Yesterday was a red-letter day for me. I was finally, finally able to get my Texas Driver’s License. It was my fourth attempt, and I was really determined.
It isn’t easy getting a driver’s license here. After standing in line for an hour or two on my first attempt, I discovered that they do NOT take a debit card. Cash or check or money order only. I found this out while I was still at least two hours away from the window, so I asked the other people in line if there was an ATM in the building. They laughed.
Second attempt. Line was out on the sidewalk and in the yard. Not moving. Not moving. Not moving. Then it started to rain. Rain, I can handle, but when the lightning and thunder began, I folded. It was just as well. I didn’t know it at the time, but I wouldn’t have gotten it that day anyway.
Third attempt. The line was still out on the sidewalk and in the yard. Oh, well, here we go again. I got in line and stood there for a while before someone said, “Forget this. I’m going to Huntsville.” After standing in the frozen-in-place line for a while longer, that sounded like a plan to me. I got in my car and drove to Huntsville. Someone said it would move faster in Huntsville. That someone was wrong.
When I got to Huntsville, I was impressed. Yes! Smaller building! Shorter line! Someone in line told me to grab the paperwork I needed and fill it out. There was no place to sit or write, as there was a human being in every chair and occupying nearly every square foot of floor space in the building, so I stood on one foot and used my left leg as a sort of “desk” to fill out the paperwork. It was tricky, but I managed to get everything filled in, and there I stood in a line snaking throughout the room, clutching my paperwork tightly, waiting, waiting, waiting.
Meanwhile, a state trooper came in and pulled a woman out of line ahead of me. She was taken outside and arrested for something or other. That was strange. Then a homeless guy came banging loudly on the glass door at the back of the place, demanding entry. The woman behind the desk yelled at him to go around the front — over and over again. He finally understood and came through the front door and mingled with the crowd, sharing his potpourri of delightful odiferousness with us all before going to the men’s room. Then he left.
When I discovered that there was only one…person…working…there, it was too late. I’d already invested a couple of hours in line. A woman ahead of me (not the one arrested), started yelling at the woman behind the desk; just generally making a scene. A couple of state troopers reappeared and made their presence known. Things calmed down.
After nearly four hours of waiting, I was at last at the desk, and that’s when I was told that I would need an “official” birth certificate and a copy of my marriage registration… “Next!” Never mind that the birth certificate I had in my hand was sufficient to get me into Canada. Texas is more picky than Canada.
I went home in defeat and looked online at the identification requirements again. It just says to bring proof of who you are as well as auto registration and insurance, proof of residence, yada, yada. Golly, I had my Tennessee driver’s license, hospital birth certificate, and all the rest of it, but it wasn’t enough. For all they knew, I was some sort of an anglo-terrorist, trying to sneak into Texas to defile the Alamo or something. No way, people! I want to preserve history. Nevertheless, I didn’t make the cut. Four hours wasted.
So, I wrote to my home state, got all the “official documents” finally, after paying nearly $50 for them, and once again, made my way to Conroe. Got there at 10:30 a.m. Got my driver’s license at 2:00 p.m. Hungry and cranky and tired from standing most of that time, I was still elated. Success! I’m an official, card-carrying Texan now, or at least I will be when I get my license in about six weeks. These things are gold. They just don’t make ’em on the spot and hand ’em out the way they do in most states. No siree, you’ve gotta anticipate and appreciate. When mine comes in, I think I might just drive to San Antonio and visit the Alamo. I look forward to that with anticipation and appreciation.
Only in Texas…