Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Who says customer service is dead?

As you all know, I turned 39 in November (Ooops! Almost typed "30" - that would have been an unfortunate error, huh?) What this meant, among many other things, is that I had been a citizen of Iowa for FIVE years. FIVE. For my friends who "went through" the move from Colorado with me, I know they are probably as in shock about that as I am. Time really does fly when you are having fun...or whatever the hell it is I've been doing. Ok, ok...time flies when you are getting divorced too. That's really true, in a sad way. ANYWAY. Five years. I didn't really stop and think about all that signified at the time. A benchmark perhaps, but I'd have to consider that later because there were Christmas gifts to postpone buying, boxes that I'd postponed unpacking long enough, and of course the usual every day drama to deal with. I'd reminisce about my five years of being an Iowanian later.

Funny, the Department of Transportation really doesn't like you to put off some things. Yeah. I had totally forgotten that this was my year to renew my driver's license until some clerk carded me for a bottle of sparkling grape juice on Christmas eve and said "Oh hey, you know your license is expired?"


So at that point I figure I'm already 30 days behind...what the hell is the rush now? I planned a day off to go to the DOT around a day that I already had numerous other reasons to be off work (yes, I spent half my day at the school...if you were wondering). I hopped on the DOT site last night to see how much money and how many hoops I'd have to jump through. I'd already cleaned out my car in anticipation of having have a driving test. There are several reasons I'm glad I did this. For starters, I found out that the DOT station I've gone to for everything since I moved here, just a few blocks from where I used to live...has been permanently closed. I had to drive to Ankeny, which isn't that far, but honestly? Isn't that close either. You'd think that the freaking state capital would have at least ONE operating DOT station, but noooo. Anyway. (I'm saying that a lot, huh?)

The other thing I learned pissed me off (at myself) to no end. I had assumed, for no reason what so ever other than it made sense to me, that there was a thirty day grace period for getting your driver's license renewed. Nope! The state of Iowa is generous and gives you a sixty day grace period. Being a collections professional it is very easy for me to calculate days quickly. Today was, you got it SIXTY-TWO days after my 39th birthday, the day my driver's license expired. So, it seemed I would have to take a written test (they only require the driving test if you've let it lapse for over a year...I should really do more research earlier, shouldn't I?) So I spent about three hours last night cramming like a teenager for my stupid driving test.

I stood in line and my strange stress thinking had me conversely panicking and laughing like hell at myself. What if they arrest me for driving up here without a valid license? What if they fine me? Then I'd laugh at myself. I got up to the counter. The lady was not as good at figuring out the past due days as I am (I'm telling you it, truly it is a MUST in my industry) and she got out her little cheat sheet..."so it would have been sixty days on...."

"Sunday." I assured her.

"When we wouldn't have been open, so if you would have been here yesterday you would have been ok." She gave me a sad little smile.

I nodded sheepishly, probably looking much like my children do when caught with their fingers in the proverbial cookie jar. "I don't suppose the fact that the Department of Transportation cares much about it being the holidays and that I moved, and that my kid was having trouble in school during this time."

She smiled wryly. "Not really. But I don't think they really care very much about 24 hours either. We'll just let it go. Go get your vision test and your license and go home."

One of the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. But I wish I would have known that before studying for three hours. Seriously.


Barb said...

So, um, true confession time, right? I once accidentally let my driver's license lapse for, um, TWO YEARS. Bed rest and newborn and... well, I had to take the driving test as well as the written test. I was very relieved to have passed.

Nobody let me off but then again, it was a little longer than 24 hours.

steve said...

Just linked over from Tea N. Crumpet. Only in Iowa. I really doubt Indiana would be so kind to me, had I missed the deadline by one day. And Mitch Daniels, the crook, wants to privatize the drivers' license bureaus the way he did the Toll Road. If I should, in the future, get an Amtrak ticket clerk position in Galesburg, I may just do the long commute from Davenport in order to live in Iowa.

Yes, I did.

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