I have a history of going to the DMV unprepared. I think it comes from a desire to figure things out myself rather than read an instruction manual or do research. I remember in 2014 some Korean friends and I did a road trip. I was told that all you had to do was take your American license to the Korean DMV and exchange it for a Korean one, and just go back and turn it in whenever you were leaving the country. So I walked into the Korean DMV all excited about my upcoming road adventure, pulled a number from the waiting list machine and when I was called up, handed over my American license and asked for a Korean one, to which the woman behind the counter replied “Where is your apostille?”
” Uh….my what now?”
” You need an apostille from your home country so we know this ID is genuine.”
“Fuck……okay thank you!”
After arriving at home I, logically, thought my embassy could help me out with this. So I checked their website which proclaimed in big, bold letters that they no longer provided American citizens in Korea with apostilles. (Side note, the embassy in Seoul seemed to go out of their way to be unhelpful to its own citizens as my time there went on, but that’s a different post). So the only thing to do was have a private agency take care of it, which was way too expensive for a 4 day trip (I remember one of the cheaper options being $300). My solution to all of this? Drive without a license and not get caught. Which I did and I had a wonderful time.
Which brings me to the American DMV.
I had just gotten off the plane about 3 hours previously and was woefully unprepared for the DMV. My license had expired last year, I had lost it (drunkenly) in Seoul, didn’t know where my birth certificate or social security card were located. The only ID i had was my passport. I got a ride over there, walked in, took a number, then found the form to fill out for a renewal. My number being called, I explained to the woman behind the counter that all I had was my passport to identify myself, to which she didn’t reply but simply looked up my license number in the computer, then told me I had to take a new photo. I presently have an out of control beard and pink hair, so I asked if I could give her a recent passport photo. Turns out the DMV doesn’t let you do that and now I have a photo of me looking like a baked, pink haired terrorist that I have to put up with for the next 8 years. Also, the DMV gets a bad wrap as a hellhole of inefficiency, but if you go in on a Monday morning while normal people are working, it’s a ten minute, in-and-out sort of deal.