Monday, January 14, 2008

Government torture

Today I had to renew my driving licence. All I have to do , apparently, is turn up with my old licence and $65 at the licencing centre. Uh hu...I took a packed lunch.

On entering the doors there was a big crowd of people aimlessly milling about, having pushed my way through them, excuse me, excuse me, ooh sorry didn't mean to poke you there, sorry , whoops, excuse me.....FOR G****DS SAKE DON'T STAND IN THE DOORWAY LIKE A BUNCH OF CHICKENS WATCHING THE RAIN FROM THE HEN HOUSE!!!!! sorry, excuse me...I was popped out the other side like cork from a bottle to be faced with a fluorescent yellow line with arrows on it. ah ha I have to follow this. I follow it to the big machine with take a ticket in neon foot high letters above it, all surmounted by a flashing orange light. I kid you not, the machine would have doubled as a lighthouse off the isles of Scilly.

A smaller sign at the bottom informed me that tickets would not be seen in numerical order...uh? I was pondering this when I got squashed by the crowd of people behind me who had not seen the fluorescent yellow walkway on the floor and the big orange flashing light. Ducking quickly to one side I look for a seat in the waiting room. Okay, every person in my town needs a new licence today, they're all here, and all spaced out alternately up the rows of seats. You know, you sit on the seat, put your bag on the next one, then someone sits on the next one and puts their bag on the next one etc. etc.

I found a seat but discovered it was free because the person one seat away was trying to drink a can of coke through a pin hole, with no teeth but with sound effects, and the lady behind me had had to bring all twenty-six of her children, all in various stages of undress and snottiness. I know I thought, I'll get a book out. No that's not a viable option, remember, tickets are not seen in numerical order. You have to watch the display. There is a tannoy sytem but as far as I can tell the tannoy is shouting different numbers to the one the display is showing.

Every time a new number pops up there's a stir of anticipation in the crowd, could it be me? And then a collective sigh of not yet. Sometimes a number is displayed three times, and no one gets up, the crowd whispers, should we say , or just hope the next randomly generated number is for me. The crowd grows restless, the man at window three has been there for an hour, and he's been outside twice to fetch more paperwork. Make him get a new number we whisper.

Finally, just as the overall air of despair was starting to get to me my number came up. I jumped to the window, nearly gave the trainee behind the desk a heart attack........oh noooooooo a trainee! Nothing ventured nothing gained, I produce my old licence, my money and the filled out form. It all goes very quickly, she is efficient, she is on the ball, all is well in my world. I go for my new photo. I have to have new one as I'm getting a five year licence and that means I won't have had a new photo or ten years. It is on the tip of my tongue to tell her I've been in the waiting room for ten years but I button it.

Oh by the way I remark, can you change this typo on my name? The last time it was renewed the woman behind the counter had transposed two letters and wouldn't correct them. Could she? I'd found out it was illegal you see, to have the wrong name on there. Well, no she couldn't, not without my birth certificate, marriage certificate, and as they aren't Australian documents, my passport as long as its valid and a personal letter of recommendation from Edna Everidge, Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue. Oh , I'll live with the name change then.

She very nicely took two photos though so she could pick the best. Then I had to go to another part of the room to wait for my licence. There was a crowd of us, barely containing our excitement, we were nearly out of there!! The tannoy was in operation though, we had to guess the name. We came up with a group system, we'd have a guess at the name and some-one who seemed like the right sex would go to the window. Then when they came back we looked at the picture and tried to guess whose licence it was. I got a nice new licence, but I'm not sure its my photo?

On the way home it suddenly struck me, I can never get a passport, because I need my driving licence for my passport for ID, and I can't change my driving licence because I have no passport. So that is how they're keeping the population up in Australia, you can get in , but not out.


Anonymous said...

This gets better and better! Hilarious. Very visual writing, I am looking forward to the next instalment.

Eve Redstone said...