So I have discussed my department/bureau of motor vehicles experiences in Saipan before .. Well here’s the contrast.
Today I went for my appointment at the California DMV. Yes, I had an appointment that I had made online about 3 weeks ago. I show up and there is a line out the door but I get quickly ushered to the appointments line and get assigned number A001. Great!
From there, a loudspeaker and a million large flat screens announced numbers and which desk number (of 26 desks) you were being summoned to. I waited patiently, a little glum that I would be giving up my fake looking Saipan driver’s license.
I go to the desk I am called to and produce the numerous documents they required for my license transfer and my vehicle registration. They take my passport (proof of my legal status in the United States) and scan it … And scan again.. And scan again. Nope, apparently the system does not recognize me either because of a computer glitch or maybe because there is some flag on my name or fingerprint!?
So, that was already one thing not to mention they decided to wholly disregard my Saipan driver’s license because they could not figure out how to enter it into their system to check my background check. I’m pretty sure even if they were able to find Saipan/CNMI/MP/Northern Mariana Islands (I gave them every permutation of how it might show up in their system), the computer system from there wouldn’t be connected to theirs here in California. Fortunately I had my old Texas driver’s license on me so they were able to use that and just pretended I never for my Saipan license in between then and now.
Okay, so I knew I wasn’t going to walk out of there with my new driver’s license. Then they turned their attention to my car registration. Besides the fact that I got charged a late fee for not registering my car within 20 days (total, not working days) of it arriving California (the port, not when I had it in my possession) and besides the fact that I took the earliest appointment available….. Besides THAT, they also decided that since my car was from abroad (well, we aren’t abroad people!!) I needed to do a smog check. This is despite the fact that their website says that a new car within 5 years of purchase doesn’t require one. I wasn’t surprised by this and was prepared for all these snafus so I lost my precious place in line and went to get my car inspected and smog checked (for an additional fee of course). After returning, my appointment slip meant nothing anymore so I had to wait in the walk-in line but I was determined to get at least my vehicle registration done today. I waited 2 full hours before I got to the front of the line again when they gave me another slip number to get into the flatscreen queue again. Okay, by this time I am a little tired of standing but am repeating the mantra of ‘patience is a virtue’ in my head and keeping myself calm – nothing to do but keep trying to awkwardly do work on my laptop while waiting for my number to be called. Finally I get to the desk to show the gentleman my packet of material with the newly affixed smog check and vehicle inspection results.
And he flips thru my papers and starts laughing visibly (you know, the quiet but whole shoulders moving laugh)… ‘I’m sorry to have to ask this but.. Did you print these yourself?’ He points to my vehicle title and registration.
‘Uh, no’ ‘Well, I’m sorry miss but we cannot accept these documents’ (you can tell he is still laughing at me and trying to be serious) Hey MISTER, I am an upstanding citizen! I am not a hooligan who is playing a prank on DMV and making up a license and registration from a fictitious island! Well, I put on my most serious face and try to explain Saipan. He is literally still cracking up. I do my best to remain calm and ask him to please ask his supervisor or, for heaven’s sake just google it (no, we cannot access internet on our computers miss). He goes off to make some inquiries and returns to me with a straight face and quietly continues the paperwork processing. He hands me my new license plates silently and says ‘sorry miss.’ To get one last jab in though he goes ‘I guess the fact that it’s printed in color is their security system.’ My response; ‘well yes, that is quite a professional touch on their part.’
Well, that was quite a day so far! I actually do not blame this guy and am sure that it made his day more interesting. And now one more person in the world knows about Saipan!
In the meantime, shhhh keep the secret about my made up island with my fake documents quiet ;)