Tales of the unexpected

posted 19 March 2008

You know those nasty dreams you sometimes have, where you suddenly find out you have an exam in 10 minutes that you completely forgot about, and you go crazy with panic? Well, that was sort of like my day.

Backtrack a bit: a couple of weeks ago, as twitter informed keen readers, I went to the dentist for the first time in a while. This resulted in a ton of work, including a temporary crown last week.

Also last week, I decided to finally follow up on my new year's resolution to get a driving licence. This involved calling the California DMV and making an appointment to apply for the licence. I decided to be clever and schedule the appointment for the same day as one of my dentist visits. Going to the dentist involves me working from home a day anyway, because the dentist is in San Francisco, and until I can drive, there's no practical way for me to get to the office in Sunnyvale if I miss the morning shuttle, so it seemed a more efficient use of my time.

The DMV has a telephone system that is supposed to allow you to book appointments. However, what I didn't realise is that this system only lets you book the next available appointment, not just an arbitrary date. So I went through the system and accidentally booked the next available date, which happened to be Tuesday 18th. I tried to cancel it, but the system is poorly designed and you can't cancel phone bookings. So I had resigned myself to missing it.

Then, this weekend, my temporary crown shattered when it hit an unexpected almond in a piece of chocolate. This meant an emergency trip to the dentist today, and working from home again. After I left the dentist at about mid-day, it occurred to me that my phantom DMV appointment had been sometime around today, so I called again and discovered yes, it was today at 3pm -- I could make it after all, yay! Oh, and yes, licence application includes taking the written exam.

Wait, what?!

So now I suddenly had a driving test to pass -- in a little over 2 hours. Aaah! I began to noisily panic, resulting in the wonderful MW pointing me to a page from a couple of brits on passing the California driving test, including two practice tests. Score!

The DMV was -- if you are used to Trinidadian bureaucracy -- a model of polite efficiency. I was in and out in half an hour, passed the test (with a perfect score, underlining the superfluity of my earlier panic) and, as a bonus, discovered that I could simultaneously apply for an ID card -- so in two to six weeks, my days of carrying around my kerr-aaazy Trinidadian passport to confuse doormen across San Francisco will be over.

And I might even get around to learning how to drive.

P.S. This post also demonstrates pretty effectively why my "what I did today" posts to this blog have pretty much evaporated -- twitter is a pretty accurate daily log of everything I do. I quite like the separation; it means the blog is more concentrated on content of reasonably lasting value.

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