Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Changing Rules at the DMV


I usually renew my driver’s license by mail which I did this year as well but you can’t renew a handicap parking permit by mail for some obscure reason known only to those who work for the Department of Motor Vehicles who have screws loose in their heads. People who need handicap parking hangtags aren’t known for their physical endurance and ability to be packed inside a sardine can with a hundred plus people or for waiting in line for a ticket to enter their precious room full of hard plastic chairs, then sit for another hour or two for them to get called up to the counter. I don’t use my handicap parking tag often but when I need it, I need it so I have to play by their rules.

Last week I made my first attempt to go to the DMV. I got a couple of blocks from home when I realized I’d left my cell phone at home on the charger. What should I do? The side of my brain that wants to live dangerous had a debate with the sensible side. She said: I’ve lived better than half my life without a cell phone attached to my body. What’s one more day? I didn’t listen to what the sensible side mumbled back about random flat tires and traffic accidents. I grabbed “danger” by the throat and kept my car headed toward the DMV. 

When I got there, I looked for the red sign on the wall that tells what number they called last but I couldn’t find it. I found out why when I was herded by a bank of computers where we were supposed to register. Great. I’m computer literate. I can do this, I thought. Wrong. It wanted to know your cell phone number so they can send you a text when it’s time for you to get called up to the desk to do your business. That explained the missing red sign on the wall. No cell phone, no way to advance forward. There are so many things wrong with that but it’s enough to say that I had to tuck my tail between my legs and pick my way out of the building. I felt like an antique person with a flip phone...not that there's anything wrong with that.

My second attempt to go to the DMV was on Monday morning. I figured I’d start early in the week, giving me plenty of days to get it right. I had my cell phone handy, I’d even written its number on a slip of paper because, truly, how many people have their own number memorized? I can repeat every landline number I’ve had in my entire life---which isn’t that hard to do considering there’s only been two---but all I remember about my cell number is it contains the numbers of a popular interstate highway. But this time I headed out of town to drive to a DMV twelve minutes northwest, in the middle of apple orchard country where those who work at the DMV likely all speak Spanish as well as English. I checked the computer to make sure the branch hadn’t been closed and I lucked out. 

Speaking of closing up branches, my bank is switching over to one of those “digitally enhanced branches.” Which means they will no longer cash checks or allow you to withdraw or deposit cash. So what the hell are they going to do because they aren’t closing the place? There is still a full service bank in the town where I drove to get my handicap parking permit renewed. But I’m not going to drive unplowed country roads in the winter to get there nor in the fall when migrant workers explode the population of this speck of a town in the middle of nowhere. Growing up, no one would let their wives or daughters go there in the fall for fear they’d be raped at knife point. It’s utterly ridiculous to harbor a race-based fear for so many years but isn’t that what drives all stereotypes that are the root cause of systemic racism? One woman back in the early ‘50s had that experience and a whole group of innocent people were besmirched as a result. Afterward, white high school boys would go up there on a Saturday night looking for trouble and if they found it, guess which group got a slap on the hand while the others went to the county lock up. Jeez, did I get off topic.

Anyway, when I walked into the Rural Town DMV I took a paper ticket from a machine like you do at the meat counter at the grocery store and waited for my number to show up on the red sign. There were only 35 people ahead of me. I was in and out in a flash and while I was there I learned all about how the guy across from me left his short fuse at the restaurant he’d just left, and I learned if you ask an 18 month old girl to tell you what her grandpa’s tractor sounds like she’ll blow bubbles and make adorable sound-effects while putting the "tractor" through gears I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even have. She had our whole row laughing. Conversations like that wouldn’t happened at my local DMV where everyone is staring at their cell phones. At the counter I also learned that the state is talking about changing the rules and letting us renew handicapped parking permits online. Hooray! ©

29 comments:

  1. I think DMV Horror Stories are the one commonality that can bind us all together.

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    1. Our new governor says she's going to fix the DMV. I wouldn't bet money on it.

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  2. it makes sense to me to allow those with handicaps permits to do this online. Then again maybe they did it that way to see if it is really needed. Who knows. Waiting in line is not my strong suit. I am very inpatient but if that little one was there to amuse me I'd be just fine! :-)

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    1. The fear is, I guess, that the family members of dead people will renew by mail and abuse the hangtags. I get that but no matter how the system is set up if a person is a slim bag who will do that, they've already figured out a way to cheat...like stealing them out of unlocked cars.

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  3. Mine is up for renewal next year. It was issued in Maui when I had two bad knees. Now that they are fixed, I wonder if my Portland Dr will replace it for me? It comes in handy to get a parking place that is wide enough to avoid dents and dings in my minivan. Plus when I am volunteer driving, it is so much easier to help people safely inside their destination.

    Does your Dr have to rewrite this for you? How long is yours designated for?

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    1. If you were issued a temporary parking permit you'll have to bring a new form in from the doctor's office, if he'll allow it. If they issued you one without the word "temporary" on it, just go in and don't say anything about your knees. They can't ask if you still need it. At least that's how it works here in Michigan.

      Mine was issued for life but I don't ever abuse the privilege which---frankly---you are doing when you're using it to avoid dents and dings. I only use mine when it's icy out and I'm truly afraid of falling---brittle bones---but lung issues qualifies me to use it anytime I want and sometimes in humid weather when I can't breathe when I walk, I'll use it. Otherwise, I consider myself lucky when I can forgo those spots and leave them open for others. My tag comes up for renewal every 3 years.

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    2. OUCH! Sorry I made light of the privilege ... I do have terminal bunions and hammer toe...and sometimes achy knees (you have two bionic knees also?) In the summer, with flip flops, I don't need close-in parking. So I don't use it.

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    3. I'm sorry, too, for being brutally honest in my reply. This topic always brings my claws out. Yes, I do have two 'bionic knees' so I know that you mean by "achy knees" sometimes that keep me awake at night.

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  4. Yesterday I had to take my wife to the hospital for an small operation on her knee. This I bought a handicap parking permit. Now in my town Amherstburg, I will always find a handicap parking permit spot but yesterday I was taking my wife to the hospital for a small operation on her knew. I had to find a spot far away which was difficult for me. Why aren't there enough handicap spot? It's crazy and what's more upsetting, when I drive near the handicap spot, a car doesn't even have a handicap permit. Very frustrating to say the least.
    Your situation is also so frustrating but what can we do about it? I asked why aren't more more handicap spots. I was told because there really are needed that often. Without screaming in his face, I laughed aloud in his face. There are so many more people now getting these handicap permits. Are people in charge that stupid? See ya Jean

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Hope you wife is doing as expected today. The topic of finding a handicapped parking space when needed used to drive me crazy when my husband was alive and I was pushing a wheelchair daily. I can get quite militant on the topic. The ones with expensive sports cars who use up two spaces and no permit tick me off the most. I've never done it but here we can just snap a photo of the car with the sign and license plate showing into the police and they will send them a costly ticket.

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  5. Can appreciate DMV experiences as ours in Calif. has been and still is challenging to say the least. Ordinarily people can make appointments but none available before mine expired this year. Guess was due to people getting the new license that will also be acceptable for boarding domestic flights, otherwise need passport. But handicapped are processed in line with those who have appt. so shorter waits. My license is good for 5 yrs, then have to go thru again — vision test, written test. Think they want to physically see applicants.

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    1. We just started the making appointment thing here. It's very new and not advertised in the state DMV literature yet or at least I didn't see it. I don't have the enhanced license yet but I think I'll do it next year when I'll have to go in for the vision test. God, I hope I don't have to take a written test. Haven't had one of those in decades.

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    2. Oops....my license good for only 3 years.

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  6. Here in rural NY State the DMV ladies are usually without any lines at least that has been the case whenever I have walked in the building (and I walk in the building for other offices). And there is a drive thru for the DMV!
    We had one of the local banks build a large regional center and we, too, wondered what they need such a large physical space for if they are doing so much of their transactions on line.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. You are lucky! I've always had good luck going to rural DMVs. Had to tale my mom and dad back in the day, so I've been to five different DMVs to compare them.

      Our bank won't even have a drive-throu anymore. I'm going in soon before the change over and decide if I want to withdraw what I have in there and take it across the street to another bank where I have an account I use just for eBay. Not sure I want to go through having my direct deposits changed, though.

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  7. I hate the DMV--they closed the one in Brighton and consolidated it with the one in Howell. It is always crowded and I don't have cell/text phone capabilities.

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    1. I have no idea how one gets around the texting issue unless you take one of your daughters with you or her phone. There was no way to advance to the next computer page to register until you filled in the only question on page one. Maybe Howell won't be as "modern" as my big city on the other side of our state.

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  8. You're right -- there is SO MUCH WRONG with that system! Especially the handicapper thing but really, having your phone too. I wonder how many people don't have phones or don't bring them (that would be me) because we don't want that baggage of being available to every phone scammer in the world. What a bloody mess! I'm glad it's all settled but really????

    On another note, I loved your comment on my caretaking post. Some people get it, some don't. You do.

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    1. I carry my cell for emergencies only so this really irritated me to be in a situation where a smart phone was required like that with no alternative offered for those without them by choice or forgetfulness.

      I know exactly what you mean about some getting it and others not. I honestly think it makes for BETTER communication and a better relationship.

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  9. Needing a cell phone to get your license renewed in person is crazy -- and discriminatory! Grrrr.... And could the DMV be anymore soul deadening? Sort of like the Social Security office. Must be the government office vibe. Glad you found a more user-friendly branch with friendly people!

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    1. Crazy isn't it. I've never been to the Social Security office. That I was able to do all by telephone interviews that were scheduled by appointments. EASY!!!

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  10. When we lived in Maryland, I hated our DMV, or MVA as it is called in Maryland. The wait was horrendous. It made me understand how Dorothy felt when she thought she may never get back to Kansas. I don't know why they can't work this out. I renewed my license online last year. I was so happy to have that option. That photo of the cat and caption is hilarious and so on point.

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    1. I don't get it either. Why do all states seem to want to either not hire enough help or to have the DMVs do too many tasks.

      I love that cat meme too.

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  11. Fortunately I can renew my handicapped parking sticker on line. Except that they often require an updated doctor's report. Which for obvious reasons cannot be done on line. And costs a bomb.
    Hooray for an area where people are not glued to their phones.

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    1. We don't get stickers for handicapped parking permits. We get a large plastic hang tag for your sun visor or a special license plate with an emblem but come to think of it, I'll bet those plates have stickers so they're not replacing the entire plate like we do with hang tags. It's interesting what different states do.

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  12. Due to a series of unfortunate incidents (read: my stupidity) I had to contact the DMV to get a question answered while I was out of town. Oh, my word. You cannot talk to anyone any longer by dialing a telephone number, having someone pick up the line, and conversing with them. Everything has to be done via smart phone, unless you go to an office.

    Well, great. Never mind the details. I resolved at that point that I was going to deal with renewing my driver's license as soon ahead of the deadline as I possible could. I suspect a running start and several attempts are going to be necessary.

    If Dante were still around, there's no question the DMV would be one of his circles of hell.

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    1. The Circle of Hell is a great name for the DMV. I would have titled my post that, if I'd thought of it first.

      It gets me that businesses just assume you have a smart phone. When I had to arrange for the service to put my new bed together you had to download their app to 'talk' to them. I really don't like using my cell for anything but emergencies and texting my family. I have a landline for everything else.

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  13. Why is it that most DMVs are so badly run. In Pennsylvania, you could only pay by check or money order; they didn't take credit cards or cash. Who carries around a checkbook any more? I can't tell you how many times I finally got to the front of the line only to realize that I didn't have my checkbook with me and that I couldn't renew my license or registration without it. They did eventually go to online renewals which I instantly took advantage of.

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    1. I still carry a check book and use it for all purchases over ten bucks and recently I had a cashier at Lowe's have to call someone over to help her figure out how to process it. She said, "We just don't see these much anymore." I was flabbergasted. LOL

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