Monday, February 3, 2014

Look! A Gringo at the DMV (try not to stare, niños)

From joeh comment on last post, it sounds like NJ has much saner DMV than CA
The light made the screen on phone unreadable, so I kept pushing the virtual imaginary button which has doubts concerning the humanity of my finger, therefore it only reacts in moments of weakness, like when the phone is pointed somewhere other than the place I want to photograph.  This is outside DMV in El Centro--just a stones throw, or a burro's trot, from Mejico.  

When I first went through the process to get  California driver's license, someone typed in the wrong month of birth.  They make you wait for the license.  It is mailed to you at their leisure.  I don't recall that being the case in any of the other states where I have had a driver's license.  
So, when I finally got my certificate of Privilege to drive, the birthdate listed made me almost a half year younger.  I left it that way. 
It wasn't my mistake, besides what real business is it of this state when I was born?  And in the words of the supposed president-elect, "At this point, what difference does it make?" (screech, grimace, pound table)
The best picture was the last one in NC in the mid '90s.  But that was long ago.  
We were all beautiful back then, but didn't know it.  Maybe we are beautiful now, too, and are still too dense to know it.

Not relevant to story but a nice picture with significance if you were there, or if you are me.  If not, ignore or create your own version of the meaning of life
Speaking of beautiful, this is a holy spot, hallowed ground near the home of my youth.  At least to me, and maybe to that little tiny pup.  That tree knows that there was a time when I was considered OK, and not to be reviled.  Good to know.  If I knew then what I know now...I'm drawing a blank.  I keep wondering what I'd do now if I knew now what I am supposed to know.  I don't want to look back to now thinking, "if only I'd known then...".  Screw that.

So, I already knew that California DMV is notoriously crowded, slow, tedious, and incompetent.  That, and the alleged real time, wait-time info online prompted me to drive 70 miles to El Centro, rather than 25 miles to El Cajon---right there close to the vile El Cajon headquarters of the Highway Patrol.  

I'll take my chances with Mexican drug lords in El Centro rather than deal with El Cajon Highway Patrol--at least I know I'll be dealing with a more decent class of person. 
I'd heard it is quicker in El Centro.  That is way out east, middle of nowhere, kind of in the desert.  The place was packed.  It was exactly like places I remember seeing as a kid in Guatemala City, and other 3rd world Latin American places.  It was one of the stark differences back then; people in the 3rd world had to sit around, wait hours in line for bureaucratic nonsense.  For everything really.  

Americans thought they were lucky because it was not like that here.  "Oh, it'll never be like that in the States!!  all that waiting in line, subject to the whims of government bureaucrats...not in America, by Godtt!!"  Oh yea?

Yippee.  We have become so happily multi-cultural that we now do our DMV just like they used to do everything in those countries.  We even brought them over here so it would look the same.  I always liked the people, but they smiled at me more when I was 7 years old than they do now.

I was the only gringo in the place.  Must have been a hundred people.
I'm thinking the pretty lady treated me special so no one could accuse her of racism or profiling.  Plus I had my ducks in a row, and did my best to appear pleasant and nice.  She did not abuse the obvious minority guy.
There was a glitch in the mysterious computer file on me which made it appear that I'd have to take a test.  That probably wouldn't be too big a problem except it would mean going to the back of another line, filling out more forms and maybe not getting done within the two hours before the place closed.  

Plus, if the test involved road things I'd be OK, but I remember on some driving tests it was all about various penalties for various alcohol related infractions.  I don't know specific penalties.  I don't do things of that nature.  They fry you if you drink and drive, and if you text and drive.  Not smart to do either one anyway.  Oh well.
I don't know how I got through so quick, as it was.  I think the first lady expedited things and gave me a quicker number--F-033.  And then the other one, the pretty one I just mentioned, looked at this and that, took in my lost puppy look when the test was mentioned, scribbled a bunch of stuff on what must have been my Permanent Record, and said forget the test.

So now I have a piece of paper for a license and hope the real deal shows in the mail.  Except I still have the old one with the bogus birthday which, on its face, is good until May.  It is so rare that I have ever lived in one place long enough for license renewal, I can't recall the last time.  
All I recall is getting a new license in a new state.  I would have kept car and license registered Tennessee had not the car got totaled.  It seemed the thing to be CA officially in the aftermath and during the insurance battles.  
Maybe I was wrong about that.

If you have credentials from a freer state, it pays to keep them if you can swing it.  

Thirty three dollars to renew a driver's license?  We aren't talking commercial or any of that.  Luckily I had more cash on me than I usually carry.  I thought maybe twelve or fifteen.  
And the picture is going to be really odd this time.  I think I had an expression which looked a lot like a Rodney Dangerfield impersonation.  His surprised victim expression.

Looking around the place, it did spook me.  All these people, many with little children, forced to sit in a hot crowded room in order to satisfy the state's need to control.  
I honestly do not care if they have licenses.  They probably can't drive worth a damn anyway.  So what.  Just like now, if you can't cover financially, and do not have insurance, then they ought to deport you or throw you out of the mainstream of people.  
In CA the DMV does nothing to improve the odds of responsible people behind the wheel.  So why bother?
Oh yea.  "Driving is a privilege"... said in my most serious authoritarian Dad voice. 
(a privilege granted whether or not you will do harm or be safe.  Unsafe people think it is ok if they drive as long as the state says it is OK.  Another case where the State substitutes for God and conscience.)

They told me I'd outgrow my semi-anarchist leanings.  Once again, They were wrong.  I'd be OK with dropping the requirement for driver's licenses.  But I'd also be OK with shooting up the cars of little punks who hop in cars and make trouble for others.  

I drove around South Miami at night when I was 12, in an MGA hardtop, sitting on 2 Miami phone books, with lots of friends packed in there.  You can fit a lot of little kids into a car.  We were polite and safe.  Of course we thought we were being anonymous and no one would know.  They never did, either.  So age is not a problem.  Behavior and competence.

Anyway, it worked out, but the scene, which I should have photographed, looked exactly like the scenes from poor countries with authoritarian inefficient, maddening dogmatic bureaucracies.   I did not take a photo because I already stood out like a priest in a whorehouse, and I did not want to disturb the peace.  
But if I had taken a photo and told you it was the holding tank for people awaiting their fate in a Cuban court for being critics of the Revolution or dissidents, no one would doubt it.  
The setup makes everyone look like a convict begging for a reprieve. 

Then I went here to contemplate my future, and songs of the heart.
.So cool.  We got a little rain!!!  That is a big deal in this part of the world.  Crazy.
That's because they are constantly worrying about fire, and low water supply, and doing very little that makes sense to mitigate either problem.  Most anything that could or would be done is illegal or meets with unreasonable and unsound activism of one sort or other.  When statists, collectivists and Luddites join forces, nothing is possible except the painfully bizarre.



  1. Some how, some way, Texas managed to get SOMETHING right: If it's your renewal time and you haven't had a ticket, you can renew online. Trouble it, you keep the same photo as before. After a while people lose teeth and hair and continence and can only manuever with a walker, yet their drivers license photo shows them still looking like Brad Pitt. Think they're just fishing for a gratuity?

  2. Verbi here is wondering why you don't just renew by mail?

    1. Because they never sent the mail thing. They had my birth date wrong but not on all their records, and because they had some mix up which at first required test. Only way this one was going to be resolved was to go in person.


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