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Out With The Old, In With The New

April 12, 2013

IMG_2035Week 26 – The baby is 14.5 inches long, weighing just under 2lbs. He is the length of an English cucumber from tip to toe. Eric and I attend our first birthing/parenting class at the hospital I’ll be delivering at. There are about 7 other couples in the class, most also due in the June/July timeframe. The class covers female anatomy, terminology, body changes during pregnancy and delivery, relaxation and breathing techniques, and a birthing video. The only new thing I learn is that “water breaking” refers to the puncturing of the amniotic sack and draining the amniotic fluid. Apparently, only 10% of women experience the water break before delivery (unlike what Hollywood movies may make us believe).

After six months in our new home state, it was time to embrace our new identity as Texans.

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Getting a Texas driver’s license was so ridiculous that it quickly turned comical. It entailed drinking snake venom, swearing with blood and pulling three hairs from a werewolf. Well, almost… It took four visits to the DMV, three hair styling and makeup applications, two major highways, one car inspection, a pile of money, and half a tank of gas.

I recall my Washington experience and even though I then had to retake all the tests (written and road) it seemed a walk in the park compared to Texas. Texans obviously take their licensing incredibly seriously, or they purposely set a sky high bar for out-of-state transfers to keep those darn Yankees and West Coasters out. Little did they know that I roll with an iron fist, so sit up close and listen to the tale of a fair maiden who conquered the DMV.

The first time I drove to the DMV, a friendly lady at the information desk asked if I had two pieces of id on me.

Me: Well, yes I do – my WA drivers license and green card.

Her: Ok, how about two documents with your new address listed, like bills, bank statements, an insurance card?

Me: Oh, not yet. We just moved here so we have not received any bills at the new address.

I was turned away with the application form that I could fill it out ahead of time before my next visit. (That was mostly my fault as I should have remembered that you need proof of address). A week later, with my hair styled and face dolled up, I showed up at the information desk again with the form carefully filled out.

Me: Hi, I am here to get a Texas license.

Her: Do you have two pieces of id?

Me: Of course. (Been down that road already).

Her: How about your social security card?

Me: You mean the number?

Her: No, the actual card is required.

Me: But I was here a week ago and I was told to bring address proof which I have right here.

Her: You need those as well, but you must present your social security card.

Me: Sigh. I’ll be back.

Two hours later (remember, everything is big and spaced out in TX) I was back with my social security card, confident I had all my papers this time. I even rechecked the instructions list before leaving the house.

Me: Hi, I am back. I’ve got all the docs you asked. I would also need to register my vehicle.

Her: I am sorry, but I will have to send you away again.

Me: Why?

Her: We don’t register vehicles at this location. You will need to go to the Airport Blvd (the opposite part of town).

Me: Ok. I’ll do that after I get my license.

Her: You can’t get your license until you have your vehicles registered first.

Her <upon seeing my expression>: State law. I can get the trooper to talk to you.

Me: Listen lady, this is my third time here, and I was just talking to you and you told me I just need Social Security card, which I got now. I would have loved to get the full story right from the start.

Her: Ma’am there is no reason to raise your voice. I can get the state trooper to explain the process for you.

At this point the trooper came over. I am sure he really just wanted to say that he was taking a lunch break to the information lady I was conversing with. The lady quickly explained to him that I was upset because I’d been here a few times and was not properly informed about the process. Like a magician at a cheap Las Vegas casino, he pulled a little card out of his pocket with step-by-instructions for an out-of-state license transfer. I took the card and this is when my form was stamped with “special ticket”– supposedly as a favor to skip the line on my fourth trip (more likely as a warning to other staff: handle with care).

The car registration, on the other side of town, was otherwise quick and comparatively painless. I did, however, had to get my car inspected prior to getting the new license plates approved. Because it was an out-of-state transfer, in addition to the regular annual registration fee they charged me a transfer fee of $100.

The next day, I was back at DMV information desk.

Me: Hi, I am here to get my Texas license and here is my form and all the supporting documents.

Her: Ok, you don’t need all these papers, your vehicle registration and proof of insurance are sufficient.

Me: <sigh, eye roll> I was told I can skip the line because I have “SPECIAL” stamp on my application form.

Her: Yes, you will be next. Please take a seat.

5 minutes later, I surrendered my WA License. (WA DMV let me keep my Ontario license. They simply punched a hole through it.)

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A black and white temporary license printout was handed over. Two weeks later I received my new license in the mail. After all the leg work, Eric was well prepared for his trip and the process took him less than an hour.

[Jane Asks]: What is your most ridiculous experience with a government organization?

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