Thursday, May 12, 2005

licensing

Went in today to finally get my license renewed. The traffic office, DMV, only gives foreigners a 3 month license unless we take the driving test here. I realized at 8:00 this morning that I really should get on doing that. The other day on my way back from spending 45 minutes paying my traffic ticket that the guy who pulled me over the other day was out pulling over more people. I could just see him pulling me over again and the thought of spending more time at the traffic office was just a little nauseating. So off I went to the DMV. I filled out the forms in advance, brought a copy of our US license, passports, extra photos, revenue stamp and a wallet full of money. Last time we went it took us about an hour to get through and we actually didn’t finish the process. The grand finale of the process is to have the stamps and signature of the licensing officer. When we first got our license we went to do the grand finale but the office we were sent to was already locked up- presumably for lunch at 10:45. So I went in ready to take a while today. First went into #29 (more windows) which is where we started last time. She sent me to #25, a guy sitting under a “ No Smoking” sign chain smoking. He sent me directly to #1 in another building. The door was closed so I knocked and stuck my head in. They asked to see my US license and they made a scribble on the applications. Off to #29 again. She said go pay #19. I knew that #19 was the critical line- where you pay. Its always the longest line because any kind of payment for any service, licensing, titling, registering, anything, has to go through 19. I took my seat at the end of a weaving line of about 35 people. What is nice is that the custom is to provide a seat for anything. No one comes to your desk for even the simplest 1 minute matter without being offered a seat. So I scooted my way along the line for 30 minutes, which is honestly a fast moving line. Paid and then was sent to #27. No one was at #27, so I stood in line for #29 for about 20 minutes. Only 5 people in line with me but the problem was that the lady went to go talk to a friend and the man seemed to be having a hard time figuring out how to alphabetize. Finally Mr. #29 invited me down to window #23 to write out a temporary license. He updated Jonathan’s and wrote a new one for me. He then sent me #25, who had left his desk. I was starting to wonder if he had gone for a smoke break, which would crack me up and then he arrived. With cig in one hand, he stamped 4 different places on this 3 x3 card and drew a squiggle that I think was his signature. After close to 90 minutes I finished getting the licenses renewed.

Now next Wednesday it sounds like I need to go wait in line to get the truck inspected. My friend took her car in yesterday. It took her 3 hours of waiting in line for a 5 minute inspection. I’m bringing a book. This is the kind of tedium that drives people to drink. I wonder how much of a problem they would have with drinking and driving under these circumstances…
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