......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

24 October 2010

The DMV


A move always involves a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. For me, it's not a great concern; I'm happy to ride it out with my Minnesota license until it expires. Why waste good plastic? I'm cheap, lazy and I like the picture on my Minnesota license.....and that is a gift you don't throw away. Plus, it's motivation to drive carefully. Although, after moving to Chicago, I got out of several tickets by flashing my old license and cooing "I just moved here and we don't have traffic like this where I come from. I was told that slowing down for a yellow light could get me rear-ended so I should floor it until I see solid red."

I used a North Carolina driver's license in 3 different states until it finally got taken away in Wisconsin. And that represents a savings of several hours, perhaps days, of waiting in line at the DMV. But Mike is a rule follower and he's sweating like a fugitive right now......so callously driving in New Hampshire without identification that accurately portrays his residential status. He's a ticking time bomb. So I agree to take the day off with him and drive to the inconveniently located DMV and make it legal.

The DMV ladies greet us loudly when we cross the threshold and quickly ask if they can help us. We're startled.........as you are when you pick up an empty milk carton that you thought was full. We approach them with our files of gathered materials and they gently, kindly - with one hand on the panic button - explain to us that we don't have all the necessary material and that registering our cars and registering to vote takes place at the town clerk's office..........from whence we came..........15 miles behind us.

Mike was in charge of this task and has put on the illusion of "preparing" for it for quite some time. But it appears that the extent of his "preparation" was finding the address of the DMV. But I don't needle. He's beating himself up internally so I let it go.

We get back in the car, drive 15 miles to his office to get our passports, drive home to get an accepted form of proof of residency and then drive to the town clerk's office to register our cars and register to vote. The town clerk fills out form after form after form thinking that Mike's middle name (Nelson) and my last name (Nilsen) are the same name and one of us is spelling it wrong. Like maybe Mike took my last name as his middle name in a show of neo-feminism that just doesn't exist in our house. Although he tries, he really tries, but he's just not that evolved. So she spells each name the same on all the forms and then prints them out on a dot matrix printer from 1988..........and when I get my forms back I say "Excuse me, you spelled my name wrong. It's N-I-L-S-E-N." And then, unbeknownst to us, she goes and changes the spelling on BOTH sets of forms and reprints them all on the dot matrix printer from 1988. Then Mike gets his forms and says "Sorry, but it looks like you misspelled my name. It's N-E-L-S-O-N." And she goes back and changes all the forms again. And if we had been paying attention and not checking our facebook pages during each others' forms-roundup, we probably could have stopped the shenanigans before the ink ran out on the dot matrix. Poor Pat. Or Sheila. Or something like that. But we eventually do wake up and explain that these are actually two different names. And she can't believe it, what are the chances of sharing such a similar name????

Pretty good, actually. "We're from Minnesota," we say in unison. But she doesn't get it. But we leave the town clerk's office on good terms with Pat. Or Sheila. Or....I don't know, I can't remember. But she was a good sport.

Then on to the DMV again where we're greeted heartily again as we cross the threshold (but this time we're prepared). I fill out my form but I leave "haircolor" blank. Seriously, I have no idea what my real haircolor is. I know what it is TODAY but that has nothing to do with what it will be next month or next year. I'm honest with DMV girl. I say "I left this blank because, honestly, it changes all the time. It's generally in the blonde to brown range but sometimes it's both depending on what song is playing in the salon. And sometimes it's red. And recently I had a blue streak. "

She says, "Why don't you choose the one that makes you feel the best?" Which is really sweet for a DMV worker. Then she adds, "Today you look blonde." And before you can hear the "d" in blonde, I've filled in "blonde" so I can cling to my youth for another five years.

When it's time for the eye test, I struggle to make out the letters (numbers?) on line 5. There are twice as many characters as other lines and they seem to be overlapping each other. I stammer and pause and correct myself several times. DMV girl is concerned. I wait to see what she'll do. I try again. She asks for input from other DMV workers. After several failed attempts and a weighty silence in the room, I say "Fine, I'll put my glasses on." Collective sighs of relief and nervous laughter from all 3 DMV workers. DMV girl dryly says "Yeah, you need to wear those." I thought my eyes were getting better. I swear.

Finally, she makes us hand over our Minnesota licenses. Which is sad. Mostly because, like I said, mine has a really good picture on it. And because it was taken on my 40th birthday. And because it means we're not visiting this place anymore.

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