One of the things I had been dreading about moving to Connecticut was getting a new driver’s license and re-registering our three vehicles. I knew I had a month to do one, and two months to do the other, but I could never remember which was which.
Apparently, Stamford is not considered by the state to be enough of a population center to warrant its own branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles, so I had to go to Norwalk. The DMV there opens at 8am, so I arrived at 7:30 to be the first online, but there was already a line by the front door, as if they were going to be selling tickets to a Springsteen concert.
Once inside, though, things seemed fairly organized, with each step numbered. First you had to go to a kiosk to have your picture taken. There was a delay there, as people paused to beautify themselves in preparation for a photo that would be seen by airport employees for the next five years or so. That done, you were given a receipt to take to a cashier to whom you paid $40.
(As you read on, please keep the preceding paragraph in mind, because it contains a mystery that I’ll get to later.)
Anyway, after accepting my $40, the cashier told me to go wait under the American flag at the other end of the cavernous room and they would call my name.
As I waited, I thought about the ambiguous statement on the DMV website concerning out-of-state license transfers:
“The operator must possess an out-of-state license which has not expired for more than 2 years. A vision test will be administered prior to the issuance of the Connecticut license. The knowledge and road tests may be waived at the discretion of the Agent.”
Well, that wasn’t very helpful. I mean, what criteria would the agent use to determine who to give a knowledge test to? Would they be looking for people who appeared stupid? How could I know whether or not to study? And would they really pick out people for road tests? I don’t think I could parallel park in fewer than than four moves if there was someone threatening to shoot my dog if I didn’t. (And I love my dog.)
So they finally called my name, and it turned out they were only going to give me a vision test (which I also hadn’t studied for), which is all they seemed to do for everyone, so I guess that bit on the website was just to make you nervous.
I looked into the guy’s little machine, and I recited the letters in the first two columns of the third line and then he asked me what the letters were in the third column, which was somewhat upsetting, because there were no letters in the third column. There was a third column, all right, but there were no letters in it. Then he showed me a screen with nine road signs and asked me which sign looked closer, and they all looked the same distance, so I picked one at random, and now I’m sure I’ve flunked the frigging eye test and would not be able to drive in Stamford which would be a huge problem because public transportation, from what I’d seen so far, consisted of one bus that drove along Long Ridge Road, stopping at random points to drop off or pick up household help.
But, no, the guy said I’d passed, and I should move to the left and wait for my name to be called again, and now I’m thinking, “Jeez, the Connecticut DMV is really screwing with my mind between the bit about possible tests on the website and the actual eye test where I answered questions incorrectly.” Either that, or there are some seriously blind people driving around the state.
Anyway, in a few minutes they called my name and asked me for a hundred something dollars and I waited for my name again and they took my picture again and then I waited for my name again and they handed me a brand spanking new Connecticut license, which, I might point out, is much more substantial-feeling than my old New York license.
Two more lines, and a few hundred more dollars to transfer the vehicle registrations and I was free to go. Total elapsed time: about an hour and fifteen minutes, which was about two days less than I had imagined it might be based on my previous experiences with the New York DMV.
And now for the mystery. If they took my license photo and charged me a hundred plus dollars later, what was the kiosk photo and the first $40 for? I couldn’t get a straight answer. I thought maybe at some point I’d get an envelope with a picture of my face on a fake magazine cover to take home as a souvenir, but it never happened.
KITCHEN UPDATE: Floor tiles are in! Also, we spent $13,000 in an electronics store without buying a large screen 3D HD TV!