Friday, October 19, 2012

so that i may see

What follows is the epic tale of how I obtained a Tennessee drivers' license and of the pitfalls and lessons learned along the way.

It all began on a Sunday afternoon when, while driving home from church, I found myself bathed in sudden and unwelcome blue lights. The very polite officer informed me that one of my brake lights was out and asked to see my license. I handed him my Kansas license. I hadn't gotten around to driving to the DMV 40 minutes out of town yet to switch it out and, since it was valid until May, I wasn't too worried about it. He nicely informed me that since I legally only had 30 days to switch it over I needed to get on that and he wrote some stuff down which everyone knows means it's all official. Thus began my Journey.

Attempt #1- The state of Tennessee requires three proofs of name and four proofs of address. This is stated very clearly on their website so when Ty and I headed out that morning we had a substantial pile of paper with us. I had followed the list meticulously. Ty's paperwork was accepted without question, he looked into the eye machine, got his picture taken and Voila, he was licensed to drive in the Volunteer state. Turns out though, that if you are a woman who took her husband's name when you got married 15 years ago, your birth certificate doesn't count. Even when they have lots and lots of other pieces of paper that state your current legal name. Your out-of-state license doesn't work either. Only a marriage certificate or a passport (both easier to obtain than this license) will do. And so I left empty-handed and a little irritated.

Attempt #2- This time I was ready. The stack of paper was even larger, and though the clerk doubted the veracity of my car title he could not prove that is was anything but authentic. He grudgingly sent me to the eye machine lady. As soon as I looked into that machine, I knew something wasn't right. The whole bottom half of the machine was fuzzy. I told her I was concerned that it wasn't working properly, My concerns were summarily dismissed and I was again turned away, this time with the instruction that I had to get a note from my eye doctor stating that despite what the faulty machine said, I could see properly.

The Eye Doctor- I walked into my very first real eye appointment in about 20 years full of confidence. Full. When I'd had my eyes checked in high school, I'd had perfect vision, absolutely perfect. It was like my very own super power. Over the years I continued to be able to see stuff and so I didn't worry. I had taken lots of DMV eye tests and passed them all. I was confident that the eye doctor would be on my side in this whole debacle. I was again disappointed. Apparently having babies breaks your eyes and this is why I was spending all my time worrying about squint wrinkles. I also found out that I have a super rare  (.03% of women) form of color blindness (apparently blues and purples look just slightly different to me than they do to you) and so now I can't be a fighter pilot. I left with both glasses and contacts, sighing loudly all the way to the car.

Attempt #3- This time I approached the dreaded building with my heart in my throat. What if they turned me away again? What else could go wrong? What is my Kansas license expired and I still didn't have one in Tennessee? How could I look the eye lady in the face after insisting that her machine was broken when it clearly was not? Taking the eye exam again was excruciating. What if I still failed? Then what? It was possibly the most terrifying 2 minutes of my life. When they took my picture, I couldn't quite believe it was happening. Then, when they handed me the finished license, I just stood there, dumbfounded. Surely, this couldn't be all? But it was and once you have a license in Tennessee you just renew online. As long as I pay attention, I won't ever, ever have to go back to the DMV again.

And so the journey ends, the treasure finally acquired, I have lost some things (fighter pilot potential) and gained others (voting rights in my home state) and I find that I am simply grateful to be at the conclusion of this particular path.


Linn said...

Wow, that is quite the story! So glad you have a valid Tennessee license and that you have joined the glasses/contact club. It's a great club. I've been a member for far too long.

Carrie said...

And NOW, I know exactly what I need to do to get my new license in about 9 months!!!! Thanks, Ang!