Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frustrations and Successes

Today I tried to obtain a Washington State driver's license in exchange for my New York State one -- and failed. I went downtown to the Department of Motor Vehicles and had no trouble proving identity (passport). However, I could not prove residence to the DMV's satisfaction. I offered them an apartment lease bearing my name, a renters' insurance policy, a royalty statement from my agent with my new address, and a work order from the local cable company for an Internet connection. Nothing worked. The lease and insurance policy were "not acceptable documents;" the royalty statement was "not a standard W-2 form;" the Comcast work order was only for an upgrade, and only an original work order would do. Or a utility bill in my name, which I did not have. This was all due to "security regulations." Apparently any old terrorist can rent and insure an apartment or publish fiction, but only someone safe has utilities.

Or something like that.

So I will get a utility bill in my name and try again. meanwhile, my lovely sister Kate, an actress in New York, appeared last night on the Bravo reality show "9 By Design." A couple (real) is interviewing nannies (real) and Kate poses as an airhead New Age candidate (scripted). Catch a clip of her performance at http://www.bravotv.com/9-by-design/videos/well-be-in-touch. She's the nanny candidate in the purple shirt.

Someone should do a reality show about the DMV.

9 comments:

TheOFloinn said...

There is no connection between the DMV and reality. (Though I must admit the PennDOT DMV is well run. Basheer and Sara had no problem getting PA driver licenses when they came back from Jordan.) New Jersey was best described as surreal.

The nature of a bureaucrat is to follow procedure. No bureaucrat ever got in trouble for following procedure. If the procedure lists such-and-such, then only such-and-such will be accepted as proof of residence. When questioned, they used to say, "That's the procedure." Now they say, "National security." But the idea is the same: "Shut up."

halojones-fan said...

The DMV was my first example of an actual Catch-22.

To be legal, you're supposed to register your car within one month of moving into the state. However, to register your car in the state, you need a valid in-state driver's license. To get the driver's license, you must have a utility bill, which you cannot get until you've been in the state for more than a month. So it is literally impossible to legally register your car!

******

Side note: A friend gave me a copy of "Beggars And Choosers", and -- damn. The whole "Livers vs Donkeys" thing is extremely prescient!

韋志 said...

very popular to u! ........................................

Mary Robinette Kowal said...

How annoying!

On the other hand, your sister is hilarious!

emilner said...

In 2002 (just 6 months post 9/11--NY was still reeling) I moved from Seattle to Rochester, NY. I headed down to the DMV to exchange my Washington state driver's license for a NY license. I had everything. I had a utility bill, I had a passport, I had my current DL, I had credit cards. There was a line of people waiting to enter the DMV office on Henrietta Ave. A man was checking documents before you could go through the door. He was turning away at least half of the people because they didn't have the right documents. I presented my documents. He checked through them and said everything looks good, I just need to see your social security card. I said I know my number. He said, I don't care what your number is, I need to see your original social security card. I got my social security number in 1964. I have no idea where my original social security card is. But I know my number. He said, I don't care about your number. Go down to the social security office and request a new card. Also request a letter stating that you have requested a new social security card. Then come back here and you can get your driver's license. I went downtown to the social security admin office and stood in line there with everybody who was trying to get their monthly checks. When it was my turn I explained the problem and asked for a new card and the letter. The lady looked at me bit askance, They want a letter? This was obviously not a common occurrence. She handed me an application. Fill this out and then come back. I'll see about the letter. I filled out the application and stood in line to give it back. I asked about the letter. She said wait. After waiting for more than an hour, a letter was produced, and thus armed, I headed back across town to the DMV. Again I waited in line to have my documents checked. This time the man said everything was in order. I got to enter the building and wait until my number was called, which, in about an hour, it was. The lady behind the window demanded my papers. I handed them over, saying that they had been approved. She scrutinized them herself. After what seemed to me to be a bit too long, she said just a minute I have to check with my supervisor, and walked off with my papers. Shortly, a supervisor woman came out and said, I'm sorry, this letter from the social security administration isn't good enough. It doesn't state specifically that you are applying for a replacement social security card. It looks to me like you are applying for a new social security card. I said I was applying for a replacement card, that I had received my original card in 1964 and didn't know where it was now. But I knew my number. She didn't care about my number, either. She said, sorry. You can't get a driver's license unless you have an original social security card or a letter stating that you have a number and are applying for a replacement card. This letter doesn't say you are applying for a replacement card. It doesn't use the word replacement.

Three years later my Washington state license was about to expire. I went back to the DMV. I had all the documents. I had my passport, my WA DL, my utility bill, my new social security card (printed on copy & forgery resistant blue-green paper with little swirly lines in it--I wonder if they would have even accepted my 1964 card printed on plain white card stock, which, ironically, I actually found recently among some papers in my parents home). I watched smugly as half the people were turned away (I guess the NY DMV was still reeling). But I wasn't turned away, my documents were approved, and a NY DL was finally issued.

liebja said...

Thanks for the link - your sister was awesome! Unfortunately, you gave it away when you said she was the one in purple - I would have liked the opportunity to guess. But she really stood out (could have been the clip editing, but still...)
Alicia

Nancy Kress said...

emilner-- You win. And you're right -- getting a NYS license -- or, in fact, a NYS anything -- is always worse. Always.

Nancy Kress said...

Eric? Is that you?

emilner said...

It is. I hope you don't mind.
emilner@selwayriver.net