My wife and I moved from South Florida to Memphis, Tennessee at the beginning of this month and for the most part life here has been pretty enjoyable. One of the few exceptions to this happened a couple of weeks ago just after the move. We hadn’t started working yet and wanted to take care of as many mind numbing chores that would have to be done at some point while we had the free time so we decided to go ahead and get our Tennessee drivers licenses. Everything should have gone smoothly because that’s how the universe rewards people for planning ahead and being responsible right? I looked on the Tennessee department of transportation website so I would know exactly what we would need to take to the DMV to make this process as quick and painless as possible. For those of you who know me well are probably shocked how much forethought I put into this given my track record for procrastination. The planning that went into this is probably the most responsible thing I have ever done in my life so I was feeling pretty good.
The following day my wife and I went to the DMV around eleven in the morning. Upon arriving we stood in a long line, not to be given our licenses but to be given a number to wait in another line. We got to the help desk with ease and I confidently displayed all necessary paperwork and our current licenses necessary to switch from Florida to Tennessee. I provided my birth certificate, my wife’s birth certificate, her name change form from when we got married, our marriage license and a letter from the electric company confirming they had turned on our utilities with my name and address typed at the top as proof of address. The jolly government worker looked over everything, gave the “mmmhmm” of approval, handed us the paperwork to fill out and gave us our number to wait in line. We were number twenty and there were five windows open so it couldn’t be that long of a wait.
We filled out the paperwork quickly which in retrospect may have been a mistake since there wasn’t much else to do but hey I was naive and efficient back then. We were so lucky to be stuck standing up in the corner of the room next to a woman with a baby that was gracious enough to serenade us with it’s cries every few minutes. So far so good. After about half an hour I brought up the notion of leaving and coming back another day first thing in the morning when maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded. My wife rolled her eyes and commented on my lack of patience which is completely accurate. After another half hour had passed we were anxious to see how close we were to being helped so I took a peek around the corner at the screen displaying the list of people and line and with a smile I went back to tell my wife the good news. We had moved up three spots in an hour to number seventeen which I knew would cause my wife to give in and let us leave. I told the help desk we were leaving and we left that tiny DMV with the intention of returning first thing in the morning, and that is exactly what we did.
Sticking to the role of responsible human I made sure we left the house forty-five minutes before the DMV opened and after our short drive we arrived to find to our horror an even longer line than the day before outside the building. These people were so dedicated they were standing outside half an hour before the place opened in the pouring rain. Luckily we had two umbrellas but unfortunately they were still packed in a box at home and not wanting to start the day completely wet we agreed to wait in the car until the rain let up or the doors opened. So much for showing up early, but we didn’t have anything else to do that day so we agreed that no matter how long it might take we would just stick it out until we had our new drivers licenses. Same routine as the day before, we waited in line to get to the help desk. I presented our same paperwork, Florida licenses, and completed applications that had been given to us the day before only this time there was a problem. A surly woman seemed to enjoy telling us that our letter from the utility company was not valid as proof of address. She informed us that we had to have an actual bill from them, not just a service agreement and letter informing us of the connection date. I, in the most polite way I could explained that we had just moved here and did not have a utility bill yet but the paperwork we do have was accepted yesterday. The horrible person we were dealing with called another woman over to consult with and it was our lucky day because it just so happened to be the woman who had helped us the previous day and had approved ALL of our paperwork. Unfortunately said woman is a terrible person and a liar who when confronted said that she told us yesterday that it was not a valid proof of address. We wouldn’t have waited in line for an hour if we were told we didn’t have the right paperwork. I turned around and walked out without saying a word which believe me was a much nicer solution than if I would have opened my mouth.
Now that we have our first utility bill I’m debating whether I should go back to that awful place or drive without a license and risk getting arrested because prison might be preferable to the DMV.