Archive for the ‘Driving’ Category

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

April 8, 2009

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.

Counting the steps

February 20, 2008

Not a procrastinator by nature, I have been behaving in that fashion when it comes to getting behind the wheel. But, as my friend Kay would say, I am now “on the case.” With, I freely admit, a little help–in the form of unsubtle pushes–from others. Since turning over my new leaf, in the past 24 hours, I have been in contact (3 times!) with a driving school, and thoroughly read, and been amazed by, the length of the list enumerating “How to Obtain a Regular Class 5 Driver’s Licence [sic].”


This has been the first time I have come across a list here in which I frankly don’t understand what I am being told: step 2 is to purchase a receipt (as is step 8); step 16 gives pricing info depending on whether one chooses “same photo or…new photos” but same as what? I am referred to the Driver Handbook ($8.35) to learn more about some steps (e. g., “Pass road sign and rules test”), to phone numbers for others (e. g., “Make an appointment for a road test”), and to a web site that is marvelously layered and complex, although well enough laid out that I can take it on, as a catch all answer place.


The web site seems to be written on the theory that stating things three times over is a sure way to help numbskulls such as myself get the point. It is here that I find the explanation for purchasing receipts–and am warned several times that receipts must be purchased in advance, must be presented in advance, and no test can be taken without previous presentation thereof.


Because the site offers the pdf version of the Driver Handbook, I am able to see that it is 213 pages long, with the files nicely separated into sections so that you do not have to download for an hour at a whack. The table of contents offers me a peak at the possible emergencies I shall be facing: power failure, sticking gas pedal, and wheels leaving pavement are just three. The table of contents also provides a glimpse at some interesting internal logic: the section on drinking and driving is immediately followed by one called “getting caught.”


This morning, I actually started to register for driving classes online but was brought up short by the registration form’s request for a “Master number.” I asked around about that today and learned that one’s Master number is one’s licence number…which seems a bit circular and defeating. Plus, i have to learn this new way of spelling license.


But I am now officially on the case.