We’re Legal! We’re Californians

driver-license-photoTrip number two to the DMV this afternoon. We had a 12:15 PM appointment. The scrolling sign at the head of the line said wait times for folks with appointments: 12 minutes. Wait time without an appointment: 222 minutes!

Are you kidding me? That’s mind numbing.

Once we got to the head of the line and my paperwork was checked, I was sent outside to have my car inspected. This isn’t a safety or smog check. The inspector is making sure you’re registering the car you claim to be registering with the proper VIN number.


It was back to the head of the line where I was given a ticket, like at the deli counter at Ralph’s. I found a chair and waited.

A055, A056, A057, A058, A059, A060. That’s me! I was off to Window 5.

It was about this time when I realized the DMV process is the opposite of efficient! There are papers swapped and humans involved every step of the way. I can’t think of any private business this labor intensive.

I signed papers, showed my passport, took the eye test (corrective lenses required), had my thumbprint read and gave up my debit card.

The woman on the other side of the counter looked up and gave me my marching orders. Window 1 for my new California plates, then the photo line followed by Room 2.

Could I program this into the GPS?

So many steps. I got the plates without worry, had my photo taken (think Nick Nolte after his DUI arrest), thumbprint read again, signed some papers I didn’t read and headed to Room 2.

I walked in and spied Helaine. She was sitting in the back of a room full of the kind of chairs you’d find in a college lecture hall. She was already taking the written exam. She looked glum.

The clerk handed me a test sheet and I took a spot off to her left. I expected 10 questions. There were 36.

I was halfway through when Helaine got up and walked to the examiner. He actually looked like Nick Nolte on a good day, including a Hawaiian print shirt.

She smiled. 33 of 36 right. Pass!

I finished a few minutes later and apprehensively walked to the desk. “You must be Mr. Connecticut,” Nick said, with a smile on his face. He was the poster child for baby boomer Californians.

Number four, wrong. Number six, wrong. Number 11, wrong. Oh, crap! My test wasn’t halfway graded and I’d already missed three of the six allowed.

Nick continued looking. That was it. No more wrong answers. Like Helaine, I ended up 33 for 36!

I now have a jumble of papers which represent my temporary California license. My beautiful Connecticut 4CAST plates have been replaced by California standard #XXX### tags.

Obviously, I’ve gone beyond the designated time limit. I’d begun to worry I’d be stopped for failure to register. Now that problem is solved.

Today, we are Californians!