The DMV was everything I expected it to be….unfortunately.

Yesterday I needed to go to the DMV to begin the process of applying for a driving licence [license].

To all my fellow Brits across the pond, the DMV (Department Of Motor Vehicles) is the American equivalent of the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licencing Authority) but with more attitude, sneering and total disregard for anyone and everyone.

We had, in fact, been there the day before at 7:30am which was half an hour before they opened.  However, the queue [line] was already about 80 people deep, so we said ‘fuck it’ and decided to go shopping for some delicious home comforts at the international market.

I’ll write about this another time no doubt.

So yesterday we arrived at the DMV at 7am; a full hour before they opened,  We were still about 40th in the queue [line].  Luckily the sun wasn’t beating down on us making me sweat through my shirt, so that was nice.

It’s amazing watching Americans queue up. Us Brits are renowned for our amazing ability to queue.  If it was an Olympic sport we’d win gold every time, next to moaning about the weather and apologising [apologizing].

The queue was snaking around (what the Americans call) the ‘planters’ and getting quite long.

DMV queue

This is a real satellite photo…honest.

Now, let me ask you a question; where would you join the queue?  I mean, REALLY think about it…where would you stand if you turned up and saw all these pink dots, er, I mean people?

At the end of the queue maybe?

Well, some Americans decided to go down this route…

Dumbfuckery at its finest

Dumbfuckery at its finest

I seriously couldn’t believe the nerve of these people.  They were blatantly attempting to join the queue by giving the snake a second tail.

My wife and I were stood right on that corner, so she politely and with an air of “don’t you fucking dare” pointed out that the back of the line was behind all these increasingly angry faced people.  She may have appeared like she was smiling, but I think a more accurate description would be ‘snarling’.

It amazed me that these twats looked genuinely surprised; like i’d kicked them in the balls without warning.

These people didn’t actually realise what they were doing, which isn’t reassuring when you consider they all have driving licences.

Anyway, once the offices opened we all shuffled in to….well, the same queue, but indoors.  At least it was air conditioned, which was nice.

We got to the desk in no time and was greeted by the clerk who took our details including our phone number (the DMV staff all seem perplexed that we didn’t have a mobile [cell] number and had to take what’s called a ‘home number’).  We were then given each a form to complete and told to take a seat in the waiting room until the last four digits of our phone number was called over the tannoy.  The clerk said it wouldn’t take long as there were only 2 people in front of us.

Great.

So we sat down and completed our forms.  And we sat.

And we sat.

And we sat.

We ignored the dickhead sat next to the ‘please wear headphones’ sign with his phone blaring out YouTube videos.

And we sat.

People came and people went, but we still sat there waiting for our number to be called.

After an hour my ‘smiling’ wife went and rejoined the bastard queue from hell and was told by another desk clerk that our number HAD been called and we missed it.

Er, no we fucking didn’t.

It seems that your number is only ever called out once.  If you miss it you have to rejoin the queue and register it again.

Apparently they also text you to notify you that your number has been called.

No cell phone number, assholes…remember?

Our number must’ve been called in the 4.2 seconds it took to walk from the front desk to the waiting room.

There was no way we could’ve heard it because they don’t have the same tannoy speakers announcing the numbers anywhere else BUT the waiting room; not even in the toilets!

That makes for a nervously quick visit if you’re on your own.

Anyway, our number was FINALLY called half an hour later and we went over to desk 12 and took a seat.

The woman behind the desk – let’s call her Bitchelina – barely looked up at us and said “So what do you want?”

roz blink

Not “How can I help?”, or “What can I do for you?”.  No, she went with “So what do you want?”

My wife explained that she needed to renew her licence, change her surname [last name] to her married name and change her address.  I got halfway through explaining that i needed to apply for a US licence when Bitchelina barked, “Why did they send you to ‘Admin’?”

“I don’t know, we were just told to….”

“You shouldn’t have been sent to ‘admin’.  Why did they send you to me?!”

How the fuck should we know?  Ask the person who sent us; don’t sit there and talk to us like we’d somehow decided it would be funny to come over to your desk and fuck up your day.

Anyway, Bitchelina huffed and puffed about it, moaned openly to her colleagues that we were in the wrong place, stopped processing us on several occasions to socialise with colleagues and generally made it blatantly clear that we were an inconvenience to her.

She was rude, abrupt and only seemed to ask questions that consisted of a maximum of two words.

I had two words for her, and one of them was ‘off’.

(The other was ‘fuck’…in case you were wondering).

Anyway, once I had proven I am a real human being by providing a passport, US visa, proof of address (which still had to be verified by my wife), bank details, birth certificate, blood and urine sample, a cheek swab, the big toe on my left foot and my unborn first child, she thrust the paperwork I needed and grunted in the direction of the testing office.

Before I left I asked her to clarify if the driving portion of the test accepted hand over hand steering, or if it had to be hand to hand (like in the UK).

She didn’t know.

Of course she didn’t.

And that was probably my fault, somehow.

At this point I realised just how true the portrayal of the DMV is in TV and films.  The staff there are truly awful.  It’s where personalities go to die.

Anyway, I went to the testing office, handed over my paperwork and was allocated a machine to sit at for the written part of the driving test.  The machine resembled a cash machine [ATM] complete with touchscreen.

dmv atms

I sat down, pressed the ‘Start’ button and the screen advised there would be 50 questions, of which I had to answer 40 correctly.

No problem; I’d read the Nevada State driving manual and knew all there was about the rules of the road, what the road signs meant, how to navigate the road markings and how the traffic lights [traffic signals] work.

Question 1 – What is skidding?

Oh come on, this is going to be easy!

Question 2 – What do you do at a red light?

This is going to be a walk in the park!

Question 3 – How heavy should a baby be before they can sit facing forward?

Er, what?  Ok, no problem…I can skip it and come back to it.

Question 4 – If you suspect a driver is drunk, what telephone number should you call?

How is that relevant to driving?  I took a guess.  A wrong guess.

Question 5 – If you have an accident, other than the driver, who else should fill out an accident report?

a) A passer by

b) Other passenger(s)

c) The registered owner

Well duh, it’s obviously the other passengers as they would’ve been there at the time of the accident.  Nope, it’s the registered owner.

What??

Did you know that you can also lose your licence if you’re convicted for graffiti?  Nothing to do with vehicles or driving, just the simple act of defacing property with paint.

I didn’t either.

Needless to say, I failed the test.

Bollocks [gosh darn it]

Not only did this mean I felt stupid – considering it had probably been passed by people with an inability to understand the simple act of queuing – but it also meant I had to resit the test.  Imagine my joy when the ‘examiner’ (the woman sat behind the counter scratching her arse [ass] and probably scrolling through her Facebook news feed) told me that I can only do one resit a day.

You mean I have to come back again tomorrow?

Shit.

roz closed

So that evening I read the booklet cover to cover – including the date it was published (July 2014) and the number of staples used (2) – because i’d realised that the written test wasn’t about learning the rules of the road, but testing if you’d actually read the booklet.  If it’s in the booket, they’ll test you on it.

This morning my wife and I went back to the DMV at around 10am, queued up, got snarled at by the desk clerk, gave our telephone number, ran to a seat in case we missed our number being called out, paid the resit fee and went into the testing room to be sat in front of the ATM again.

This time it didn’t ask questions about babies and telephone numbers, naturally.

This time I passed.

Then I was directed to a desk where Bitchelina’s cousin was sat.  She told me I had to wait until the 23rd of September for the driving portion of the test.  That’s a month away!

Then she sternly said “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

I wanted to make sure this option was in ‘addition to‘ having a scheduled test, rather than ‘instead of‘, so I replied, “Oh, so I CAN have the test earlier than the 23rd September?”

She repeated,  “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

That’s not really answering my question.

“So it IS possible to attempt a standby test even if I have a scheduled test in September?”

Without flinching she replied,  “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

2 weeks flashy

Hopefully you’ll get the movie reference, and not photo-sensitive epilepsy.

Each telling of this sentence became more and more insipid; like a piece of fruit gradually decomposing.

strawbaerry rot

Although this particular piece of fruit was bitter to begin with…like a lemon!  Yes, she resembled a rotting lemon.

Hmm, that’s not a sentence I was expecting to write when I began this post.

So that was my first (and technically second) experience of the DMV.  It was a service so far removed from the expected level of customer service you get in the USA.

Maybe they should work on tips like they do in restaurants, then the DMV would be a delightful place to visit.  But until then, they will remain to be a bunch of Demeaning, Monstrous Vaginas.

(See what I did there?)

I will no doubt write about the driving part of my test when it occurs.  It may be on the 23rd of September, or any day when I can get myself on the standby list, but apparently there’s no guarantee I will get a test and I can be sat there all day.

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United Steaks of Hamerica

I’ve been in the U S of A almost 5 days, and already I have SO many notes compiled on things that I’d love to blog about.

That said, I don’t want to blow my load on one post, so I’ve decided to drip feed them in an attempt to look like I’ve thought long and hard about each and every post.

I probably haven’t, just so you know.

Today’s entry is food related.

Last night my wife and I went to a restaurant called Brio in Tivoli Village. Great restaurant with the usual oversize portions and suspiciously joyful staff.

When the waitress (I don’t like the word ‘server’ [1]) took my order, she said “super salad?”

“What?”
“Super salad?”
“Is it?”
“Is it what?”
“Super?”
“Is what ‘super’?”

“The salad?”

There was a pause….

My wife tapped me on the arm and said “Soup or salad”

Yeah, that made more sense.

It seems that choice with your meal is a big thing in the United States.  If you want eggs, you can have them sunny side up [2], over easy, scrambled, boiled, poached or the waiter can bring the chicken out and you can suck the egg directly from its arse.

If you want chips (fries) you can have them regular, curly or seasoned.  Alternatively you can have them boiled, baked or mashed; not to mention the option of hash browns, wedges or having them peeled and inserted rectally to save yourself the calories.

And if you’re having breakfast you can have pancakes, waffles, French toast, English muffins and all sorts of artery clogging carbohydrates….with or without cinnamon frosting or powdered sugar.

Oh, and by the way America,  French Toast isn’t French; nor are English muffins English.  Both are American.

Crepes are French, but oddly you don’t call those French pancakes.

Also, smothering anything with Marinara sauce does not make it Italian.

But I digress.

Going back to the subject of choice when dining, you also get free refills on a lot of things.  Having visited America a lot in the past I am fully aware that you get free refills on coffee and soda (yes, I use the word ‘soda’ now)…but imagine my disappointment when I once declined another bowl of delicious soup at Olive garden only to find out afterwards that it was, in fact, a free refill.

On soup!

This morning I saw an advert on TV (amongst the many, many, many, MANY adverts) for a restaurant called Applebee’s in which they offer free refills on fries.

FRIES!

But, to be fair, you only got these free refills on fries when you order one of their massive, supersized, over the top burgers that includes meat from every species known to man, topped with 8 cheeses and sugar, or something.

It’s like the Heart Attack Grill found on Fremont Street who give free meals to anyone weighing over 350 pounds.  This is a place where they have a burger called the Quadruple Bypass which totals 10,000 calories.

My wife told me that a guy once had a heart attack in the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street and, considering the ‘servers’ are dressed like doctors and nurses, all the other diners though it was some kind of show.

Well, it’s Vegas after all.

But going back to Olive Garden for a second, they offer a “Buy one, Take one” deal on entrees [3].  You order your main meal and they give you another one free.

Seems normal, right?

Well, this second dish isn’t for your dining partner; it’s for you to take home to presumably eat naked and alone in the dark, sobbing with shame.

Lunacy.

But it’s not all bad, they have twist off bottle caps on their beers.  That’s something they’re getting right.

Oh, and they have Spinach and Artichoke dip.

That’s a thing here.

It needs to be a thing everywhere.

Now.

fat uncle sam

[1] Although people in I.T. swear by them 😉
[2] Also known as ‘half cooked, slightly raw and snotty’

[3] Main course

Coming live from Las Vegas!

I’ve made it!  I’m here!

I now live in Las frickin’ Vegas!

welcome to LV

What a massive cow shit of a difference from Crawley in England.

We arrived on Tuesday and it’s now Thursday, so I’ve had a little time to get my bearings.  I know I have a lot left to experience, but even in this short time I have some early observations that I want to share.These observations will be separated into three headings; Driving, Shopping and “Oh, you’re From England?”

The first of these is:

Driving

It all looks so easy.  The roads are about three times as wide as those in England, most of the cars are automatic and the speed limits are lower…so by rights it should all be smooth and easy.

Not so.

There are no road markings!  Ok, I exaggerate, there are a FEW road markings, but only a fraction of what I’m used to in England.  This makes junctions mildly terrifying.

Also, they don’t really make it clear that a lane is ending on the three lane road you’re on, despite the fact that the road doesn’t actually narrow in width.  For a guy like me who is used to specific lanes (WITH road markings), it gets a little unnerving that you’re now effectively driving on a lane and a half.

Then, out of nowhere, the lane you’re in suddenly becomes a mandatory left or right turn with minimal warning and you’re somehow expected to deal with it without impaling yourself on the massive 18 wheeler in the correct lane!

Over here it’s all about signage.  Small postage stamp sized signs with full sentences to read, positioned in obscure places tucked away out of your field of vision.  Well, except for ‘STOP’ signs; they’re EVERYWHERE!  In addition, they require a mandatory stop, even if you can see that there aren’t any cars coming for miles around.

These octagonal bastards are used a lot at four-way junctions (or ‘intersections’) where the rule is: ‘The first person who gets to the junction and stops is the first person who gets to go’.  I suppose it makes some kind of vague sense until you arrive at an intersection the exact same time as someone else; then it becomes some kind of weird Mexican stand off.

I miss simple ‘Give Way’ road markings.

give-way-road-marking

Then there are the traffic lights.  Where do I start?

In the UK they play a simple role; red for ‘Stop’ and green for ‘Go’ (with amber as the transition between them).  In Las Vegas they seem to have different rules depending on which junction you’re at, whether it’s a Thursday or if your star sign has the moon rising in Aquarius.

For example, you should stop at a red light if you’re turning right, right?  Nope, you CAN turn right at a red light, that is UNLESS the microscopic sign fifteen feet above you tells you ‘No turn on red’; that’s nearly caught me a few times.

Then if you’re turning left, you can obviously do so if the left arrow is green, and you can’t if it’s red….but if it’s flashing amber you can turn left providing the lofty sign says ‘Yield to Traffic’.  Surely that means you have to stay still and let traffic pass?  Nope, it means you can turn left providing it’s safe to do so.

traffic signal hell

Then there are flashing red lights that sometimes mean stop and sometimes mean there are lights ahead….or is that flashing amber?

Did I mention that if you’re in a lane designated for turning left or right, you STILL have to ensure your indicators are on.

Plus, the speed limits are laughable.  Near our house it’s a 35mph limit on a road the size of a UK dual carriageway, which is 60mph.  These are long, wide roads with plenty of room, so why so slow?

With the speed limits, Stop signs, unmarked roads and traffic lights from hell….it takes forever to get anywhere.

All this in a country where 32% of citizens own guns.

Still, one thing that the USA does do right with regards to motoring is the price of fuel and the fuel pumps that lock into place.

Although, if I hear Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “When I See You Again” on the radio one more time, I’m going to make it 33%.

Shopping

One of the things I wasn’t looking forward to in the USA was the sheer magnitude of adverts (or ‘commercials’) on the TV.  Every 10 minutes, for 10 minutes.

I have to say the frequency of these interruptions is a bit annoying, but at least the adverts are better than those in the UK.  American commercials tend to be funnier and more upbeat.  Plus, hearing all the side effects of some miracle drug or another is just laughable.

‘Want to reduce your blood sugar?  Ask your doctor about Fuckitol.  Side effects may include dizziness, high blood pressure, impaired vision, rectal bleeding, the loss of one or more limbs, nasal collapse and excess navel hair.  So ask your doctor about Fuckitol today”

Now, I know this next thing has been covered a million times on a million blogs, but adding tax to your purchase at the cash register sucks!

This is mildly annoying when buying clothes and stuff, but we bought a laptop at Best Buy and I got stung for $26 extra when I came to pay for it.  At least in the UK you paid what it said on the label.  I miss that already!

Today we went to Barnes and Noble, which is America’s answer to Waterstones.  But that’s where the similarity ends.  This ‘bookshop’ had (in addition to books) Movies, toys, movie merchandise, a café and restrooms.  Yes, this bookshop had toilets!  It seems that almost every shop (or ‘store’) in Las Vegas has toilets.  This is where England gets it wrong.

No-one likes to shop on a full bladder (or bowel).  Well done America, you win with regards to retail.

“Oh, you’re From England?”

No matter where we’ve gone over the last 3 days, as soon as someone hears my accent I get asked where I’m from.

Most correctly guess England; some still think it’s Australia.

As soon as they learn that I’m from England, they tell me they have a cousin/uncle/sister in law that either lives in England/Wales/Ireland (pick one), or originally comes from there.

I don’t care.  Just give me my laptop.

My favourite (I can’t bring myself to use ‘favorite’ yet) encounter, however, was in Trader Joe’s; an organic and vastly overpriced supermarket.  The cashier was loving my “British accent” and asked me “Is it always foggy in England?”

foggy london

Yes, and Jack The Ripper still roams the streets of London.

Now, this is only after three days of being here.  God only knows what experiences I’ll have going forward.

I can’t wait to find out.

A toilet observation, on the fly

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this is mainly due to nothing happening in the jobless lead up to emigrating to America.

Have I  mentioned that I’m moving to Las Vegas?

No, I probably haven’t….over and over and over again.

Anyway, last night my wife and I were at a restaurant rubbing our joy in people’s faces when I decided to visit the restroom (yes, I said ‘restroom’; I’m getting into practice because I know Americans will have difficulty with ‘bog’, ‘carsey’, ‘gents’ and probably even ‘lavatory’ and ‘toilet’).

I walked into the bathroom (still practicing) and walked to the urinals.

Ladies, there is an unwritten rule that you never stand next to another man having a piss unless you have no choice; you should always leave a space of at least one urinal between you.

Well, I had no choice on this visit as there were three urinals and the middle one was occupied. There’s nothing more comfortable and lacking in awkwardness than standing shoulder to shoulder with another man holding his penis.

Thankfully as I started taking care of business, he concluded his and began to zip up his fly.

I wasn’t watching him by the way, but I was so close to him I would’ve been able to tell you how much change he had in his pocket.

£2.37.

However, this guy was taking forever to do such a simple task. This was mostly because he’d undone every fucking button on his jeans, including his belt, so he was now painstakingly taking forever to sort himself out.

Come on man, learn how to use your fly. You only need to undo a few buttons to unleash the beast.

To drink juice from a carton, you open up a flap at the top to get at the contents; you don’t open the entire thing at the seams!

What next?

image