Frumpy Mom: I went to the DMV and lived to tell the tale


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Dec 18, 2023

Frumpy Mom: I went to the DMV and lived to tell the tale

I recently did something that makes everyone cringe: I went to the DMV. Now, if

I recently did something that makes everyone cringe: I went to the DMV.

Now, if you’re like me, this is probably something you avoid like politicians avoid voting on gun control. And why not?

There's nothing even slightly appealing about going into a gray government office with florescent lights, sitting on hard plastic chairs for longer than it took to form the Grand Canyon and watching the overhead screen, waiting for your turn to go hand over paperwork that turns out to not be the paperwork they actually wanted.

You left that paperwork at home, so you have to come back and do it all over again.

But I spent my time in the chairs thinking up ways they could make this experience better because that's the kind of public-spirited citizen I am.

For example, they could hand out random door prizes. "Hey, the holder of the A07 ticket, come on up to Window 18 and get your brand-new microwave oven!"

That would make sitting and waiting much more interesting.

I also remembered standing in line to check in at a swanky hotel, where I was feeling frustrated until a waiter came up and started pouring everyone free flutes of champagne. This happened once at the Mission Inn in Riverside, and I never forgot it.

That could definitely improve the entire DMV experience, don't you think?

As long as you don't have a police checkpoint outside the parking lot, waiting to breathalyze you afterward.

Anyway, what was amazing about this experience was that I interacted with three different DMV employees during my visit and – get ready to be amazed – they were all nice and helpful. Yes, strange but true.

I don't know what has happened since the last time I visited, but there seems to have been a major attitude adjustment. Maybe they were the ones getting the champagne in the break room.

Anyway, it was not an altogether unpleasant experience. I had an appointment to renew my driver's license, which, naturally, was a week after my license actually expired.

It had been so long since I had to go in to renew my license that I forgot what it was like. People told me that I would have to take the driver's written test all over again.

Now, I don't know about you, but it's been 51 years since I took a written driving test, so I panicked and spent 90 minutes in my car before my appointment trying to memorize the entire driver handbook, which I guarantee will give you a migraine even if driving around trying to find a place to park hadn't already done that.

But there were so many questions like, "How many feet ahead do you have to stop if you’re trying to avoid driving off the pier?"

Answer: All of them.

Anyway, I quickly realized there was no way I could keep all the 100 feet and 30 feet and speed limits and red lights and flashing lights and car lengths and turning rules and school zones and crosswalks and passing lanes in my head long enough to take a test.

Question: How many passengers in your car have to wear seat belts?

Answer: Only the ones you want to keep alive.

So naturally, when I went in for my appointment, I crept up to my appointed window with my knees knocking and waited for the pleasant lady to tell me to go take my test.

But she never did. I didn't have to take a test. That's 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

I did have to take an eye test, which I imagine is the reason they made me come into the office, now that I’m old as dirt.

Thankfully, I passed it, though I did have to guess at a couple of letters. Might be time for some new glasses.

I also asked about getting disabled license plates, since I already have a blue placard. She gave me a long form to fill out and then sent me to another window when I was done.

The lady there, who wasn't as nice, asked me where my existing plates were.

"Um, on my car?" I told her.

"Well, go get them and bring them here, because you need to turn them in before I can give you the new plates," she told me.

I thought to myself, "You are looking at me with my walking cane, clearly old as dirt, and thinking I can crouch down and remove the rusty bolts holding both of my plates onto my 2001 Toyota Corolla, without any tools?"

But I just told her I’d have to come back. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Hey! Want to meet me? I’ll be plunked down in my lawn chair behind the Ruth Bach Public Library in Long Beach from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sat. June 24. This is by Heartwell Park, 4055 N. Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach. Come and say hi, get your book signed or buy a book. Nasty weather cancels. See you there!

You can email me at [email protected]. I love hearing from readers, especially when you tell me how much you hate my column.

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