Ahhh, the DMV. Always playing hard to get, no matter how hard and awkward I try, like in those high school movies where I learned about this great country in the first place. One day she will see me for who I am, and we’ll break out in dancing, because I radically changed who I was into someone I secretly despise (the plot of Grease, if you were wondering). Before I continue this morbidly sarcastic love song on the Department of Motor Vehicles, let me warn you. This is technically a part II, following last Tuesday’s tail on how I did or did not need my marriage certificate to get my driver’s license. So to really soak in the drama that will unfold in the following paragraphs, please read my previous post first (if you’re lazy, its last paragraph is a summary).
So, my mission was clear: to get a driver’s license, I needed to let my paper, temporary version expire, get to the office and have them extend its expiration date, a process we’d repeat until bureaucrazy (not a typo) had caught up with my complexity. Sounds simple enough. Go ahead, shake your head and whisper, “It’s never that simple, fool. It’s a trap!” And a trap it was. Clueless of what adversaries lay ahead of me, I walked into the license bureau. It was a sunny day, which gave me a deceiving good mood. Radiant with confidence in a happy ending, I greeted the nice lady that had helped me the week before after a very short wait. She recognized me, we exchanged the meaningless I’mgoodhowareyous, and I sat down as she explained the process to me.
“Okay, you were in here last week, and you needed a new temporary version.”
I agreed, and added, “Why, yes, what an excellent memory you have. You told me to come back after it expired, and as it did yesterday, here we are now!”
We laughed out loud, and she asked once more, probably to make sure we were on the same page, “So your paper version expired yesterday, and you came in today, as I told you to do?”
Nodding enthusiastically, I replied, “Yes, yes, I did.”
She grabbed the phone and said, “Well, let’s not waste another second then, shan’t we?”
That’s odd, I thought to myself, ending a double negative with the word shan’t, that must be one of those DMV paradoxes. Little did I know, it was perfectly symbolic for what would happen next.
Outside, the clouds darkened, and the first drops of heavy rain slammed against the window. The wind howled around the ugly strip mall and the baby that was sleeping just a few seconds ago started crying. Thunder and lightning simultaneously filled the air the moment the lady in front of me put down the phone.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, but we can’t extend your temporary license. You should have come in before it expired.”
I wrote Tuesday’s post before I went back, so I thought that day justified going postal, but I am absolutely certain this time I was never closer to a complete mental breakdown. If you’d look close enough, my saliva was probably foaming. After video games, visiting the DMV could very well be a source of violence. Luckily, my coping mechanisms set in before endless rage took over, and I managed to respond. “But you told me to come in here after it expired.”
“Yes,” she agreed, “it turned out that wasn’t right. But you don’t really need a new paper version, because the expiration date for your driver’s license is October 2014.”
This time, I could see how true it was. Technically, I have a driver’s license. I keep the expired temporary version with me, because it’s the only prove I have. It has two expiration days, and only one is important now. The other one cannot be extended, because I technically don’t have an immigrant status. Well, I do, but not really tangible. Like my driver’s license, evidently. If they’d just give me a job to go with it, all this paperwork really wasn’t all that necessary in the end.