Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A trip to the DMV

Yesterday I took my friend to the DMV to get her cycle license renewed. Foriegners only get a one year license and the license tends to be about double what nationals pay for a 5 yr. license. But that's how it is done and why not. My friend is a single woman and a lot of times she gets the run around from men in offices. I get it too but it tends to be to a lesser extent because I normally have Jonathan in tow- he's the guy with the job. They like to strut their stuff and show what they know. Power is sexy and they have power. She's gotten use to this song and dance for the most part and in the end the job gets done.

She proceeded up to the window with her file folder of copies and pictures and signatures to get the renewal. I sat in the waiting chairs. And as expected without fail the song began "Foreigners can't have a cycle license. Only one month. Only issued in tourist city. You must have forged this. You must have bribed someone." The refrain being from all 6 officers that came to the window "foriegners can't have a cycle license". Well that just can't be true because she's been getting a cycle license every year for like 9 years. Anyway they decide to start the process, nevermind the fact that they insist she can't, and they send her around to the health clinic. Now the health clinic is a new step and mostly its a color blindness test and a blood pressure check. No problem. She takes the papers back to the window hoping they've changed their minds and decided to be cooperative. But of course they haven't and insist she needs to take a written and practical driving test. Nevermind the whole time still saying foriegners can't have a license. So as the written test comes up I'm sitting in the back of the room thinking I really need to know what is on this test. My friend has excellent language skills and so she is unphased by the language but a little concerned as to what exactly this test is going to cover because this is the first we've heard of driving rules existing here. Traffic is manic at best. So she tries her best on a really confusing computerized test where the questions aren't clear as to which of the 3 cycles driving you are supposed to be judging. She gets a 60%. Sadly she needs a 70% to pass. They usher her to another room and explain a few times that she isn't allowed to take the test again for another 2 weeks. And she's accepting of this. Then they have her go back in and take the test again. Again telling her the whole time that she isn't allowed to take the test for 2 weeks but they insist she take it again. She passes with a 90% this time and the proctor explains some of the rules of the road to her after which she found very insightful. Then 12 more officers come in and explain that foreigners can't have cycle licenses and she isn't allowed to retest and now we want you to take the practical driving exam. Again she hasn't asked for special treatment. But she proceeds to the driving range. And again 12 officers encircle the driving area and begin taking pictures of her with their mobile phones during the driving exam. She knows she didn't get everything 100% on the driving portion but it sounds like she did a fair job of meeting their expectations.

In the end she gets her new cycle license but she finds out that the reason they insisted on the exams was that instead of a renewal, they processed her for a new license entirely because they couldn't believe that she had gotten a real license before. She also got the new license for a more reasonable price. No idea why that happened but thankful it did. She did pay for it quite heavily in her pride. Jonathan and I were thankful that she took one for us. Now we know what could be coming in May when we renew ours. It'll be curious though because Jonathan will be with me and I'll probably bring @. It could be that the one Y chromosome is better than 4 X's.
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