How I Broke the Law
Generally, I consider myself a law-abiding citizen. And that's a pretty important thing, being married to a law enforcement officer. But today I made an important discovery. I've been breaking the law... for 6 weeks!
Mind you, it was not my fault or intention by any means. And in all fairness, I discovered the problem personally and immediately corrected it, even though it should have been discovered by someone (or several someones) other than myself. The problem: I've been driving with an expired license.
I had good intentions. Last month, when my license was going to expire, and I didn't receive my automatic renewal notice in the mail, I called the DMV like a good citizen and told them I needed to get my license extended. They said it wasn't an automatic renewal because 3 years prior I applied for a motorcycle permit and, never following through with getting a motorcycle license, apparently I screwed up my whole record at the DMV. They don't know what to do with you if you don't complete something you've started, so I had to start from scratch to get my Class C.
I studied my little handbook, I made an appointment, and then I went to the DMV... good little citizen, I told myself. I got to the DMV, the lines were fast (yes, really!), I took the eye test, signed my name, and they told me to go to the picture line. There were about 8 people ahead of me. The guy at the counter was experienced and fast. Take paperwork, stamp it, enter something, "stand there", snap photo, sign, hand it back, "thank you." Next person, repeat. He had a rythym and was zipping through the line. This is great, I thought. I might not even be late for work. I step up to the counter, he greets me with a smile and says "good morning", takes my paperwork, and says he will be stepping away and some other lady will be taking over for him. Argh. Enter "new lady", a young person who apparently has never done this job before in her life. She takes my picture, it prints out a temporary copy, she puts it down on the counter in front of her, starts filling something out, then keeps looking at the screen wondering "what did I do?" "how come...?" She stands there for about 5 minutes, then goes away to get someone. It turns out she's looking for the photo printout that she had put down on her counter in front of her in the first place. "Oh, here it is!" She hands it to me and says I'll be getting my license in the mail in a couple of weeks. I asked, "Aren't I supposed to take some kind of test?" She answers "No, you're all set. Here's your receipt." So I leave, happy not to have to take the written test.
Flash forward 6 weeks. Past the trip to Sacramento where they almost don't let me board because my license is expired, but allow me to continue because I flash my (apparently useless and fake) "temporary license" to airport security. That sure makes me feel safe looking back.
But yesterday I'm thinking it's been a really long time since I should have gotten my new license. And I'm pretty sick of that wad of paper temp. license in my wallet. So I call the DMV. It is then they tell me that they are not sending my license because I have not yet completed the test, according to their records. I told them the stupid (er, um, "new") lady at the counter told me this was unneccessary. They tell me she was wrong. I need to go back into the DMV to straighten it out.
Today I go to the DMV. No appointment... I must say the 1 plus in hiring all these new people is the lines are MUCH better than they used to be. And I explain my situation and say I have this temp. license (which I show them) but they haven't sent my new license. At which point they explain to me that what I am carrying is merely a receipt and not a temporary license. I am currently unlicensed and I need to take this written test. Now, I have forgotten what I read in the manual from 6 weeks ago, but I'm game. I take the test, the procter is amazed at how quickly I finish, I tell him to hold his amazement until it's graded, and he says the smart ones always go fast. OK, points for compliments welcome. I pass the test, have to go back to the line (which is much longer now), and they hand me another piece of paper which they assure me is the temp. license (but which does NOT have a photo of me on it, like the other paper, and which they cannot assure me will allow me on a plane should I need it), and inform me that I should be getting my "real" license in the mail in another 4-6 weeks. Oh, joy. Another 6 weeks of wallet paper wad. I'm just really happy I wasn't pulled over and I caught the problem on my own. Shame on me, breaking the law like that!