CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: DMV Is CR2S’s Waterloo at Wounded Knee

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By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

Without doubt, you have favorites: Food, TV program, vacation spot, car. Likewise, specific dislikes: Broccoli, in-law, Kobe Bryant, MRI test. We are drawn to the former and try to avoid the latter. When we have a choice.

But what to do when you don’t? Like a root canal, a boring guest, get a cramp while sleeping. It’s like trying to avoid an earthquake. In the case of CR2S, my nemesis is the Department of Motor Vehicles.

As reported earlier this year, I was shocked when informed I was driving my car sans insurance. Renewal reminders had never been received (or sent?). To make matters doubly troubling, I was on the road with an expired driver’s license (my fault, again). Being a law-abiding citizen, I made immediate amend$ with the insurance company. The DMV posed a wholly different scenario.

Year before last, I regaled Rafu readers with an account of an unbelievable sequence of events: Six (6) consecutive visits to the Montebello DMV in quest of a simple driver’s license renewal. The reasons included such nonsense as lack of proper registration and smog check, eye test failure, impossibly flunking the written exam, and the topper coming when gigged 20 times by an unrelenting driving evaluator!

Ever mindful of the bad karma existing in Montebello, this time around I decided the friendlier environment of Lincoln Park made a whole lot of sense.

As readers were informed in March, I aced the visual exam (with a sleight-of-eye maneuver) and didn’t have to take the ever-challenging written; but a driving test was necessary. Unfortunately there were no appointments available until May due to a shortage of driving examiners. Since my temporary license would expire before then, I reluctantly agreed to take the exam in April, but it had to be in Montebello. A mistake, again.

With trepidation I drove to a city teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. To show my support, I got a car wash as a gesture of goodwill. Besides, I might get that same unpleasant señora who failed me the last time and I didn’t want to get penalized for a dirty car (she docked me for everything else). To make sure nothing could possibly go wrong, I arrived 20 minutes early for my 10:15. Good thing. The lot was full, making it necessary to park across the street. Decided against gambling on a spot in the adjacent bank lot (like once before), where ominous warnings of tow-away abound.

I couldn’t help a smug smile when noticing the lengthy line that snaked around the building, a good 50 in number. The appointment-only entryway made it possible to evade the mean looks of the waiting unhappy. There was only one lady at the reception desk, who in some sort of misguided fairness mood, took one at a time from alternate queues. Oh well, plenty of time. Wrong.

Despite an appointment time, I was instructed to get into another grouping for Windows 22-23, Driving Test applicants. This one had a discouragingly long line and again, only one person manning the double station.

“Any more 10 o’clock appointments?” the man asks as I finally get to the front. No one answers. I’m next. “Okay, now for the 10:30s,” he announces. I object. “We don’t issue 10:15s,” he hisses. (Really, he hissed.) I show him my Lincoln Park appointment verification. He grunts. Here we go again: Bad vibes, for sure.

While casually skimming over my papers, he asks for visual test verification. In a courteous reply, I explain having successfully completed the chart reading at Lincoln Park, that as the paper clearly showed all I needed was the driving requirement.

“Why didn’t you do it there?” he demanded. “Because they had no examiners on duty and no opening for one until May,” I patiently explained, “so they scheduled me here.”

No amount of explanation would get him off the need for a document from an ophthalmologist. I told him I’d met that requirement during my 2011 fiasco. To no avail. And the inept computer didn’t even show proof of my March Lincoln Park appearance. By now it’s apparent I’m on a brand new losing streak. Montebello is Waterloo revisited, my name written in Wounded Knee dust alongside General Custer. Sitting Bull I was not.

Wishing to put this dastardly experience in my rear-view mirror, I wordlessly accepted the visual record form. Then asked that my next interrogation be scheduled back at Lincoln Park. The hissing dude, without asking my preference, schedules me for May 16, 8:30 a.m. Now I ask you, whoever heard of an appointment at such an ungodly hour?!?! But I wisely refrained comment and walked away. No need to describe frame of mind.

So it looks like I blow an unnecessary 25 bucks for an unnecessary form to be completed. Then a return trip to Lincoln Park in quest of an elusive plastic replete with ugly photograph.

Right about now, I’m thinking about getting temporary three-month extensions forever, or at least until I decide the hell with it and stop driving; in protest, if not bowing to senility. Or maybe go to the DMV office in Pasadena or Temple City. They might be more understanding. I could maybe pass for Chinese? “Le ho ma.”

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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