Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lines, Red Tape, and Waiting

One big task that has somewhat consumed me since the wedding is going through the hassle nightmare headache task of legally changing my name. Don't get me wrong--I'm excited to be married, and I love that I'm a Liese (although I'll always be a Hladik in my heart. We all know this.) I love Thomas immensely. Most of all, this is what I want. Thomas has never forced me to take his name. I'm doing this all on my own accord. I just thought I'd throw all of these things out there before I went much further in this post. Now that we have established this, I'll proceed :)

I started my journey by forwarding my mail through the postal service. I have two parents who have worked/currently work in this field, so I had that down pat. Even better, they have streamlined the form to where you can do that completely online, and it is quite simple. Granted, I had to complete the form twice, since I have two names that I might receive mail under at this point, but it's okay.

Next, I went to the Social Security office to obtain my new card, as I couldn't do anything else without an amended SS card. I got there around 10 (they opened at 8 or 9, so not too late), and I realized that there would definitely be a wait. They have check-in kiosks that allow you to get in line and categorize you by what services you need. I received my number, and took a seat in a much smaller waiting room for people needing amended or replacement cards. I waited for about 30 minutes to an hour before my number was called. I scrambled to find my representative's window so that I didn't get passed up (one of my fears). I had all of my paperwork completed as I went in, which expedited my service. I left the office with paperwork verifying that I would be receiving a new card within the next 7-10 business days. On I went.

I came home and decided to see what I needed to do to get my car's registration transferred to Texas and to get a Texas driver's license. After looking at upwards of 5 webpages that all stemmed from the same site (which were equally confusing), I caved and called one of the numbers. The lady informed me that my first step would be to get my car inspected. No biggie...I went with Thomas to get his done, and that was a 10 minute process. I asked what documentation was needed for that. She was happy to report that all I needed was my insurance verification. I told her that I was moving from Oklahoma, and she stopped me, telling me that OK has lower minimum rates than TX, so I couldn't obtain a TX inspection until I had proof of TX auto insurance. Okay then...

She also informed me that I couldn't get a tag or update registration until I did my inspection. And I couldn't get my license until I got my car registered. So, by the Law of Syllogism, I couldn't get my license until I got TX car insurance. Ugh.

Getting car insurance with Thomas took a little bit of time, because we needed to do a little research. It baffles me how much some companies charge for literally the same coverage as other companies. That's all I'm going to say about that. Fast forward to last Wednesday, we finally had proof of insurance! I had a 30-day window of establishing residency to get my car registered, so we were starting to get to the eleventh hour, so to speak.

I was in a bit of a quandary as to what name I needed to register under (maiden v. married name). I found nothing online giving me a straight answer (although I did find a website that clearly laid out my course of action...which I immediately bookmarked!) I decided to call the fine folks at the vehicle registration office yet again. The first girl I spoke to was pleasant, but unsure on one of my questions, so she transferred me to a different lady, who was rather rude about my simple questions. I was informed that I would have to register my car under my maiden name, get my TX license, THEN come back and amend my registration to my married name. No, it didn't matter that I had a marriage license validating my name change. Ugh. (Truthfully, it was more the tone of voice she took with me than the information she gave me that upset me.)

Although I was frustrated, I went on to get my car inspected. I went to the same place Thomas always goes, even though there were plenty of places that were closer. I was happy just to be there and get it over with. The guy was very nice, and we had a good conversation about the ethnic origins of Hladik. He was interested to know that it was Czech, as he and his family emigrated from Bosnia, for many of the same reasons my ancestors left back in the late 1800s. He liked hearing about my family's journey to get to America and how they survived upon their arrival.

The next day, Thomas and I went to the vehicle registration office. That alone was almost a comedy of errors. He wasn't able to take off work early, so we had to improvise. There are 3 offices that can perform these services in our county of residence. Each office is designated to stay open until 7 PM one day per week. We had initially planned on going to a closer office, but since Thomas wasn't able to get off early, we opted to go to the office that stayed open late that day, which also happened to be the farthest away from our apartment. Wouldn't you know that it took Thomas almost double the time to get home that day. There were multiple wrecks along his route, which caused crazy traffic backups. He made it to our apartment at about 6 PM. (He's usually home around 5:40 or 5:45.) Not a big deal, but we still had a decent drive that was looking as though it'd take 30-40 minutes due to traffic. By a stroke of pure luck, we made it to the office at 6:45, so we had to be seen. Thomas attempted to get his vehicle title transferred to both of our names, but we were missing a couple of signatures, so no dice. In good news, we got my car's registration and tags that night! Our trip was good for something, after all!

So, at this point, I had successfully accomplished 3/4 of my big tasks. The last item on my list was obtaining a driver's license. I was blessed to have my first encounter with the DMV. (Sarcasm) I filled out all of my necessary paperwork beforehand, so I ended up at the local DMV around noon. There was a line of people outside, which should've been my first omen. I got in line, and a lady came through giving us the rundown on what documents we needed for our individual situations. It was at that point that I had the realization that I forgot my new SS card at home. So I left, retrieved my card, and returned. They mentioned that it'd be good to go through their online or phone system to set up an appointment time. I tried this multiple times, all to no avail. Nonetheless, I went back and took up my place in line. It looked as though I'd eventually get in, so no worries. I had brought a book, a snack, and a bottle of water. I was warm sitting outside, but it was in the shade, so I was safe from the threat of sunburn, if nothing else. The longer I sat there, the more my optimism diminished. A multitude of people came with appointments, and they were the only ones who would be guaranteed service that day. The DMV people informed us non-appointment people that despite what they told us earlier, they'd probably only get to one or two of us. This was after 1.5, almost 2 hours of waiting, so I cut my losses at that point and went home. It took me an hour to cool off (literally and figuratively) and eat something so that my monster headache would leave.

Since it was Friday, I had no choice but to wait until Monday. Not my first option, but I was determined to get it. At the advice of Thomas' family, I went to the mega-DMV on the SE edge of town. It was a decent hike to get over there. I should've known better when I woke up to what sounded like a monsoon outside my window. The news also announced that there was a huge traffic pileup along my planned route. I decided to cut my losses and get a slightly later start, if only for my sanity. I also took mostly surface streets to get there, and I was happy with my choice. Never let people bully you into thinking that expressways are the only way to traverse large cities. They might be quicker, but sometimes it's worth going a little slower to feel more comfortable and to get to know the area better. (That's my thought, at least.)

I went in and got my number (no lines!) I still wasn't able to schedule an appointment, so I waited it out. I decided that I had nothing to do and all day to do that, so I'd wait as long as I had to to make that happen. I had all of my documentation this time. (I triple-checked before leaving!) I ended up in a waiting area. My number was L4117, and when I sat down, they were at L4021. I was going to be there a while. The DMV codes each person just like the SS office does, as each letter code correlates to what type of service you needed. After sitting and adjusting to my surroundings, I sipped on my coffee. I had the foresight to buy a mobile battery charger that didn't need an outlet, which was good for a multitude of reasons. (The apparent lack of outlets being the first. Then again, that was probably a good thing, or else people would probably riot over outlet usage.) After a little bit of feeling out the people sitting next to me, I decided to strike up conversation with both of them. I mean, we were sitting RIGHT next to each other, and I had no one to accompany me. Why not? I made quick friends with each of them, and it was interesting to hear their respective stories. One lady was a recent immigrant from The Philippines. The other guy was a longtime Dallas resident. Each of them had a different perspective on various situations, but it was nice to talk to them. It slightly distracted us from the fact that we had been waiting for almost 4 hours. Sometime in hour 4, the lady's number was called, so she left. The guy and I talked sporadically for the next 1.5 hours, as he waited to be called. (His number was 10 ahead of mine.)

After both of them left, I didn't feel compelled to talk to my new neighbors. In fact, I felt restless. My knees were starting to cramp from sitting for so long. (We weren't allowed to walk around much. Since there were so many people, they insisted that we stay seated in our waiting area.) Finally, a lady announced that she'd be starting a line for people to come and have their documents checked to make sure that we had everything we needed for our specific request. I jumped at the opportunity to leave my seat. I witnessed a 19-year-old girl act belligerently towards the nice DMV lady, who was threatened with having a trooper escort her out of the building if she didn't leave. (She lacked her documentation requirements as it was.) That was an eye-opener. The DMV lady was happy to see that I had everything I needed, and thanked me for my preparedness. Meanwhile, it had been almost 30 minutes since I had heard my last "L" code called, which made me a little anxious, seeing as I was only 10 away from being seen. I sat again, and talked with another guy who originally came from California. He was shocked that I'd been there for 6 hours at that point. (I was too, personally.) Finally, I dug into some deep prayer that God would somehow make the "L" line move quicker, as I was getting VERY stir crazy. God must have taken pity on me, as I was called within 5 minutes of my frantic prayer.

I emerged victorious, a total of 6.5 hours after entering that wretched place. I left, hangry, restless, and emotionally drained. Thankfully, I left right before rush hour traffic cranked up. I made it home and collapsed on the couch...after scarfing down a sandwich.

My journey is nowhere near complete, as I still need to update my passport, bank accounts, and medical records, but I don't think any of those should be quite as labor intensive as this part has been.

My findings through all of this, first and foremost, is that a little research is your best friend. Look online for your answers, and if you can't find them, call. Wait on hold for 20 minutes if you have to, but find out before you go. It's so much easier than wasting a day just to find out that you don't have any of the correct paperwork/documentation. Not to mention that it saves you the additional heartache. It also keeps places from being bogged down just by wasting time figuring out that they can't do anything for you...just saying!

Furthermore, if you can fill out paperwork online and bring in the printed version, it'll save a TON of time. Those places appreciated preparedness, since all they deal with is people who can't get their stuff together to save their lives. When dealing with the people at these places, be assertive to ensure that you're getting what you need, but for goodness sake, don't cop an attitude with them! They are regular people just like the rest of us, and I know that I don't like when people are rude to me. They have to deal with people asking them the same questions over and over all day. (Also used to that one as a teacher...one of my biggest pet peeves!) They get worn down and ragged. Listen to what they have to say, as they're ultimately just trying to help you get in and out. But seriously, an attitude will get you nowhere, besides possibly escorted out by a trooper, like the girl I mentioned earlier.

The most valuable thing I've learned amid all of this is that there is power in talking to people. Most of us are so guilty (myself included) of hiding from that and burying ourselves in our devices. I heard an interesting homily last weekend in which my priest told us, "We have smart TVs, smart tablets, smart phones, even smart watches. Yet, here we are, becoming dumber. We look to our devices to solve our problems, but ultimately that power has to come from within us." Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with people around you. For me, it has shown me that most people really are good at heart. We have far more similarities than we do differences, which we'd know if we took the time to actually talk (and listen!) to people around us. We don't have to learn their life stories, but we can share a little bit. We should especially strive to talk to others whose culture, opinions, etc. differ from ours. There is power in good, civil face-to-face dialogue. It is affirming in many ways, and we all have something to learn from each other. I could actually go on and on about this very topic, but I'll spare you for now.

Onward I go on the path of changing my name!

1 comment:

  1. Yep, "adulting" stinks some of the time. I feel your pain, having been there, in all of those situations more than once. (Yes, you may have to rinse and repeat at some point. sorry.) On days like that one...or those...you might find yourself wondering what good all that education has done for you. Don't. You know what you know for a reason and sitting at the DMV is simply a detour meant to drive you stark raving mad. Now you can truly say you are in on all those DMV jokes you've been hearing all your life. Press on toward the upward of Christ...as the scripture says. Ha ha ha

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