We got our Gold Stars today. I’m talking about the Gold Star that should appear on your drivers license if you want to use your drivers license to board an airplane. The new requirement goes into effect next October.  So, although, we have a year to comply the Bonello’s are planners. 

Monty looked up the information on line and printed out the list of documents needed to present to the Motor Vehicle Division (that right there is enough to strike terror in your heart).  The first question you might ask is who came up with this list? Birth certificate, or passport, Social Security card or document with your social security number on it. (unless you have your card safely tucked safely away in your underwear drawer, its harder to find than you might think). Two pieces of mail with your name and current address, utility bills, for example.  I’m curious what the folks married for fifty years  do if all the bills are in the name of Mr. I guess Mr. travels alone and Mrs. stays home due to poor bill planning.  

We thought the biggest obstacle would be gathering all the necessary documentation to prove we are who we think we are, and use electricity and water.  It only took about thirty minutes to find passports, utility bills and dismantle a recent tax return to find the SS numbers.  

The instructions on the website are surprisingly clear: Fill out the on-line form, bring up the calendar and make an appointment to be interviewed by your friendly MVD representative, print the form with your appointment bar code AND print the one with your on-line application bar code.  Be prepared to pay $25  for your new DL, apparently those gold stars aren’t cheap.  Now that you have done all your homework sit back and wait for your scheduled appointment.

We re-read instructions again the day of our appointments. DO NOT WAIT IN LINE, (try that with twenty-five people already waiting in line) go directly to the kiosk for check in, proceed to the photo both and have your picture taken, meet with the representative who is waiting for you, and use side door to exit the facility.   

On the appointed day I wore my new earrings and made sure my hair was combed, only to be turned away at the door because the photo booth was out of order. Apparently the  photo booth is where everything starts; without a photo nothing is going to get done.  The  young man standing by the info desk suggested we go for breakfast and come back in a couple of hours.  ‘IF’ the camera was fixed they would TRY to accommodate all the people WAITING for appointments that day.  We asked the obvious question, “Can we call later today and see if the camera is up and running? Hand to my heart, the answer was:

 “We don’t answer phones here”.  Did he really think we would ride around and come back every hour or so and see if the camera was working? We were so dumbfounded we didn’t point out his flawed logic.  

On the way home, we had a brainstorm; included on the list of local MVDs is something called a third party facility.  I remembered seeing one of these facilities over on Broadway so we stopped there.  After all my hair looked pretty good and we were ready to put this task behind us. There were several cars in front of the facility with signs proclaiming Student Driver, we didn’t park near any of them, just in case. Back to our story, yes, this place can give us a Gold Star DL for the bargain rate of $52 a piece, double the price of the ‘real’ MVD. Why didn’t that occur to us?  Of course, they aren’t in business just for fun, and it is obvious not many people in Tucson have taken advantage of the driving instructors (cue Bob Newhart).  We politely turned down that gonga  deal, returned home, got back to the computer and set up a new appointments for the following week.   

This time when we arrived at the DMV for our appointment we felt sorry for the  people waiting in line.  Per our written instructions, we are preceding directly to the kiosk, so we politely squeeze past the waiting folks and worked our way to the kiosk.  The sign taped to the kiosk states, you can’t use this kiosk until you have your photo taken.  We heard people snickering when we joined the line (now out the door) to talk to the frazzled lady at the information desk.  To her credit, I’ve never seen a more impressive multitasker.  She simultaneously told Monty to stand on the square, smile, and read the second line of numbers before toggling the  switch and asking him to identifying the flashing lights.  All while telling  me to take the place Monty just vacated and directing the next person in line to window A.   It was like being sucked up in a whirlwind.  

After that flurry of excitement we were directed to line B to stand and wait.  Have you noticed the MVD no longer has chairs?  They didn’t get rid of the numbers however, so we are all standing there with our numbers tightly clutched in our hand waiting to holler Bingo when our number is called.  So I have to ask, if we are all waiting to hear our number called, why can’t we sit down and wait? Either we all stand in line waiting for the next available representative or we sit and wait for our number to be called.  The worst of both worlds, stand and wait.  

A man comes up and stands behind us and announces it’s his birthday and he just remembered to check is license.  Chagrined he almost missed the renewal day.  We wished him Happy Birthday,  exchanged pleasantries, and out of the blue the guys asks what we think of the president.  There is really no way to answer that question, somebody in here may be packing heat! Thankfully the guys number was called and he moved AHEAD of us to the representative.  

Monty met with a delightful young lady and they smiled and chatted like a first date.  I, on the other hand, got the guy who apparently had a bad burrito for lunch, he had a pained expression and never once smiled.   Monty finished up and stood around with a happy grin on his face while I waited for Mr. Grumpy to copy all my forms, ask for $25, and announce I was through.  I’m curious,  everyone provides 4 or 5 forms and the MVD copies all of them,  what do you suppose they do with all those copied forms? Are they building a warehouse?

In summary,  spending an hour at the MVD is like getting a root canal or a colonoscopy. Sometimes you just have to open wide or bend over!  SMILE



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