California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the government agency we all love to hate. And often with good reason. My latest visits to DMV were no exceptions. Three weeks ago I went to DMV to get my California driver’s license. Everything went fairly smoothly. I was still in the system, but my license had been cancelled. I filled out all the forms, took the eye test, got fingerprinted, and got my picture taken. The nice man thanked me and said, “You should receive your license in two to eight weeks.” If only. My Nadine went to change her license two days after I did, and she received her new California license in a week and a half.
This past week we had an appointment at DMV to register our Ford Focus. (That in itself was a fun trip; more on that later.) I asked the clerk if she could look up what was going on with my license. She checked the system and said, “Oh, I see the problem. You didn’t take the test.” What? I explained that I wasn’t told I needed to take a written test.
This wouldn’t be the first time DMV waived a written test for me. Probably about seven or eight years ago I had to renew my license and the notice said a written test would be required. When I got there it was extremely busy. Even with my appointment I was kept waiting. I took the eye examination, had my thumbprint taken, and was told to pose for my picture. Then the clerk said, “You’ll get your license in two to six weeks.” I asked about the written test and he repeated, “You’ll get your license in two to six weeks.”
So just because a clerk screwed up, I have the great joy of having to return to DMV to take a written test. The biggest problem is that I won’t be able to take the test until after November 4, 2014 – Election Day. DMV has effectively disenfranchised me.
That’s not all, not by a long shot. As I said, we went to transfer the Focus’ registration from Nevada to California. I checked DMV’s website before going. The site stated:
For out-of-country vehicles, customs, safety, and emissions documents.
You will notice that absent from the list of “You always need…” is a smog certification. I guess I should have known better. After all, I had worked for the Bureau of Automotive Repair for almost 20 years. I knew there were exceptions, though, and I thought that because in Nevada we had to smog the car every year that maybe it was exempt. Ha!
The DMV clerk said every car coming into California needs a smog check. Another clerk said that not every car needs a smog check: If it is no more than six years old or a 1975 or older, if it is a diesel or if it’s a hybrid, it is exempt. Maybe, just maybe, their website should have mentioned the exemptions.
I got the car smogged and returned to DMV that afternoon. I explained that I had been there that morning with an appointment, and had needed a smog test, which I now had in hand. Well, I didn’t have an appointment then, so tough, get in line and take a number. After about 20 minutes in line, I got to the clerk handing out the tickets. I asked her if there was any way to tell about how long a wait I’d have. She checked her computer and said, “It looks like it should be about 15 minutes.” So I waited. And I waited. In the end, I waited about 35 minutes before I said the hell with it. As I passed that clerk, I said, “That was the longest 15 minutes ever.” She laughed; she actually laughed.
This obviously wasn’t my first go-round with DMV. Way back in the early 1990s, I bought a 1965 Mustang. When I went to transfer the ownership, the clerk told me I needed a smog certificate. I explained that 1965 and older cars were exempt. She disagreed. (Now remember that I had worked for the Bureau of Automotive Repair; we ran the smog inspection program.) The clerk wouldn’t budge. I asked to speak to her supervisor, who then also stated that I needed a smog inspection. I had to get them to get out their regulation book and look it up. They finally admitted they were wrong.
Then not long after I got my last license renewed in California, I noticed they had misspelled my first name. It now read Burce. I went to DMV and asked that they correct their mistake. I was told I’d have to provide a copy of my birth certificate or passport to prove my name was Bruce. I explained they had made the mistake and if they checked their past records they would see that my name was in fact Bruce. Never argue with a DMV clerk; a security guard escorted me out and I had to return with my birth certificate.
I guess I should state that my ex-union represents some DMV employees – Licensing Registration Examiners, Inspectors, and Investigators. I have sympathy for DMV employees; they are grossly underpaid. And they are undertrained.
While I was at DMV the last time, watching my 15 minutes stretch into more than a half-hour, I saw and heard a supervisor give a teenager a second drive test because the kid and his dad complained the first test was unfair. I know for a fact that DMV regulations forbid a second drive test on the same day as the first. So much for following their own regulations.
DMV is a joke, a bad joke. It gives all state employees a black eye and it needs to change. People in Nevada complain about their DMV, but it is way more efficient than California’s. Yes, Nevada has fewer people, but they are all crowded into two places, Greater Las Vegas and Reno. Their newest offices are a model of how it should be done. (This doesn’t mean I’m not glad to be back in Northern California.)
Do you have a DMV horror story? Let’s hear it. Click Comments link below this post.
I dream that this giant wooden horse comes to our poor little village, bringing inside it great riches for those who believe in Manna. Boy oh boy, what a big surprise! This could save our poor little village! We would be so lucky if the wooden horse came here. Let's all dream and make it happen. Just say YES!
Every subway rider that’s ever schlepped massive bags to JFK on the A train, or juggled holiday shopping on a packed 4 train, raise a glass to this man. He was spotted maneuvering dozens of balloons onto the 1 train at Chambers Street Wednesday afternoon. Success! And his fellow passengers were typically unbothered.
According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle (July 21), Danielle Saxton, 27, stole clothing July 11 from Morrie's Boutique in West Frankfort, Illinois, then posted a selfie on Facebook in which she wore some of the loot, namely a leopard-print dress. When the store owner posted pictures of the stolen items on Facebook, someone made the connection and dropped a dime on Danielle. Police arrested her and charged her with petty theft.
There are two places that leave a lasting impression on a person: the United States House of Representatives and Fix Pacifica. The one is dominated by a collection of right-wing, self-congratulating blowhards, who, unable to accomplish anything positive themselves, instead meet for the sole purpose of pissing and moaning about everything under the sun. The other, of course, involves 435 federal legislators.
"The Dudley Perkins Company became a San Francisco reality in 1914. Dudley Perkins provided the police department with the most up-to-date motorcycles then available; the 1914 Harley-Davidson model 10F motorcycle had bicycle pedals that were used to get the machine’s engine engaged to start.” (Bob Pilgrim)
Despite the Pacifica Police Department's "zero tolerance" approach to Fourth of July illegal fireworks, violations persisted throughout the city. So let's help out our men and women in blue: Which Pacifica neighborhood do you nominate for the best and loudest display of illegal fireworks? The winning neighborhood will receive honorary "citations" — some folks may even be arrested. Cast your vote now!
Papagallo says he hopes this doesn't jinx it but that it has been very, very eerily quiet around town, a few days before July 4th. We wonder if the recent arrest of the Pacifica bombmaker cut off the supply of illegal fireworks. One can only hope.
The Vortex mover, a strong young guy from Azerbaijan, saves my old oak writing desk from sure destruction during my recent move. The upstairs guy accidentally lets slip the strap holding the desk, but the downstairs guy singlehandedly squats and catches the desk just inches from the ground. As you can see from the video, the catcher is none too pleased with the upstairs guy.
(from my "Wandering and Wondering" column in the Pacifica Tribune, May 28)
As a veteran of many moves in my misspent youth, I broke the pattern when I moved to Pacifica some 20 years ago. I began to slow down and stay put for longer periods of time. I have moved only twice since I got here in the early ‘90s (from Sharp Park to Park Pacifica to Linda Mar).
So it was a shock to my system recently when Leslie and I packed up and moved to a new house. I had forgotten how to deal with the chaos of moving: address changes, purging possessions, packing boxes, hiring movers, kicking dust bunnies around the house, losing sleep, getting bruises and scratches on every extremity, trying to remember where everything is (a futile exercise despite careful organization and labeling of boxes), schlepping last-minute carloads of odds and ends that somehow did not get packed in time for moving day.
Well, I survived, and now am thoroughly enjoying the open-ended process of unpacking and reorganizing my living space. This end of the move is much easier mainly because there is no deadline to get it done, whereas preparing for moving day is super stressful.
All I can say about the experience is that using local people is the key to satisfaction. Let me name a few for your consideration:
Realtor Rich Macario (getrichandbehappy.com) shepherded us through the entire process of house-hunting and house-buying. He was with us every step of the way, staying on top of the financial and legal details as well as the minutiae of closing out one house and moving into a new one. He checked in with us every single day to see how things were going, and when necessary, got down on his hands and knees to fix a balky garage door opener.
Rich recommended the Vector moving company, and the three-man crew spent eight hours getting the two of us and our four tons of stuff moved to the new place. They did the job with brains, brawn, and good humor throughout, including a miraculous catch of my heavy oak desk as it slipped out of the grasp of the guy hoisting it on a strap out the upstairs window (the beast was too bulky to fit through the doorway). We fed the movers pizza for lunch, and at the end of the move, tipped each one as generously as possible.
But Rich’s best referral of all was James and Lisa Pugliese and their four-man painting crew. They turned our plain-vanilla rancher into a colorful delight. Leslie and I both picked out custom colors for our home offices, master bedroom, living room, and hallway. Pugliese and company got it done in a day and a half, and if I told you the great price, you would not believe it. They did quality work with every touch of the brush, and as crazy as it sounds, we actually enjoyed the ordeal. The Puglieses and their crew are personable and professional, and we could not be happier with the results.
Ian Butler and his helper Joe (Bay Area Arborist Co-op) trimmed, pruned, and groomed a stand of pittosporum trees that line our new backyard, taking away three truckloads of greenwaste. We plan to have Dave Martinez of Dig It landscaping “kill” our scraggly, water-hogging lawn and replace it with drought-resistant native plants. Dan Underhill took care of some plumbing issues around the new house, and Rich Shafer of Granite Electric is scheduled to fix some of our wiring and lighting.
Finally, Alan Wald (Pacifica palindromist, who also volunteers with the Community Center rummage sales) was a huge help in lightening our load before the move, picking up carloads of donations to the rummage sales and loaning us his vast supply of handy-dandy moving boxes.
We always say, “Shop locally.” But after this move, now we really believe it. Local works.
Were the gophers wearing helmets as required by law? 1/5/14, 16:28, Welfare Check, 140105133. Occurred on Palmetto Av, Pacifica. RPX ON THE LINE, RAMBLING ABOUT GOPHER HOLES IN HER GRANDKIDS YARD AND RIDING HER SCOOTER. Disposition: Log Note Only.
Some people show off photos of their kids, others take pictures of their horse blankets. 1/6/14, 10:26, Dist Neighbors, 140106090. Occurred on Danmann Av, Pacifica. ONGOING PROBLEM OVER PARKING. TODAY THE NEIGHBOR BLEW DIRT (WITH A LEAF BLOWER) ALL OVER THE RP'S HORSE BLANKET. SHE HAS PICTURES. Disposition: Abated/Advised.
Perhaps the dog was hard of hearing? 1/11/14, 11:27, Dist Others, 140111069. Occurred at Milagra Dr/Miller Av, Pacifica. Male subj yelling at his dog and other people passing by heard only. Disposition: Gone On Arrival.
Iiiiiiiiinteresting. 3/2/14, 09:22, Citizen Assist, 140302069. Occurred on Inverness Dr, Pacifica. Rp would like to know if he is allowed to put mouse traps on his property to keep neighbor dogs from going to the bathroom on his lawn. Disposition: Abated/Advised.
Hello, is this the Fun Police? I’d like to report a crime! 13:09, Muni Code Violation, 140302096. Occurred on Mason Dr, Pacifica. GROUP OF JX'S SELLING HOME MADE CUPCAKES & JUICE - RPX ADVS NOW CAUSING TRAFFIC BACKUP. Disposition: Unfounded.
Whoever can remove this sword shall be crowned King of Pacifica! 4/7/14, 19:07, Property Incident, 140407243. Occurred at San Pedro Terrace Rd/Peralta Rd, Pacifica. NEAR THE NURSING HM WHERE THEY WERE DOING THE SEWER WORK // IN THE GRASS AREA, RP SAW A 2FT LONG SWORD ON THE FLOOR.
A crappy time was had by all. 4/20/14, 09:05, Citizen Assist, 140420069. Occurred on Cabrillo Hwy., Pacifica. Subj locked inside the restroom in the parking lot. Disposition: Abated/Advised.
A member of the notorious “49ers Gang” threatens to smoke a cigarette. 4/23/14, 15:49, Dist Juveniles, 140423154. Occurred on Linda Mar Bl/Cabrillo Hwy., Pacifica. 7 male teens bm's and hms wearing mostly red near the laundry mat and hallmark store rp thinks they might be up to gang activity rp heard one say they are going to bust one out. Disposition: Gone On Arrival.
Tip: Bring the number for the Pacifica Police with you on vacation in case the mood strikes. 16:19, Dist Juveniles, 140423160. Occurred on Cabrillo Hwy., Pacifica. SICK OF ALL THE KIDS LOITERING AROUND THE SMOKE SHOP, SMELL OF MARIJUANA ETC, "SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT IT" RPX OUT OF TOWN NOW BUT FELT SHE NEEDED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IT. Disposition: Gone On Arrival.
You can pick your feet, but you can’t always pick your parking spots. 4/26/14, 13:24, Suspicious Vehicle, 140426132. Occurred at Sheila Ln/View Wy, Pacifica. Ama in a blue car, keeps driving around and then parking for an hour or so -- he is picking at his feet now inside the car. Disposition: Checks Ok.
Okay, Putin is REALLY getting out of hand! 4/27/14, 12:58, Suspicious Circumstances, 140427115. Occurred on Old County Rd., Pacifica. Old army jeep greenish tannish driver/wma 35-40 yrs 6'2 drove into lot looks like there was some kind of machine gun looking thing mounted on the back. Disposition: Canceled.
(Chris Fogel flogs and blogs Pacifica Police logs for Pacifica Riptide.)