Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ah, Bureaucracy!

Well I took the test and passed. It wasn't fun.

You know what was even less fun? Finding yourself in a really annoying and awkward position because of a stupid rule that doesn't make any sense.

In a nutshell I was told that I didn't have to get a learner's permit, take a knowledge test or do any of that stuff. Totally contradicting everything the DMV told me a year ago, to get my license all I had to do was take the road test…and I could take the road test right then and there. Instead of going through the hassle of the written test, getting my permit and waiting the six-month waiting period… I could take the test and have a full license today.

So what am I complaining about? That sounds awesome, right?

Well…not exactly.

The problem is that I haven't been behind the wheel of a car for almost seven years. I haven't driven since I moved to the US five years ago and I rode a motorcycle for almost two years before that back in England.

Long story short, I'm so out of practice that if I took the test today I'd have absolutely zero chance of passing. Seven years is a long time to be out of practice for anything…let alone going back to driving in a country where everything is pretty much opposite to the way you learned it originally.

I explained the situation to the DMV lady.

"There's no point me taking the test today." I said. "I'll just take the written test and go for the learner's permit."

Sounds sensible, right? That way I could take a few weeks to get back into the swing of things and take my test then. Well… what she said next damn near floored me.

"You understand that if you don't take your test today and get your permit, you have to hold it for six months before you can take your road test, right?" She said.

"Huh?" I replied. "Didn't you just say that I could take my road test today because I've got a British driver's license? What difference does it make if I take the test today or this time next month?"

"Because the rules say that once you're issued a learner's permit you have to hold it for six months before you can take your road test." She said, as if she was talking to a slow child.

"Yeah, but according to what you just said, my British license means I can take the test immediately." I read off the paperwork in front of me. "Applicants who have held an out-of-state or foreign drivers license for more than six months may immediately take their road test."

"But if you're issued a learners permit," she begain, pointing at another section of the paper, "you have to hold it for six months before you can take your road test."

I was dumbfounded. The argument was so paradoxical it would have made Gene Roddenberry proud. The DMV is a typical bureaucracy. You obey the rules because they're the rules…no matter how nonsensical or poorly suited to the situation they are.

It was no use. I was caught in a perfectly vicious circle that the DMV lady wouldn't let me break. Apparently the 'six month rule' trumps the 'foreign or out of state license' rule. It was like they'd let me fly their passenger jet, but not if I wanted to go to flight-school first.

"This makes no sense." I said. "What you're saying is I'm allowed to get in a car with one of your examiners today. But if I want some practice first I won't be allowed to take the test for six months???"

"But you can take it today." She replied…again talking like she was trying to explain rocket-science to a retarded chimp.

We talked in circles for what seemed like hours and it felt like I was talking to a brick wall. She was acting like she couldn't get me to understand that it was possible for me to take the test immediately…and I actually couldn't get her to understand that allowing me to take the test immediately, but making me wait 6 months if I got as permit makes absolutely no fucking sense.

In the end, I took the learner's permit. It was literally my only option.

Can anyone out there in blogland come up with a single logical reason for this? Something that even halfway makes sense? Because I'm totally fucking stumped.


Bridget Z. said...

The rule does not make sense. There probably should be an exception. Perhaps a "former drivers 2 week permit" or something.

However, maybe the lady kept saying "TODAY" because she probably wasn't allowed to say "Go practice in some field or empty parking lot without the permit and come back in a few days to take the test."

rayray said...

you should have just taken the driving test and wrecked the car out of spite.

Paulius said...

Bridget: Unfortunately, my blog featured the 'shortened for the sake of everyone's sanity' version of the conversation. The woman literally did not have a clue or see anything wrong with her reasoning.

RayRay: Unfortunately, in SC, you take the test in your OWN car.