Thursday, July 14, 2005

Getting Back to the Business of Being Legal

I think I mentioned in an earlier posting that we have lived in California a little over three years, but I'm still driving with a Wisconsin license. In four days that license expires and that upcoming expiration led me to studying the California DMV handbook as though my life depended upon it. And in a way it did. If I didn't pass the first time, I could take it again in a week's time. Of course, in a week's time, my Wisconsin license would have expired and then it wouldn't be a simple matter of taking a written test, but also a driving test. I know I can drive and I know I drive pretty well, but the idea of taking a written AND a behind-the-wheel test makes me feel wobbly. So, I have been studying and last night when Himself innocently asked me if I was blogging (as opposed to watching the latest stage in the Tour de France with him), I screamed "NO I'M STUDYING COS IF I FAIL MY DRIVING TEST..." I could see him shutting down and focusing on the Tour as I worked myself into an iknowi'mgoingtoflunklather. He said calmly, "You'll do fine." And that was the end of it for him. I studied a bit more before going to bed dreaming of unlikely questions that could be thrown at me.

California law states that all new residents must apply for and take the test for a California driving license within 10 days of moving to the state. WHAT??? Oh right, we've just moved 2,000 miles and I can't even find the flippin' way home half the time but I also have to find the DMV...within 10 days? So, since I didn't take care of it within the first ten days, I figured what's the rush. I've already screwed up.

Yesterday dawned stinking hot and I woke up still dreaming of ways I could fail. My appointment was for 2:30 and I left early enough to take into account traffic jams, toxic spills and police sobriety checkpoints. It must be understood that I have never been in the vicinity of a toxic spill or a police sobriety checkpoint, but I reckoned I'd just been lucky so far.

A very jolly woman greeted me at the DMV and DIDN'T even ask me how long I'd lived in California. I was immediately suspicious, but tried to act all happy to be there and filled out the form. I was given an expedited number (since I'd made an appointment) and took my seat. The DMV air conditioning couldn't keep up with the crush of people and the outside ambient air temp of ONE HUNDRED DEGREES. My number was called and I walked up to the counter, fully prepared to be sent directly to jail for being an illegal driver for three plus years. I was never asked how long I'd lived was more just a "Welcome to California" schtick. I passed the vision test (whew) and then joined another queue, this time to get my picture taken. My hair was collapsing on me and looking damper and thinner as each minute passed. I pushed my reading glasses up, using them like a headband and fanned myself with the test book. Called to the counter, I was thumb-printed and then the pic was taken. SURPRISE of SURPRISES, it was a pretty good pic. But then it was noticed that I had glasses on top of my head and I was called back for a retake. Of course, the picture I now have is of a sweaty looking menopausal woman with hair flattened and flopped. I'm then sent off with my 36 questions sheet, multiple choice.

Passing Grade: Six or fewer errors for original applicants, three or fewer errors for renewal applicants.

First Question: "It is illegal for a person 21 years of age or older to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is _______ or higher.
0.10%. One tenth of one percent
0.08%. Eight hundredths of one percent
0.05%. Five hundredths of one percent."
I am such a dim bulb that when I first read the question, I read it as it is illegal for a person 21 years or age or younger...I found that mistake.

Here's another question.
"Which of the following children requires a child passenger restraint system?
A six-year old weighing 60 pounds.
A five-year old weighing 55 pounds.
A five-year old weighing 65 pounds."
The only reason I got this one right is because I have a granddaughter and I was curious as to when she could just use a seatbelt...not for a while is the answer. She is almost four years old and weighs just over 30 pounds.

After 36 of these, I certified that under penalty of perjury I personally answered these questions and then it was over. It was sort of surreal. The really nice chatty woman grabbed my test, checked it, circled a one (one error) then handed to another gal who handed me my temp license (finalized version with very bad pic to arrive in two to three weeks) and, well, Now I'm Legal!!!! Whoopie!


Blogger Ova Girl said...

Yay Lin!! What a relief. I am exactly the same, I hate any kind of government testing, I would have been just as paranoid and guilty and certain I was about to be arrested. I am a basket case when we go to get our tax done.

I bet you feel absolutely fantastic and light hearted now like you're on top of the world! Happy driving!

4:13 PM  

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