Oct 18, 2012

Something to Write About (or Life in the DMV Line)

by Kari Diane Pike

Thanks to a Facebook post, I think I'm onto a new idea for an entertaining (or infuriating, depending on how you look at it) book. Some of you have already read the FB version, but this is what happened when I ventured out of my study/writing cave a couple of weeks ago in order to comply with the law and exchange my perfectly good Utah driver's license for an new (and evidently more acceptable) Arizona license.

Friendly Arizona  Motor Vehicle Department employee: "I see you have your Utah license and Social Security card. Do you have your birth certificate?"

Smiling, cheerful Me: "No, I don't. I filled out all the paper work online and brought everything your website instructed me to bring. The online page says that Arizona accepts a driver's license from any state of the United States as a primary form of ID.:

Frowning MVD employee: "Well, except we don't accept Utah. They don't prove citizenship."

Me: "Ummm...last I
checked, Utah is a state. Not only that, but I had to show my birth certificate and two forms with proof of address in order to get that Utah license. Besides, I'm a former Arizona resident."

Confused MVD employee: "Let me look at the most recent pages. Yes, they are. Let me check with my supervisor."

Defensive Supervisor: "Ma'am, it says right here that it has to be an "enhanced" driver's license to be accepted unconditionally, but there are very few states that issue them, one being WA, but we don't accept them either."

Confused Me: "Huh??? What do you mean by enhanced?"

Arrogant Supervisor: "You should have called MVD if you didn't know what it means. It is a special license with a chip in it and serves as both your passport and your DL. Since you don't have one of those, you need your birth certificate. Oh..and if you're married, you'll need your marriage certificate to prove the paper trail that this is your real name."

Me (trying not to laugh): "OOOOkay. Except...my maiden name is different on my marriage license than on my birth certificate."

Serious Supervisor: "Well, then you'll need court documents to prove it."

Me (losing control): "THAT'S A LOAD OF CRAP!" (Yeah, sorry. I now owe my neighbor a quarter for my unladylike language.)

Supervisor: Well, maybe...but it's the law." (shrug)

Flabbergasted Me : "I lived in AZ more than 20 years! My old AZ license would still be good if I hadn't moved 3 years ago." (Remember, I already mentioned this to the employee.)

Enlightened Supervisor: "Oh. Well. That's different. I'll have your license ready in two seconds. Have a nice day."

Dumbfounded Me:???????
Forty-seven comments were made on that one post and I had several other DMV stories related to me. I laughed so hard! I mentioned how I should write a book -- a collection of DMV experiences and several friends that it was a fun idea. I guess the point is that people love to read about life experiences. We, as writers, just need to hone our writing skills so that we can make the story interesting. I am also fascinated by the fact that truth in experiences is often more difficult to believe than fiction.

so...what experiences have you had that have given you fodder for your writing?

btw...my husband went to the same DMV a few days later and they didn't even ask for his birth certificate. What????



  1. The example that comes to mind is: One day I was driving down I 15 between Escondido, CA and San Marcos when we got caught in a major traffic jam. A silver pickup whizzed past us in the emergency parking lane. About fifteen minutes later, I drove around a curve, and saw that same pickup smashed into the back of a simi truck (the original cause of the traffic jam). I used this experience when I needed to stop my heroine's foster father (the vilian) from catching up with her.

    1. That's fabulous!...not for the wrecked truck, of course, but yeah for real ways to stop villians!


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