Thursday, July 31, 2008

Culture Shock

Efficiency, Openess of mind and plain good service.
But today, I'll talk about something else. Something completely unrelated.
Ladies and gentlemen, the DMV.
Got there early before it opened to find out that I'm not the only smart guy in Fairfax county.

They require two forms of ID. Yes, one is not enough because there's no way you can fake two IDs. One, maybe, but two... no way!
Since the only official US document I have is my passport and since my Israeli drivers lisence is not accepted ("according to the law, sir") I was offered to bring in my official transcript from the university. Since I won't have these for a while, until the semester that hasn't started yet will end, this was not a good solution for me.
They had no problem accepting a lease agreement that I printed out by myself for a lease that hasn't yet begun as proof of my residency. I even registered as a voter in the state.

At this point I should probably explain why it was so important to get the license. I'm buying a car and I need to get insurance. If I have an in state lisence, the rates drop by like 40%.

At this point I was told to bring in my birth certificate. I think I had a puzzled look when I was thinking [ok, just hang on one sec, while I go buy a $2000 plane ticket, fly over to my mom's house (only about 12 hours flight) and rush over back real quick )]. I said I'm not sure I still have it, and she replied that I must have it since I couldn't get a passport without it. Since it has been about 30 years since I got my first passport I wasn't really sure we kept it.

When they mentioned the selective service card (somthing I was only first aware of it's existance 2 months ago) my eyes glowed and I rushed back to my mother in law's home to find it.

Since I also found out that they don't really perform driving tests there, I found me a new DMV office and drove there.

I got lucky and received a good education session when I tried to figure out my weight and height in pounds and feet. The lady decided there's no way I can be 5"10 and must be 5"8. "Sir, when people try to help you, you listen and don't write down anything. Now go and fill a new form and come back".

When I turned to go back and fill the form again, she called after me "what did you just say?!" Since I didn't say anything I turned back and asked "what did I just say?" and she said "ok" so I guess it was ok.

I got back to discover my selective service card is not accepted there. It would have to be sent to Richmond and I'd have to wait 2 weeks for their response if they agree to accept it. I got to speak to the supervisor after waiting for her for 15 minutes during which I noticed the slow pace the people were working there. Efficiency was also noted when they had 10 computer stands for taking tests, but only 2 were being used. (yes, they were functional). After almost giving up on the argument with the open minded and understanding supervisor, realizing I'll have to wait to get my student ID card and maybe they'll agree to accept it as a form of ID, it hit me - my Israeli passport!

After some discussions, they agreed that this is recognizable by the USA and off I went to wait to be called to take the computer test.

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