Today I had my very first tangle with the evil overlord that is the Montana DMV. Yes, I am officially attempting to become a Montana resident which, for those of you who have listened to me rant about this place for last three years, may come as a bit of a surprise. It’s true I’ve used very strong words regarding Montana, and Bozeman specifically, but when you go to buy a nice box of wine and get turned down because your Colorado ID is expired, there’s only so much you can do. I figure I kinda love it here right now, so it can’t be that bad.
Thus: My quest to become a Montana uh… an. Montanananan.
It began with the best of intentions. I made an online appointment, gathered all my necessary paperwork and even made sure I brought my checkbook. Because, unlike every other place of commerce, the DMV isn’t capable of taking credit or debit.
In fact, everything about the DMV is engineered for maximum inconvenience, so I prepared for the worst. I really wanted this to go smoothly, yet as soon as I walked in the door I knew I was out of luck.
There are mean ladies and there are nice ladies in this world. I just so happened to get the one who beckoned me over with a weary wave of her hand and a look that said “how dare you show up on time for the appointment you made to get the card that allows you to function as an adult in this society.” I knew she wasn’t going to let me operate a car, let alone buy wine, but I gave her a big smile anyway. No response.
“Identification?” She asked flatly.
I handed over my Colorado license, complete with suitably horrible photo from age 16. My expression is pissed off to say the least; some have even called it “homicidal,” and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Sadly the humor was lost on her.
I handed her my passport, apologetically. She sighed, like I’d just tried to give her a used kleenex instead.
Some typing. I twiddled my thumbs and observed the joyful interactions other hopeful drivers were having with their ladies.
“Proof of residence?”
I handed her my Bresnan bill. When Bresnan called last month to ask if I was satisfied with my internet service, I said absolutely not, and added that sometimes the stolen internet we pick up from an anonymous neighbor gets a stronger signal. I was told a customer service representative would call me back shortly, and then I was hung up on. I’ve yet to hear from them. Bresnan rates right up there with the DMV as far as I’m concerned.
Yet evil knows evil when she sees it. My lady looked at the ceiling with an expression that clearly said “why god, do you testeth me so?”
“It’s sup-ohst to be in an envelope?” She accused me, holding the coffee stained, wrinkled bill in front of me like the scarlett letter.
“Oh. I’m sorry?”
“Does it even have a date…? Oh… yes…”
More typing. I was really starting to get envious of those other folks and their nice ladies.
“Sit over there. Look at the post card.”
I moved to the photo seat, unsure of where this post card was or where the flash was going to come from
“Gosh… I’m not ready!” I made a pathetic attempt at a joke.
“What did you think you were coming here for?” She spat back.
Flash. I’d been looking to the right at one of the nice ladies, who appeared to be offering her customer a dum-dum.
“AH! Please can we retake that?”
She really considered not letting me. I could see the gears turning. But then apparently the picture was too blurry from the motion of my craning, hopeful head.
I plastered on a cardboard smile and got one more flash. I know without a doubt that the new me, as far as identification is concerned, will hardly rank higher than my homicidal 16 year old self.
“You girls all look the same” My lady muttered, fiddling with something on her computer and refusing to make eye contact.
I don’t really consider myself that vain, but I found myself looking at her and desperately wanting to say “at least I don’t look like a naked mole rat with a bowl cut” but I didn’t.
The DMV brings out the worst in all of us.
Anyway, I then proceeded to fail my written test, because I don’t know the protocol for things like cattle crossings. I think I made that lady’s day. We scheduled the appointment to retake it (another forty minutes to be wasted tomorrow) and I prepared to leave.
“So I just have to come back and retake the test tomorrow?”
“Yes.” She could hardly contain her glee.
“Will you give me my card then, or will it come in the mail?”
“First you have to pass your test.”
“Ok. After I have passed my test, will you give me my card, or will it come in the mail?”
“You’ll receive a temporary. After you pass the driving test.”
“I’ve been driving for five years. Are you saying that it’s unsafe for me to drive home?”
“You have to pass the test. Then you get a temporary, and hen you get your learners permit.”
“My learners permit!?”
I think I heard her giggle a little bit.
“You people are ridiculous.”
She started to say something else but I just left. I do not look forward to our date tomorrow.
Whatever I do in school, whatever I do in life, it’s all dedicated to making sure that I never, EVER end up working at the DMV.