Do we care how they do it in New York???

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is nigh onto a god, both to the people of the state and the bureaucracy that supports it.  They make a killing on ID’s for folks who can’t/don’t want drivers license, charging as much the one as for the other and smacking down all minds of info on the plastic card in either case:  name, address, gender, birth date, height, weight, hair and eye colours, along with photo and signature, not to mention the latest tech encryption, and require thumb prints….Learner’s permits, on the other hand, remain rather sorry bits of paper.

Today became the day I went to “write” my learner’s exam, as test taking is called in these parts. I had pre-purchased the receipt for the test, as required and brought along “official government ID with proof of age” and the requisite supporting pair of proof that my name and signature are conjoined.  The wait for the test was no longer than at a DMV office–not much less long either–and things were going along in a perfunctory way (although the pencil and smudged photocopy test form were kind of surprisingly retro.  The test itself took me about 6 minutes, and I passed without having done any real studying (not bragging, just reporting the level of knowledge depth demanded).

I was then given a sheet of yellow photocopy paper encased in a plastic sleeve and told to “walk up and down in front of windows 1-4.” In parts of California–Hollywood specifically–this would sound outright illegal.  Anyway…I paraded and indeed was hailed over to window 3 by a woman who said, “You with the yellow paper.”

And there’s where my trouble began.  The info from my “source document,” which in some circles might simply be called my ID (my passport) gave my name using 8 characters and 2 more spaces than the fields allowed the Access Nova Scotia agent to input. Inputing only my first and last names–my standard self-identification–it turns out “goes against policy.”  Instead, each of the 26 blocks must be filled if one’s “source document” lists 26 or more letters in the name.

Knowing where the introduction of yet another “documented” name can lead, I courteously asked if my middle names–which were going to be merged into a truncated stew–could be omitted or replaced with initials.  This question was kicked to the supervisor.  And then to the supervisor’s supervisor.  And then to the Registrar.  I asked what role the Registrar (whose title was referenced by the agent and her supervisor with full capitalization although they were speaking and not writing it) played in government:  a provincial official, a what?  Neither seemed to know (we were filling time while the phone call was made and would ostensibly be returned), so I did a little coaching around use of the internet in the pursuit of reference questions.

Hours had passed.  The agent announced that she was taking a 15 minute break and suggested I go get a cup of coffee.  The process had started at 1:26 and she cheerfully reported that we could resolve it all “by 7 tonight or maybe tomorrow.”

I will not regale each and every moment of the wait, except to note that the room was large and filled to busting with folks waiting for all manner of things from birth certificates to fishing licenses.

And eventually the Registrar made his ruling, which is that my name is to be henceforward truncated into nonsense.  That will be $21.95 please.

And the permit itself carries picture, signature, truncated name, gender and no other descriptors.

Thanks, mom and dad, for giving me an impossible moniker. And thanks, Access Nova Scotia, for turning it all into mush.

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3 Responses to “Do we care how they do it in New York???”

  1. Jan Goldsmith Says:

    Hi, Francisca — What “mush” is your name on your driving license? You neglected to reveal!
    I’m really writing to put pretty pictures in your head, and because I just had to share that my lilacs came, gloriously, and have now gone. I’d be sad, except that my morning excursion to a meeting that had been moved revealed that the dogwood is out in glorious profusion. I love the dependable progression of blooms: almond, magnolia, daffodil, tulip, iris, lilac, dogwood . . . azaleas yet to come! Something to look forward to.

  2. carole leita Says:

    omg! i never thought you’d get this far! !!!

    and what is the canadian name you now have?

  3. halifaxing Says:

    Jan and Carole, please consider yourself introduced. Carole’s been posting wonderful pix of blooming wisteria, in Berkeley, for those of us spring deprived (still and mostly) in the Maritimes. jan, when the lilacs DO bloom here (May, I think), they stay for a month and are stupendous. both of you, come see! (And if you do, I’ll show you the offending permit).

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