written 2000-12-29 00:32:39

Here's a miniature version of the written test for all you potential

The safest way to operate a motor vehicle is:

A) at 110 mph.
B) with both hands on the wheel.
C) while steering with your left knee.
D) while writing a journal entry on a palm pilot.

If you guessed 'B', you didn't send this email. If you think that is
stupid, wait until I tell you why I was taking a driving test in the
first place...

As I said before, I'm speeding across the country on I-40 East.  Sooner
or later, myself and my car are going to end up in Philadelphia, and
while The City of Brotherly Love may welcome me with open arms, her law
enforcement personnel are going to want to know why my tags expired
nine months ago.

I've been driving around with Pennsylvania plates since I got the car
in April of 1999. I haven't actually lived in PA since...oh, say...high
school. The Tustin police force was starting to get real nosy about my
lack of California tags, but I don't fear them like I fear
Pennsylvanian State Troopers. With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I
figured I had better get moving on getting legal plates if I was to
drive across the country in December.

Off I went to the Santa Ana DMV. I explained my plight to the lady at
the information desk, and she pushed two forms across the counter. "Get
your California driver's license first, then stand in that line over
there to register your vehicle."

Aha. Simple. What a relief.

So I sat myself down in the driver licensing line and filled out my
paperwork amidst the chatter of Spanish all around. Name, address,
social security, current license number...wait in line, get picture
taken, pay my twelve dollars. Next step, take the written test.
Apparently it's mandatory, so I settle in to get it done.

Let me tell you, I have a new found respect for Californian drivers. I
passed...barely. That test was HARD. But, after sweating out whether it
was more dangerous to drive while wearing headphones during the day or
sunglasses during the night, I turned in my test for processing.  All
that remained was to hand over my current license.

...naturally, my current license had vanished in the last 15 minutes.

Seriously. The damned thing just vaporized sometime between filling in
the paperwork and taking the test, and its loss made a process that was
going swimmingly grind to a complete halt. I scoured the hallways,
retraced my steps. Gone, gone, gone.

I didn't know what to say, and the DMV monkeys didn't know what to do.
After some deliberation, the old chinese guy behind the counter decided
that it would be best for me to get a new license from Pennsylvania,
and then immediately surrender it for the Californian version. Oh,
sure. As an alternative, he pressed a sheet of information about taking
the driving test into my hand...technically, he explained, I had just
earned a California learner's permit, so that was always an option.

I had visions of a fat, armed peace officer in my passenger seat,
screwing with the air conditioner and making sure I come to a complete
and noticable stop while he picks his nose and wipes it under my seat.

That settled that. After driving home illegally with my learner's
permit, I got on the horn with the PA Department of Transportation. The
lady I talked with at PENNDOT was calm enough about my woes; she could
happily provide me with proof of licensure, once I sent back a form
they could fax to me.

Faxing this initial form would take, of course, three to five business
days. Very efficient.

At any rate, after spending more time at the DMV with Mexicans and
freaks than I had at my apartment (uh...with Mexicans and freaks), I
managed to wrestle the sinister beast of bueracracy to the ground,
slither out of her red tape tentacles, and claim a license and
registration as a prize. Amen.

The moral of the story seems to be this: if it's a challenge to do,
it's not worth doing. Get a bus schedule.

Anyhow, I hope everyone's having a merry Christmas, happy Chanukah,
groovy Kwanzaa, and a bitchin' Boxing Day. Or whatever.

Even though I'm land-bound, here is some more Airline Ettiquette to
keep the spirit of travel. Hey, why not? It's been awhile...

- If you want to see what it's like to live well, open up that SkyMall
catalog in the seat back in front of you, and peruse all the wonderful
toys they sell, like kitchen utilities, nosehair removal systems, and
collectable coins from the Franklin Mint. Rich people own at least one
of every item in this catalog. If you aren't an avid SkyMall shopper,
you will never be invited to a party at the Playboy mansion.

- 38 hours of driving, straight, will alleviate any fear you've ever
had about flying. Trust me on this one.


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