No Food or Drink

New York state law requires new residents to apply for a state driver’s license within 30 days and to register vehicles within 45 days of relocating. Today was an attempt to be compliant with that law.

It was already an eventful morning. I woke up feeling very anxious about going to the DMV. That’s uncalled for. Going to the DMV isn’t a fun activity, but the severity of my angst certainly wasn’t warranted.

We had to drive to a different city to get to the DMV. There are only three in our county, probably because requiring thousands and thousands of people to flock to one of three locations to obtain pretty important documentation to be able to drive and buy alcohol and pretty much exist was the most legal form of torture some bureaucrat could think of.

The DMV we chose was in a mall, next door to a frozen yogurt shop. Take a moment to let that sink in.

A mall. A dang shopping mall. With hun-cal froyo next door.

I walk into the DMV like it’s Dillard’s or something, morning coffee in hand. I look  around this giant room full of heavy wooden benches and sullen people and the brightest, most overwhelming purple walls.

Out of no where, a security guard confronts me. Because I feel I’m in some kind of foreign place, some kind of alternate reality where DMVs are in a place I’d go for a leisurely day, I am unsure that he’s speaking English.

Well, he was, and apparently coffee, and food or drink of all other varieties, are banned substances in the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Miss, you can either go back out into the hall to finish your drink, or you can put your drink in your purse.”

Yes. Let me put a coffee cup in my purse. That seems like a perfectly reasonable idea that most certainly would not end with hot coffee running down my lower extremities, ruining the 500 pieces of documentation I had to bring with me to prove I know how to drive and I am who I say I am. I decide I prefer putting my coffee mug in the car.

When I return, the line in the purple torture chamber has doubled in size. I help Mister find the form he needs to get a new license, and we stand, attempting to fill it out as quickly as possible. I’m uncaffeinated and hating every moment. Up walks the anti-coffee security guard again, this time to ask whether I’ve lost my license. He holds out the card he found. It clearly belongs to an Asian man in his 60s.

Um, no sir, that is clearly not my license. Clearly.

Offense taken.

Finally, it’s our turn to get our paperwork processed. I thank my lucky stars I had the foresight to bring an expired license from my previous state because apparently, a renewed license with an issue date of less than six months prior doesn’t count. Sorry that my birthday was two months ago, thus marking my license expiration. Never mind that I’ve been driving for 10 years. The clerk accepted the second version of my license, and then delivered the bad news: I can’t register my car in New York because I don’t have a title. I don’t have a title because I’m still paying a loan on it. Basically, if I jump through some hoops, I can do it, but I have two weeks to get a notarized copy of a title to my car before my 45 days are up.

After waiting on a hard, wooden bench for half an hour, watching commercial after commercial for the frozen yogurt next door — again, caffeineless — I look over and see a gentleman patron carrying a cup of coffee. Drinking out of said cup. And the guard doesn’t care.

Thankfully (for the people in the DMV), my paperwork is processed before I have a chance to mount my soapbox about the injustices of this place and the security guard. It’s my turn to get my new license. I pay my $65 dollars and enthusiastically reach out to accept my documentation.

It’s a piece of cardstock, devoid of a photo. I’ll get my license by mail in two weeks.

But first, coffee.