I’m a pretty easy going person. I try to cooperate, follow the rules, be nice, and I think I do a pretty good job….most of the time. But let me tell you about my experience with the Texas Department of Getting Your Stinking Driver’s License. This is not a pretty story; so if you are easily agitated, just stop right here.
Along with all my other belongings, I moved my red Beetle Bug to Texas in January for permanent. Soon I thought I should brave the system and get legal, I mean get my Texas license plate(s) and driver’s license. This journey started several months ago and finally ended day before yesterday. Always trying to manage my time wisely, I stopped first at the sign by the building that said Texas Department of Public Safety, where I had been told I could get my driver’s license. I found a seat in the 4 x 4 room that was trying to hold way more people than it should have and filled out the paperwork that I was given at the door. I waited, and I waited, and then I waited some more. Finally, I was told, oh, you have to get your car tags first and for that you need to go to the Tax Office in Historic New Braunfels (I kid you not, every town around here has a sign that says, Welcome to Historic………). Okay, I clutched my paperwork and headed for the door. I knew I had to stop and have the Bug inspected and that was quick. I headed to Historic New Braunfels where there are circular roads around the town square (circle?) and you have to ease off one and go this way and come back up and then around and, if you are lucky, you will see the teeny weeny writing on the door that says “Tax Office.” I wasn’t lucky. I stopped and asked at a flower shop, complimented the owner on her beautiful flowers, and the Bug and I headed back out. I should have zigged instead of zagging because it was just around the corner. I parked, grabbed all of the paperwork I had and scurried into the office; hoping this would be painless and I could get back to the other place off the interstate which wasn’t historic. As I sat there I must have looked knowledgeable, because people who came in the door asked me where/what they needed to go/do. I told them and even opened the door for a couple of older folks with walkers and wheelchairs.
I felt good about my helpful self. But soon things started to crumble around me. A woman finally called my number; I smiled at her. Yes, I am here and ready for you to help me! But no.
It seems the envelope that I had for the title had something in it, but not the title. Where was the title?!?! I ran out and looked in the glove compartment….nothing! I went back in shame. I told the lady that I was so sorry to have taken her time, I would go home and look for it. I said, I just moved here after my husband died and this was his car. He may have put it somewhere. She looked at me and said, “Bad things happen to everyone.” At that moment I knew, when I came back with the title, I WOULD have a sharpened pencil in my bag, and I would jab her with it!! No, I didn’t, but it did make me feel better knowing I would have the pencil if needed; she wasn’t even there when I went back. But I couldn’t find the title; called the State of Arkansas DVM, sent them the paperwork and $10 and two months later, it arrived. Yes, two months. I called before I went back to the Tax Office in Historic New Braunfels to ask if I needed to have my car inspected again, even though it had been parked in my garage all this time, and of course, I did. I got the phone lady’s name and must have been entertaining, because when I got there and someone asked me if they could help me, I spoke up and said, yes, I am here to see Jane! She came running and I thought she was going to hug me! Easy Peasy!! By the way, the man who inspected it the first time was so nice, he just copied the information from before and didn’t charge me! Yea, for nice person in Texas!
I remembered to ask if I had to get my driver’s license that day (I still had three perfectly good years left on my Arkansas license, after all) and the nice policeman standing there said, nah, how are they gonna know? I liked him!! I had paid for an official copy of my birth certificate from the place where you get those in Arkansas because they wouldn’t take the original. I had everything I needed and I was feeling cocky having gotten my Texas license plates! I stopped at the TDOGYSDL. The woman, started going through my stack of paperwork. Birth certificate, social security card, marriage certificate, death certificate, proof that I do live here, my current license. Wait! Your name on your birth certificate is Stone and your name on your marriage license is Miller and now your name is Strawbridge! I looked at her; she looked at me. I explained that in my youth I had been married briefly to someone named Miller, but Paul and I had been married since 1980. That didn’t matter, she said. She had to have the marriage license or divorce decree from that very brief time when my train derailed. I tried to explain again that it had been a very long time ago. She couldn’t seem to understand why I didn’t have the paperwork. I began to cry. The manager came over and apologized and wrote on a post-it note that when I came back I could go to the front of the line. But, I didn’t know how in the world I was going to get that last piece of paper. Then I remembered a very good friend back home who might just know somebody. I called and he did and he got it and sent it to me!! WooTwoo!!! But then I was afraid to go back. I tried. I will go tomorrow. I will go next week. Well, I went Wednesday, and my new best friend, Irma, the Manager of the Texas Department of Getting Your Stinking Driver’s License, was there and she remembered me and she was so pleasant (or afraid I would start crying again)!! Matthew had gone with me for moral support and I told Miz Irma that I brought my first born son if that would help. She assured me that it wasn’t necessary. I gave her a sugar free Ricola cough drop when she had a tickle cough. She looked at my stack of paperwork, she made copies, she fingerprinted me. On the application I had filled out months ago but still had, I had answered the “have you had medical treatment in the last year” with yes, breast cancer. Evidentaly, that was important and I had to fill out another questionnaire regarding breast cancer. I swore to Irma that I had never used my breasts to drive and it should not be a problem. Texas Law. You have to obey the rules. I did as I was asked. I stood and had my Cosmo photo taken, I passed the eye exam and I got my temporary Texas driver’s license!! Wha? Temporary? Yes, it seems it will take two weeks to get the real one in the mail and four to six weeks to get my voter registration card in the mail and all for just $25 and it is good for six years!!!
All I can say is thank goodness! I was ready to sell the Bug and get a scooter til Matthew reminded me I would probably have to get a license for that and the paperwork would be totally different.