Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So wrong it's right..?! Yankee madness

Sometimes the flaws in the system make my head hurt. Excuse me for this slightly verbose and serious posting.

What am I talking about? Some things in the US are stellar, but when it gets it wrong, there ain't no half-steppin'! Witness the medical mis-system (where the admin costs more than the treatment or where the same prescription costs more at Ralphs than it does at Costco?!) But my complaint stems from the disparities of the federal vs. state administration systems.

To drive is to work? Let me share a recent idiotic conversation I had at the infamous Dept. of Motor Vehicles, aka the DMV. Here in Cali your driving license expires every few years. Mine expired on my birthday. No biggie you'd think, but actually since the US recognizes the driving license as a form of identification, as well as a sign of your ability to drive a car, it's treated with extra vigilance. Why's a driving license used this way I'm not sure, but heck, what do I know...I'm just a foreigner! :)

Anyway, because of the license's multiple uses I have to prove my status in the US. What status? Well, my ability to work here legally. Hmmm...that officially expired two months earlier than my visit to the DMV! Oops, but a renewal's* been filed so it's fine! But, the USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Service) are so backed up that something that should've been renewed in 2 months took over 5 months! So I was in this illogical loop: No word on my work visa = no driving license. And to drive is to live in Cali. No car kindameans you're f*&ked!

Stevio: "What does working have to do with driving?" I asked innocently.
Stevio: "Can I get a temporary license whilst my case is pending?" I continued.

Negotiation 101 Those questions didn't compute with the DMV lady so I tried some Stevio charm.

Stevio: "Why is the system so broken?"
DMV lady did have a retort for that: "it's not broken...USCIS is federal and DMV is state..."
Stevio thinks: "Huh? Say what? So what? SHUT UP lady!"

I tried to start a new line of logic*.
Stevio: "The federal USCIS says I'm legal to work for 240 days after filing my renewal, so I'm actually legal to work and here's a print out of my receipt..."
DMV lady asked: "Where's your card?"
Stevio: "What card? I've never had a card...I've got an authorisation in my passport."
DMV lady: "You need your work status approval..."

Let's try reseting the conversation.
Stevio:"What happens if the police ask for my license and it's expired?", I pleaded, hoping I might get through to the sensible side of the brain of this public servant.
DMV lady: "Your car gets towed...," that was a lie, proving she is a dimwit, dumb ass!

Lady, SHUT UP. If you're not sorting out your inadequate, poorly-designed crap system you're part of the problem! My last word on this topic is I wonder why fools don't read the back of the driving license:

"This license is issued as a license to drive a motor vehicle; it does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits." It's truly ironic that people don't stick to what the license was designed for, yet get all paranoid about the multiple uses it's been empowered with. Yankee madness report over!

My advice There's no way to beat the system head on. Just drive safely, keep your UK license handy and if you're sneaky like me and are bored of waiting for the system to fix itself, just file for a renewal in the mail and wait for 2 weeks and it'll arrive in the post. Like I said, the system is broken ;)

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Anonymous Denise said...

Ouch! I sympathize, especially after dealing with the notoriously inept DC DMV for 6 years. Alas, you don't even have to be a furriner to get beaten up by the system: my wallet was stolen at a bar once in DC, but after waiting in line for two hours at the DMV I was told that I had to have a police report in order to replace my license, and then had to trek around town to four -FOUR- different police stations before I could find a cop willing to fill out a report for such a small potatoes crime with clearly no hope of ever being investigated, much less solved. And I had to beg the guy at the last station to just fill out any old report for me. Luckily in CO the DMV experience is very low-fuss, but I don't think that's the norm. And you're right, the work/drive connection is inane.

4:31 PM  

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