Yes, I have had a LOT of trouble at the DMV.

Fortunately, today, the stars must have been aligned because I got what I wanted and no one was rude. I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

My first stop this morning was the Regional Service Centre at the DMV. This is the place you go when they threaten to take away your license or actually do so. I was a threatened-ee. Fortunately, since the State of Indiana decided two days ago to unsuspend my driving privileges there, Ohio could see that and they had no case. They still wanted the $30 reinstatement fee until I politely pointed out that since the date upon which my license would be suspended had not yet passed, my license didn't have to be reinstated. They hemmed and hawed and consulted on that one then, finally, one wise DMV employee pointed out that they could, perhaps, look in the 'system' because it usually said how much I owed. Sure enough, it told them I owed...nothing. I'm rather glad I had them look because I have a feeling they would have taken the money otherwise and there wouldn't have been a reinbursement in my future.

Second stop, the license branch. I had a rather long wait while the two slowest people in the world tried to man the desk alone and, during which time, one of those two people stopped to yell loudly into a cell phone to try to get someone else to come in and help. While I fully support and endorse her decision to get more people in there to work, perhaps calling someone and telling her to get "her lazy ass out of bed before she gets kicked in the butt!" in the hearing range of people who, probably, like me have a bit of a negative view of the DMV...was not a great idea, per se.

Nevertheless, after a nice ten minute wait in line in which the Snails of the DMV dealt with the one customer in front of me, I finally got up there. My DMV snail, who was also the angry phone-yeller, was convinced she was going to trip me up, I'm sure of it.

Here's a quick recap:

DMV Snail: Yes?
Captain Monkeypants: I need to switch my California license to Ohio.
DMV Snail: Oh. (Pause). You need to take the written test first
CM: I did that.
DMV Snail: Oh. (She types into her computer). I can't find you.
CM: Oh, well, here's the paper that says I passed. (I smugly hand her my paper)
DMV Snail: (Examining the paper) It says you have a hold on your license.
CM: Not anymore. Just took care of that.
DMV Snail: (sighing, seemingly with disappointment) Do you have your Social Security Card
CM: Why, yes I do! ( I hand it to her)
DMV Snail: (Examining the card). I suppose I should see your California license.
(I hand it to her. She scrutinizes it then starts typing).
DMV Snail: Do you do drugs or alcohol in excess while driving?
CM: Nope.
DMV Snail: Do you have seizures or any other condition that makes you unsafe to drive?
CM: Nope
DMV Snail: Do you have any outstanding tickets?
CM: Nope
DMV Snail: Are you a US Citizen?
CM: Uh, no. Permanent resident.
(I see her eyes gleam with a secret hope)
DMV Snail: Do you have an I-5 form?
CM: No. ( I pause). But I do have a green card. Would you like to see it.
(I see her face fall).
DMV Snail: Yes.
(I hand it to her. She scrutinizes it. After long last, she enters everything into the computer, verifies it and prints it off to me to sign.)
DMV Snail: You need to have your picture taken over there. But, first, it's $23.
I stop. It seems a little high but, at this point, I'm literally moments from getting that stupid, shiny piece of laminated plastic. I sigh. Then I have a horrible realization. I have no cash.)
CM: Do you take checks? (She pauses.)
DMV snail: (Sighing) Yes.

I wait for her to tell me that they don't accept out of state checks. Then I realize that my check isn't out-of-state because I live in Ohio. She doesn't argue. She hands me a receipt, I get my picture taken and, moments later, out pops my new Ohio license.

I could complain that I came out looking orange in the picture, that I look like my face looks like it belongs to a giant. It's a big picture. My California license had a nice, dainty little picture on it. Ohio likes to scream "THIS. IS. YOU. SUCKER!". I think I look like an orangutang. And yes, while my moniker does imply that I love monkeys, it doesn't mean I want to look like a monkey.

But, the license is MINE. No more will I have to run through the reasons to be paranoid when I see a police car parked and waiting to swoop on a victim. I now have legal plates. I now have an Ohio license and thus haven't violated the "You must apply for a license 30 days after you move here" rule. I now have an unsuspended license in Ohio and Indiana.

I suppose, in a way, when I handed my license over to the DMV snail, that was truly the end of the L.A. period of my life. I am officially a Midwesterner again. While I have friends in L.A., there is barely a mark that shows I was ever there except the vestiges of my work at USC.

It's a bittersweet realization. I love being back in the Midwest, back to my family, back to a quieter life. Yet it's the end of a phase of my life that led to my discovery of who I am and what I want. I loved being there and there are some things I miss about L.A, sometimes on a daily basis. Yet everything I did, everything that happened, the good, the bad, the happy and the tragic...they're all part of a life experience that will never leave me. Everything that happens to us becomes part of us so, I can't help but feel that L.A. is a part of me and I brought part of it with me.

I never got to say goodbye to my license; it was taken and disposed of as I watched. It might have just been a little laminated piece of plastic but it was my last easy written evidence that I have ever lived there and been part of the crazy world of Los Angeles.

Still, the upside to having such bad DMV experiences in the past is that, as a result, today's was so joyous, I didn't have time to lament. I grabbed that piece of plastic and practically ran out of that DMV building before they could change their mind or ask for my first (as yet unborn) child in order for me to get my license.

As such, I now possess an Ohio license on which I look rather simian and orange.

But I possess a license. Oh, happy day.

Happy Thursday!

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