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