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Driving Test Day at the DMV

Updated on September 30, 2010
Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

This hub started out with the title "A beautiful day at the DMV." There I was. Sitting in the passenger seat of my car. Accompanying my son to his big, long-awaited, long-practiced-for driving test. Sonny was setting the mood for himself by playing one of his homemade rap CDs.

I said to him, "It's a beautiful day here at the DMV! Hey! That sounds like a song title, doesn't it?" He said, "Tell you what, Mom. I'll make the beat and you can write the words." So that was my intention, going into the experience.

I bet I know what you're thinking. Beautiful day/interaction with public servants behind a desk = total oxymoron. Overprotective mother/private sector cynic goes to the state motor vehicles department looking for tangled red tape and exasperation. Seeking evidence that DMV workers are lazy and stupid and just don't give a frig about serving the public. No, it's more than that. They're vindictive, taking a not-so-secret delight in torturing us. They can take their sweet time calling patrons up to the next window -- they've got all day (or at least till 3:59). Your time don't mean shit. Besides, they hold all the cards here. They can grant or withhold the right to drive (legally, anyway). That's a lot of power.

May...... I ..... help..... the.... next.....person..... in.... line?
May...... I ..... help..... the.... next.....person..... in.... line?

Surprisingly, our interactions with the woman at window 13 went surprisingly smoothly. She even went out of her way to help me! I thought I had all the necessary paperwork, but as we reached the front of the line I discovered the car registration was not in my stack. I knew this information could be readily found in the DMV database. The question was, would she comply? Or would she send me back out to the car to fetch my copy?

I was all set to gush profusely over her bracelet (it was lovely so that wouldn't have been a stretch). But turns out I didn't need to. She helpfully extracted the registration form, printed it, and stapled it to Sonny's paperwork.

I could be wrong, but I think she even wished him good luck.


Back outside, it was time to take our place in the line of cars. I dutifully accompanied Sonny up to the front, then hopped out to wait for him to strut his stuff behind the wheel.

Now, I'm a studier of people. I love to people watch wherever I go. Although I've gotten better (most days) at the whole "contempt prior to investigation" (aka, snarky, petty judgments) thing, I still tend to form snap opinions about people.

I was on high alert this morning, for obvious reasons. One of these more-or-less normal-looking people holding a clipboard held my son's driving future in his/her hands. Which examiner would we get? Which one did we hope to get? Who looked the nicest? Who looked mean and cranky?

Interestingly, most of the DMV driving test administrators were female. Many looked to be between the ages of 18-25. I briefly wondered (given the state of the economy) if I should look into this as a way to supplement my income.

I wonder if anyone has ever wracked up their car during the driving test?
I wonder if anyone has ever wracked up their car during the driving test?

 A dour looking brunette approached our car. Without cracking a smile she ordered me out and Sonny to drive up to the white line.

I had the dubious pleasure of watching him do the "instrument panel" test.  Man was I glad I'd thought to prep him on the emergency brake and hazard button just last night! Unfortunately, he bungled his hand signals. He got "left turn" ok, but for "right turn" he reached his right arm over toward the passenger seat inside the car. I snickered. The DMV lady was not amused.

They drove off and I made myself comfy next to two middle-aged women chatting amiably. The one holding the tabloid newspaper (headline: OJ goes carrraaaazy!!) was talking about corporal punishment. Out of nowhere she said, "Hillary Clinton was right. It does take a village to raise children." The other woman, with pouffy dyed hair and drawn-on eyebrows, agreed.

My feeble attempt to join the conversation was to comment, "These days you better be careful spanking your own kid, let alone a neighbor's or anybody else's. They'll call CPS on you. And they all know that too!"

*CPS = Child Protective Services, for those of you who live somewhere where it might be called something else.

Suddenly a red-faced man carrying a little oxygen bag appeared. He asked if he could share the bench with me. Of course I said yes.

Well, I soon discovered the real reason he needed to carry oxygen around with him. If I talked as much as he did, I'd need an extra hit of air every 15 minutes, too!

We all know the type I'm talking about here: "The Talker." No, strike that. "The BRAGGER." It's one thing to make small talk with a stranger, to trade comments related to some commonality -- in this case, both of us waiting for our teens to (hopefully) pass their driving tests. It's quite another to impose your personal information and views on someone without their consent.

I honestly don't know how long it took for Sonny to finish his test. To me it seemed like an eternity. I tried my very best to be polite. I held back the urge to say something contrary or rude (knowing full well I'd have the opportunity to vent here later:-).

Sure, the guy's a proud grandpa. Yay! His granddaughter is a straight A student. Good for him, he retired from driving trucks. How impressive that he can drive anything on the road and that he's taught 1000 people to drive! How exciting for the granddaughter, finally being "allowed" to obtain her license as a sophomore in COLLEGE. And bonus: if she passes today, Grandpa will teach her to drive the motorhome, too!!

I did try to inject my own thoughts here and there. It was futile. Every comment or topic I'd introduce, he'd one-up me.

And let me tell you, the man has some interesting opinions, too. He firmly believes that teens should not drive while they are in school. Why, you ask? Well, that should be obvious! It detracts from their main focus, schoolwork!! If they get their permit or license they'll want to spend time driving around instead of studying (uh, yeah, like all their friends are allowed to do).

Oh, and then someone might bring a joint into the car, or beer.....

It was at that point I had to make a split decision. Say nothing? Or shock the hearing aids right off him?

What I wanted to say was, "Oh honey. I am waaaaayyyyy  past worrying about weed and beer. I'm sure glad my son's kicked his heroin addiction, tho. That last rehab really turned his life around. Praise God."

What I said instead was, "Oh, there comes my son now. He doesn't look too happy. I hope he did ok."

At that moment my son shot me a thumbs up. I jumped up, leaving the old windbag in mid sentence.

It turned out to be a beautiful day at the DMV after all.

Attitude is everything, isn't it?

More Kudos for DMV Efficiency!

Sonny received his new CDL in the mail today. One week from taking the test, and they had said it would take two weeks! I am impressed. I have no car, but I'm impressed...
Sonny received his new CDL in the mail today. One week from taking the test, and they had said it would take two weeks! I am impressed. I have no car, but I'm impressed...


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    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Cool. Yes, they do want you to get your license.

      Maybe a bit too eager to pass some people, tho (living in a very populous state -- some people should seriously take public transportation).

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      DMV give tips and techniques to a href="">driving student because they want you to pass the test.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      11 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, Mighty Mom. We've got 'em covered from coast-to-coast now!

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hey thanks, William F. Torpey, my Long Island friend! Great idea to link subject related hubs. I've linked to yours, also! MM

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      11 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm glad your son made out OK, Mighty Mom. You've had an interesting experience. I wrote a hub about a 1996 visit I made to the DMV in Norwalk, CT, called "Light Reading at the DMV." I've linked your hub to mine since our visits were similar, but much different in some respects. I was just there for the usual routine paperwork. Thumbs up.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Oh dear, Zsuzsy! I have a visual of you chomping at the bit after a long, cold Ontario winter. Suddenly the weather turns cooperative and your first impulse is to bust through the doors and head outside. But instead, you are rendered a prisoner in your own home. We have a neighbor like the gent you describe. She's really darling -- a tiny, pint-sized widown who always appears in floor length robe and barefoot. But she is a talker, too. I know the poor thing is lonely. But she's also more than a bit balmy!

      Also, you got it 100% right on the loss of the car! We're in a stalemate with his dad to buy him a car. I don't have the $ but his dad does. Meantime, until he hits something, he is welcome to use mine. It was many years ago that I first found the freedom of the open road, but have very fond memories of those hours behind the wheel. Come to think of it, my foray into driving was during the early 1970s -- high gas prices and and bad economics. Not unlike today:-)!

      Thanks so much for visiting. You are a treasure.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      11 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Mighty Mom congratulation to your son on a job well done and condolences to you in the loss of your car. Now seriously you shouldn't have any worries about bumping into windbag anymore as he just immigrated to southern Ontario and lives down the road from me. I'm ashamed to say that I dread the spring only as he will come visiting three times a day if he sees me outside and each visit lasts at least two and a half hours.

      I loved the hub it brought back the times that I sat waiting for my three to pass their driving tests.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I must concur, my experiences over the last several years with DMV have not been all that harrowing.

      I have a naturally dour expression. I think it might serve to discourage some of those folks who like nothing more than listening to themselves talk.

      Glad everything went well.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I simply do not drive because it is just way too scary for me.  I realize most people love their cars though and I have nothing against people driving as it is essential to get around in many areas :).  The people inside the DMV were usually nice, but the examiners I got always were really mad my driving skills were not up to par.  I tried everything and even went to driving school, but it just was not working for me.  However, I do save a lot of money and it is good exercise walking home from work, so not all of it is bad.  You are right about the Nervous Nellies and the Hotshot Harries by the way and I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been hit by someone talking on their phone, which is something I might add to my hub lol.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi SP. Sorry your experience was so negative. If you don't need to drive then why subject yourself to the torture of the test? I give you kudos for being so "green" in your transportation!!! I worry as much about the Nervous Nellies on the road as I do the Hotshot Harries!

    • SweetiePie profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I am glad your son got his license. Not sure why the guy you spoke to thinks people have to be a certain age to drive. Personally I do not care when people learn to drive because I have never driven and never will, but many people I know did not get their licenses until after college.  It was not because our parents did not allow it, but many of my friends were just scared of driving up until that point.  My experiences at the DMV were all sort of bad because I am a bad driver and I hate the examiner pointing that out.  The last time I tried I was 24 and I vowed to never get behind the wheel again.  I literally had a bucket of sweat pouring from my hands after driving for just a bit. The last few times I tried to take the test was when my family kept trying to talk me into it. At 24 I just decided enough is enough and driving scares the bezeeves out of me, and you cannot pay me a million dollars to get behind the wheel.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      CC - -Hell no! I could listen to you all day and all night!

      Naturesencore -- I hope your experience is smooth and that your son passes his test. Bear in mind there are 2 levels of DMV employee. The one behind the desk checking that all the paperwork is in order. And the one in the car with your son. Here's wishing you and your son luck!

      ccdursina -- thanks for visiting. I see from your avatar that you are experienced with the DMV since you have a car:-)!!

    • ccdursina profile image

      Carolina Dursina 

      11 years ago from Spring Green WI

      The DMV experience can be challenging! thank you for sharing your experience, great hub!

    • naturesencore profile image


      11 years ago from Chicagoland

      Thank you for restoring my faith in DMV employees. I was dreading taking my oldest son there next week to finally get his license.

      Hopefully, we'll have the same positive experience, minus the windbag, of course. ;o)

    • profile image

      C. C. Riter 

      11 years ago

      Was i that grandpa?

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      AEvans, Thanks. I'll be sure to pass along your good wishes to Sonny Boy. He just drove in from his first solo outing (actually second -- he went out tonight, came back and had dinner, then went back out).

      JamaGenee -- That is precisely the reason we do not go to B&Bs. When we go on vacation we like to be alone together. Or maybe have a BRIEF chat with others (but it has to be brief). That kind of boorishness is all too common at B&Bs. We had a similar experience with a woman in the hot tub of an inn not long ago. We had it all to ourselves when she plopped herself in with us. She told us ALL about how she'd gone on a lovely bike excursion but had drunk too much procecco at lunch. Right. Like that we couldn't tell:-).

      Thanks for sharing. Glad you made it out of there in one piece. Too bad you couldn't have called ahead and warned company:-)!!!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      11 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Congrats to your son for passing the driving test on the first try!

      Grandpa Windbag has a nephew in the West Country of England who holds fellow B&B guests hostage for 2+ hours at the dinner table.  Totally in love with the sound of his own voice.  Told us *every* detail of the "wonderful" company he was en route to promote at a seminar the next day. (Those poor souls had *no* idea what they were in for!)  He didn't have an oxygen tank yet, but I'm sure there's one in his future.  We were too polite, of course, to simply get up and leave. Waited for him to take a breath so we could make our excuses.  Never happened.  Finally our hostess came to the rescue by announcing she *had* to clear the table and go to bed.  Even then he didn't quite "get it".  Wanted to continue the "conversation" (monologue!) on the terrace!  Not on your life!  'Go on without us' we said, then made a beeline for our rooms and locked the doors!  Didn't come out the next morning until the owner came around and assured us he was GONE!

    • AEvans profile image


      11 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Yay!!!! You got his license and what a hilarious day it was for you at the MVD , grandpa longwind I am certain really cut the cake, lucky you for sitting next to him.Lol:)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks for the congrats, Shirley! I don't know what it is, but people randomly seem to talk to me when I'm out. One reason I have become a recluse:-)!

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 

      11 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      OMG, MM! I've sat on a bench with this guy before - never shuts up, knows everything, and seems oblivious to the fact that you're inching away from him. You turn pleading eyes to everyone that passes, hoping someone will save you.

      My congrats to your son and my sympathies to you!

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      More or less, my experience with DMV itself was positive. The last time I went there, for my son to take his written test, I was impressed with how organized it was. They use the old "take a number" system and your number flashes up on a big screen and tells you which window to go to. At that office there was even a very nice and HELPFUL woman at the entrance whose job was to offer information. What a concept!

      AshleyVictoria -- nice to meet you! Oy is right!! No matter how efficient it is, rubbing elbows with that much mass humanity is not my idea of fun!

      Wandererh -- LOL. Good strategy! I had a girlfriend like that years ago, too. She would get real chatty at night. The more she drank, the chattier she got. Sometimes I actually fell asleep listening to her:-).

      GT -- Check out the online system. We actually shopped around for the DMV office with the soonest driving test availability. The ones closest to us were like April 14th. So we drove 25 miles to Roseville to get it done today. Of course the place was packed.

      BTW, you are absolutely not alone in riding around without a valid license. Sometimes I wonder if I'm actually in the minority having both a valid license and registration and current (not lapsed) insurance. I dunno about you, tho. I wonder if this hombre outlaw thing is just part of your persona:-)!!!

    • goldentoad profile image


      11 years ago from Free and running....

      I'm two months on my expired license and I'm like you, the cynic, and by the time i get there at 8:05, there's a two hour wait. I would rather be the religion forum than be stuck there. So I try to make appointments, fail to show, and so I ride on breaking the law.

      But nothing like knowing you are legit now.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      11 years ago from Singapore

      I had a boss like that old windbag once. When he calls me and goes on and on, I just put him on speaker and go about doing my chores or working on the computer. When I hear a pause, I pick up the phone and interject with an "Uh...huh", or "Hmmm...", and he will continue again for the next few minutes.

      Congratulations on your son passing the test. Perhaps he had a good teacher. :)

    • AshleyVictoria profile image


      11 years ago from Los Angeles

      OY, I remember sitting at the DMV for hours when I got my driver's permit. My mistake for getting there at 10 AM. I shoud've woken up at 6:30 AM and got there early! Good hub, congrats to your son :)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      11 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks, Triplet Mom. He was harmless enough. Just a wee bit too enthusiastic about his perfect grandchildren (I failed to mention the grandSON who became a martial arts instructor at the tender age of 10). I swear, my reaction to people like that is to just tell them the (sordid) truth about my life. Evil? perhaps!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      11 years ago from West Coast

      Congratulations to your son!! I am sure it was a great moment!! Sorry you had to listen to the braggart, I am sure he was talking your ear off because no one else will listen to him windbagging. lol. I really cannot stand talking with (actually listening to) people who only like to hear themselves talk.


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