Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh, the Rejection

We've been trying to become bona fide citizens of this state for some time now.  Technically David doesn't have to, being active duty, but apparently I have to, and we decided to both go for it just to simplify matters.  Just imagine being able to actually have the same legal address, vote where you live, and not have so much explaining to do when tax season comes around.  We felt like we should regularize the situation in a timely manner.  We have also recently been gifted with the ownership of our primary vehicle, so we had a title to file and new registration to acquire.

As soon as we had our signed lease for our apartment, we went in search of the local DMV.  With the sketchy internet service we had at the time, we were able to generate one address on the Google page, and thankfully it wasn't far away.  We headed down there with our folder of official paperwork, only to discover that it is an "express" location which doesn't offer any of the many services we require.  There was no indication of an alternative location to which to take ourselves.  We decided to go ahead inside and ask someone where we were actually supposed to go, but apparently we would be expected to take a number from the kiosk and wait an hour to be seen.  We weren't about to wait an hour just to ask for directions, so we stomped out and called my parents, asking them to conduct an internet search on our behalf.

The location of a full service DMV was discovered, but it was in the next county, a good half hour drive from home.  We drove away in the hope of having better luck there.

Long story short, when we finally reached the front desk, the lady explained to us that we needed TWO proofs of legal residence, not just the lease.  We didn't have any gas or electric bill yet, and we hadn't changed our address with the bank.  Apparently a vehicle registration would work, and since we were there to do that anyway, we asked if we could possibly register the car first and use the registration to acquire driver's licenses.  Apparently we could.  We stood in line at the other desk and attempted to fill out the forms.  Every question was ambiguous, and we stood in line a few more times just to clarify some things.  For instance, there was a blank for a "Maryland driver's license #."  We didn't have Maryland licenses and anything we put down would be misleading because they would be Georgia and Virginia numbers.  And did they want the address we currently called home, or one of the two legal addresses that appeared on the licenses we did have?  It was such a mess, we walked out and decided to go back when we had a bank statement for our second proof of residence.

We went by the bank on our way home and changed our billing address.

Apparently since I am only the co-owner of our bank account, I cannot access the statements when I log into the website.  We went paperless a while ago, mostly because we didn't want bank statements bouncing between addresses while the move was going on.  So, a week after we had changed our billing address, I simply walked into the bank and asked for a statement.

They looked at me like I was crazy.  Apparently nobody asks for a statement anymore.  I explained that it was for the DMV, and then it seemed to make sense to them.  They printed a summary of our account with the new address, and had a few bank representatives sign and date it.

That Friday (a week after the first endeavor) we make the drive back to the DMV, feeling very prepared.  Who gets anything done on their first trip to the DMV, anyway?  We spread everything out for the lady at the front desk, and she promptly dismissed my paper from the bank, saying it needed to be an actual statement, not just a summary.  I explained that it was the only thing they would give me.  "Oh, well have you been a resident for at least 30 days?  Well, that's why they can't print you a statement yet."

Everywhere we seem to be meeting a new glorification of procrastination.  We went home once again, having accomplished nothing.  When we did get home, we found our first gas/electric bill in the mailbox, but we were too tired to go back.

We planned to go back the following Friday with this gas bill, but I noticed that my name did not appear on it, and apparently being married to the party named on the gas bill is not legal proof that I live with him.  Strike out once again.  We didn't even both driving down there.

At long last, thirty days passed in our new home, and I logged into the bank website as David and printed our %@#$ bank statement.  We had one Friday left before he would no longer be able to leave work early enough to make the trip, the Friday before Memorial Day.  We planned our day around it, and got there early enough to have several hours to navigate the bureaucracy.

But, unbeknownst to us, everybody at the DMV decided they wanted a long weekend, and the place was locked up and deserted when we got there.  Our bank statement wasn't going to do us any good that day.

I can't help but get the feeling that Maryland doesn't really want us.  They sure aren't in a hurry to help us get this worked out.  We don't take our social security cards for joyrides every weekend just for the fun of it.

I'm going down there again today, alone, just to see if I can accomplish anything.  The worst they can say is that our bank statement is no good because a mailman didn't deliver it by hand to our address, and that I can't register the car by myself because I'm just the co-owner.  In that case, David will have to take time off work just to visit the DMV, and I may be arrested for throttling someone.

(Several hours later . . . .)

Thank God, they accepted the bank statement.  It took all morning, but I now have a garish new Maryland driver's license.  I stood in the vehicle registration line for two minutes before I decided I would have better luck first thing in the morning on some other day.  The last time I saw a line like that was at Six Flags.  My afternoon would be better spent at the gym, which is where I'm off to now.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Surviving the Rat Races

Our apartment is lovely, and it is very nice to be back within driving distance of a bunch of family and friends, but with that blessing comes other challenges.  It's a little known fact that the postal code "MD" actually stands for "Maniac Drivers."

I'm not a slowpoke by nature; I usually cruise along the highways at least five miles over the legal limit.  But when everyone around me comes whizzing by at ten, twenty, and thirty miles over, I begin to wonder if I missed some statewide memo about disregarding the signs.  The highway to and from Ft. Meade is a posted 55 mph zone, and at times I fear for my life attempting to maintain 60.  I sped up next to one of my fellow drivers once just to see what the typical cruising speed was, and we maxed out at 85.  Seriously?

I am well aware that every state has a percentage of supremely rude drivers, but getting behind the wheel in Maryland seems to bring out the worst in people.  Every drive is a race; every two minutes there's another tailgater trying to drive into your trunk before he peels away in a cloud of burning rubber and baleful glares.  California drivers were downright mellow by comparison.

Merging is a problem, quite a larger problem than it might otherwise be because every intersection has yield lanes, and this state likes to combine on and off ramps.  Apparently merging in front of someone else is considered insulting, so everyone speeds up and closes ranks to prevent the merge from happening.  Is there some prize money riding on the most efficient commute?

What makes the situation more inexplicable is that there are swarms of police in the area.  They do pull people over, although apparently not as often as they could.  It doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent.  Maybe people budget 10% of their weekly income for speeding tickets, failure to signal, failure to yield, or failure to even slow down at a stop sign.  

For heaven's sake, it's just a highway, not NASCAR.