As some of you may know, I haven’t had much luck in passing my motorcycle skills exam. In fact, I’ve failed it twice (and you can read the reasons why both here and here).
But today was different. I knew I was going to pass it and with flying colors. Or so I thought.
I took some time off of work to squeeze in my DMV appointment and still managed to get in some hours once I was done. And you know what? Even though I had a scheduled an appointment well in advance and only had to take a simple skills test, I accomplished absolutely nothing during my visit.
Here’s how it all went down.
But first, this. Now that I’m on two wheels, parking at the DMV isn’t as bad as it used to be. There are designated areas for motorcycles and more often than not, they are empty. And now that the other local office is going under refurbishment, the traffic at this particular location is ridiculous – if you’re in a car. As for me, I whiz right by the lines of cars waiting for parking spaces and pull into the motorcycle spot. It’s like nobody is there.
That’s until you get inside.
Anyway, once inside, I was directed to Window 30 since I already had my appointment scheduled. When I finally got helped, it started off rather painless. I told the clerk why I was there and handed him the necessary documents: my permit, registration, and proof of insurance. Simple. I’d be done in to time.
But then things hit a snag.
The clerk was carefully inspecting my proof of insurance and registration. Just when I was about to ask if there was anything wrong, he spoke up.
“Do you have any other documentation on your bike,” he asked. Why would I? What more could you possibly need or, in this case, what more would I need to carry on my bike in the event I ever needed any of it?
“No, I don’t. Why?”
He took off his glasses.
“Look at the VIN on both of these. They don’t match.”
I grabbed them both and, using those keen proofreading skills that got me out of that grocery store job, read them both. They matched until I got to the last six digits.
“…oooh. I see,” I said. The VIN on the registration was correct. The insurance? Although the make and model matched mine, the numbers didn’t. He then spoke again and, considering I’d taken some time off work to get this crap done, gave me news I really didn’t need to hear.
“Unfortunately, I can’t let you take the exam if these don’t match.”
But I can see his point. Technically, I had no insurance on the bike which obviously doesn’t go over well with them and at this point, I started to feel like one of those seedy people I see waiting at the DMV because it was almost like I was trying to pull a fast one over on him.
Okay, I get that. But wait. Remember I said that this would have been my third time taking the exam? I thought about this after he told me I couldn’t proceed. I got a *little* bit agitated once I figured things out.
“So wait. You mean to tell me that I took the exam twice already with the same documentation and nobody noticed anything?”
It’s obvious that the previous two clerks who let me take the exam weren’t exactly dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from those who work at the DMV (much like the USPS or any other government agency).
The clerk began to apologize as I tried to remain calm.
“And I can’t check anything right now because our computer system is down,” he said. Hey, now there’s a total surprise – their system was down. “But if you want to wait about 15 minutes…”
I’d had enough – and was annoyed. “No, I don’t. I already wasted a day of work. I expected to get something done today but I guess not.”
He handed me my registration and insurance card and I began to walk away, but not before he called me back to tell me I had forgotten my permit.
At that point, I almost told him to keep the damn thing. But I’ll get to that later.
So I gave Ann a call once I left the building and told her to double-check everything with Big Insurance Provider to make sure it’s kosher. (Since the annual premium on the scooter is so cheap, we pay it in full.)
After I hung up with Ann, my mind started going again and I thought of two more things. First, if I had been riding since July 2014 and never changed any of the information on my insurance, it seems to me that the premium we paid was going toward covering some else’s scooter. Right? This sure wasn’t my VIN on there but when entered on the Big Insurance Provider’s website, it comes up as the same make and model as mine. Really weird. I guess we didn’t think twice about it and could be partially to blame for this whole mess.
That, or Big Insurance Provider screwed up. I’ll go with that.
Second, being I had the wrong number on there, I had technically been riding all this time without insurance. But hey, at least I was permitted, right?
Once I got home, there was an email waiting for me from our provider with my new insurance card attached – the one with the correct information that I had relayed to Ann while I was still at the DMV. I printed it out, stuck it under my seat, and rode to work.
So now, after all that, I have to schedule yet another appointment to take the exam and hope that I pass it just so the state can add two little digits onto my existing license: M1.
Now, about the dismissal of my permit at the DMV. I have been in the market for a new bike for some time now and have gone to a few different dealers. I struck up a conversation with a salesman at the last one I visited on Monday regarding all the BS you need to go through to take the exam and its overall difficulty.
“A buddy of mine rode for nearly 40 years without an M1 license before he finally took the exam. And he didn’t pass it,” he told me.
At my current age of 46, I don’t intend to be riding (or for that matter, still breathing) when I’m 86. But considering what a mess this whole examination process has become, riding without the endorsement is beginning to sound like a good idea.
After all, this dude did it for almost 40 years. And that would mean one less DMV visit I’d have to make.