Mary Gets a License

Before I tell you all about the great time I had in South Dakota (I know, you wouldn’t think I’d have a great time in a place like South Dakota but I totally did), I knew I had to get something out of the way.

The DMV.

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The inevitability of writing about the DMV in a blog entitled, “The Low Point” is almost too grossly cliché. In fact, I was hoping I might be able to avoid something like that because the whole point of my starting a blog like this was to point out all the weird crap that happens to me. A bad experience at the DMV is not weird in any way; what would be weird would be if I’d left the first time happy and fully licensed.

Yeah, you heard me. The first time. And so, a timeline.

Day one

Decided to get a Utah license. Before you start judging me for that, I should share with you that it is entirely so that I might vote Democrat in this entirely Republican state that only has two votes in the electoral college, proving that, in fact, my vote really doesn’t matter. What can I say? I like a good, frustrating challenge. At any rate, voter registration was around the corner and in order to do so, I needed a license in the same state as my residence. And before you start judging me for the fact that I carried around an Oregon license for a couple years while living in Utah, seriously. Do you really blame me?

It didn’t occur to me that I would need to provide for the Utah Driver License Division all the paperwork I’ve received since birth to prove that I am who I say I am. It wasn’t enough that I had my Oregon DL and social security card; I needed to also bring my passport and my car registration and two bills that indicated people were sending things to the address I was claiming to live at. This discovery required me to return to our condo to collect a box’s worth of stuff.

Trip one

And so I went to the DMV, armed to the teeth with papers. When I finally got to the front of the line, I laid it all out for the unhappy woman at the information desk and expected, for all intents and purposes, to get a little piece of paper with a number in the hundreds on it so I could sit down and get a license.


What actually happened was that she reminded me of the denial of driving privileges that took place back in 2004 that required — in essence — a note from the doctor saying I was okay to drive.

Forget that I’m okay to drive in the state of Oregon. Forget that this medical disorder is not really a disorder at all but a one time instance in which my body kind of failed me (oh that’s a new experience for me — false again. My body has been failing me since I was a baby.) Forget that any other state in the entire nation would license me, no problem. Utah is different.

I mean, tell me about it.

So I collected all the papers and headed out the door.

Day two

Dropped the medical form off at the doctor’s office, expecting to get a signature, oh, I don’t know, right then. Instead I was met with the warning from the receptionist that he probably wouldn’t sign it since he hasn’t seen me for more than a year. If anything, this should give him ample reason to sign it post haste. If I don’t have to see him, I don’t have anything wrong going on. I left, deflated, knowing the earliest I’d be able to see him would be at least three weeks out because that’s just how specialists are.

Luckily, the upside was that he signed it within an hour or two of my dropping it off and they faxed it right on over. The first glimmer of hope and success. I shouldn’t have paid any attention to it, I’ll tell you that right now.

Day three

By now I was starting to take things kind of personally, and it was really hard to shake the feeling that maybe — just maybe — the state of Utah really didn’t want another Democrat. You can call it paranoia or stupidity, but in my mind, that’s a totally plausible thing.

This was becoming a conquest.

Trip two

I should have given up at this point, most likely, but I had to overcome. And so I returned, armed to the teeth again with all the paperwork. I walked straight up to the information desk (because I arrived at apparently what is the best time to try and get a license during the week), and I was ready.

Trip three

Readiness doth not equal success. Hope was gone. Because what occurred during trip two was an unhappy man telling me the form had, in fact, been faxed over but was then promptly thrown away or shredded or, basically, unused because, social security number, maiden name, and blood, sweat, and tears notwithstanding, they really needed my Utah driver license number.

[An aside: yes, I have been through all this before in the state of Utah, but I let things like medical forms go because why on EARTH would I get another Utah license? I’d never live here by any means.]

So I had to drive to the doctor’s office, I had to procure the form, I had to drive back to the license office, and then It happened. I got the little piece of paper with a number on it. I got to sit down. I got to watch all manner of people walk by me (including a man who was so morbidly obese, more than a foot of his stomach — covered by a holey undershirt, thank goodness — was hanging below the bottom hem of his t-shirt. God bless America).

The other sketchy part of the obtainment of a Utah driver license, mass paperwork aside, was that I could do so merely by taking an open book test.

You heard me. Open book.

In the end, I actually missed four questions because there comes a point when a person is so fed up with the driver license division that she throws a little caution into the air and makes up answers when it comes to being inebriated on a boat or the point system as it applies to a minor. But then — THEN — I got a temporary license.

It seriously happened. Like, they didn’t find reason to not give me one, which means only one thing: I defeated the monster.

Done did it.


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