Craig took the day off on Tuesday to do all the changeover things we've been putting off since we moved here...tags for vehicles, applying for Homestead Exemption (I have no idea what that is,) and changing his drivers license from Texas to Alabama. I thought about going with him, but I knew we didn't yet have everything we needed for the girls to get their licenses and that I'd just have to go back again anyway, so I opted out of that fun trip.
He came home with a glowing report that the St. Clair County Courthouse wasn't busy at all, that the cute little lady who helped him was so nice and had given him all the instructions we needed for the girls to come back the next day, and that if we came after 11:00am there would be hardly anyone there.
So yesterday, the girls and I went to the HS to get VOEs (Verification of Enrollment...now that they're both officially registered with classes and everything) and then took all of our stuff and drove down to the county courthouse. We followed all of Craig's directions including exactly where to park, and exactly where to go once we got inside the building, and we were thrilled to see that there was, in fact, no line.
The morning had gone pretty well so far. I had already walked 9,000 steps and it was barely 11:30am. I knew I had all the necessary stuff with me for the girls to take their drivers tests. And Craig had told me that the people were super friendly and helpful. So when I walked into that office and I saw two women sitting there all by themselves, as if they had been waiting for us all day long, I just knew they would be just like all those other helpful southern people we've already experienced everywhere else we've been, and I just knew this was going to be the best DMV experience we had ever had.
Unfortunately, the lady I chose to talk to must not have been the one Craig talked to on Tuesday and she also must not be from Alabama because she was not the slightest bit happy or helpful. Honestly, I'm pretty sure she was the most intimidating woman I've ever met, and after about ten minutes, I wanted to just take all my stuff and leave, and just never drive in Alabama.
Do you remember Roz from Monsters, Inc? Apparently she works at the St. Clair County Courthouse.
Roz mechanically went through all the necessary steps to change my license from Texas to Alabama, and then informed us that the girls would need to come back tomorrow to take their drivers tests. Then she handed me back all my papers, gave me my temporary Alabama license, told me I would get my permanent one in 2-4 weeks, and moved on to her next
Since I had no idea what she had even told us to do the next day or why the girls couldn't just take their tests while we were there, I walked upstairs and asked someone a little bit nicer for a little more information. The woman I found didn't give us many more details, but she at least spoke more slowly and she didn't make me feel like she was mad at me for asking. The girls and I compared notes in the car, and pieced together through the vague instructions that we were supposed to come back BEFORE 7:00 the next morning and line up outside the building until the office opened at 8:00am. Great...it's a 30 minute drive to the courthouse...so much for my awesome walking streak this week and my peaceful morning routine...
The girls and I were up and out of the house this morning by 6:30, and made it to the courthouse just after 7:00. We waited in the drizzly weather until the door finally opened at exactly 8:00am. As soon as that door was unlocked, you would have thought we had been waiting outside Walmart on Black Friday for some amazing deal on big screen TVs! The handful of people waiting with us pushed us and each other through that door like a small herd of cattle. Good grief!! The herd ran past us down the hall to the little door where Roz was sitting right where we had left her yesterday. A bunch of them signed their names on a clipboard attached to the door and then sat down to wait in the seats in the hallway. When there were no more places to sign up for road tests, Roz's friend came out, pointed to the girl directly in front of us and then to Emma, and said, "You will be #4 and #5 and the rest of you will have to come back tomorrow." FIVE road tests a day!!?? You've got to be kidding!? I stood there while she looked at me like there was something wrong with my hearing, and when I told her I had TWO girls who needed road tests, she had to ask Roz if she would be willing to do a 6th road test today. Roz was not thrilled. She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, "Do you have all their paperwork?" I nervously rifled through all my stuff and handed her everything the girls needed, and she reluctantly agreed to do an additional test for Megan.
We waited, relieved but irritated, out in the hallway with the oddest lot of people in the entire state of Alabama. Between the woman to the left of us who was on probation and apparently only able to speak in long strings of profanities, and the very large special needs man to the right of us who was literally crying because he was so nervous about taking his test, I wanted to throw myself right off a cliff after the first 30 minutes. Finally, two hours later...at 10:00, Roz came out into the hall and announced that all SIX road testers should follow her.
Oh, my poor little girls...
Since Roz had specifically instructed the moms to wait in the hallway until further notice, I sat there and watched my babies follow the lion into her den. I hoped they wouldn't be too nervous and that they would come back in one piece...with licenses.
The girls texted me from the car while they waited for Road Testers #1-4 to finish. #1 came down and walked into the office with a piece of paper in his hand, but I didn't see anyone after that. Apparently they did not pass because Megan texted and said #2, #3, and #4 all just got back in their cars with their moms after their tests and drove away. 25% passing rate so far...yikes!
I waited and waited and waited, and FINALLY Emma came down with a piece of paper in her hand!! Hallelujah! While Roz's friend finished Emma's paperwork and collected my $5, we all crossed our fingers that Megan would come down with a piece of paper, too.
Unfortunately, she did not.
She came down to report that she had failed because she ran a stop sign. Um...I can't even stretch that into somehow being Roz's fault. Running a stop sign is a legitimate reason to fail a drivers test. I think she was just nervous...and less enthusiastic than Emma about driving. She's the one who said to me on the drive over, "If I pass this and get my license, I will never have to drive again, right?!" (what 17-yr-old says that?)
1. The rain made the hour standing outside a whole lot more bearable.
2. The grandmother of Road Tester #4 was that sweet, lovely southern woman I hoped Roz would be, and I had a very nice conversation with her in the 90 minutes we had to wait for our girls.
3. Emma drove us to lunch today after our harrowing experience with Roz.
4. We only have to wait a week before Megan can take the test again.
5. I really only needed one of them to pass in order to ensure that I don't have to drive to early-morning seminary again for the next two years.
6. I think it counts as a major success in my life that I have survived not just one, but TWO encounters with Roz...and I'm going to just set aside for now the part about having to go back there a third time...
7. Emma can DRIVE! Hooray for my resilient, unintimidated little thing.