Six States and Counting

Prominent roads and cities in Massachusetts.
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Today I got my Massachusetts driver’s license. From the time I began driving until today, I’ve had licenses in Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, California, Utah, and Massachusetts.

I’ve visited DMVs, BMVs, and RMVs.

I’ve waited for hours and hours (California) to get my license and registration, and I’ve not waited at all (Utah and Massachusetts).

I’ve been spoken to rudely by the staff (California and Ohio), and I’ve been treated very kindly and in an extremely friendly and attentive manner (Utah and Massachusetts).

I’ve taken written tests in five states (Massachusetts didn’t require one), eye tests in all six, and a road test in one.

I’ve registered to vote at the motor vehicle registry in five states (consecutively, not concurrently) and with three different parties (if you consider “unaffiliated” a party).

Of these six states, my favorite places to get a license are Utah and Massachusetts. Both have their quirks. Utah made sure I knew how long military personal with Utah residency could maintain their Utah driver’s license after they’ve left the service. Massachusetts doesn’t have proof-of-insurance cards (and doesn’t require insurance to get a driver’s license), and I had to get my insurance company to send a stamped registration form to get my plates. But both the Salt Lake City DMV and the Worcester RMV branches were very friendly and accommodating.

I don’t know why exactly, but I’m very nervous when dealing with government agencies. I’ve not done my own taxes since 1998 (I’ve had them done, they’ve just not been done by me), simply because I get way too anxious that I’m going to inadvertently fill out something incorrectly.

I’d done tons of research about the license and registration process in Massachusetts before my husband and I left the kids with my mom and went to the office today. Still, I had pit stains before we even walked into the building because I was so nervous I was sweating more than usual.

Luckily, the wait was not the two hours plus as I’d been led to expect. In fact, we didn’t even have a chance to sit down before our numbers were called.

Luckily, too, the woman who helped us was extraordinarily friendly. The other agents kept coming to her for help with their customers, too, which delayed us a bit, but after our nonexistent wait time, we felt like we were way ahead of schedule. In addition, it was quite pleasant to see such a collaborative spirit among the agents there.

In California, the staff seemed to talk with each other a lot, but it seemed to be more of an “agents versus customers” brand of collaboration than it was a “let’s try to put our heads together and figure out a complicated issue” kind of collaboration. (Not to bad-mouth California. The branch we were at was ridiculously busy, with lines out the door even for those with appointments who were just trying to check in at their assigned appointment times. With as overworked as the staff were, I can see how they might develop an adversarial attitude. And there was one agent there who was very helpful and friendly to us. Well, to my husband. I got the agent who talked loudly and unflatteringly to another agent about me while I was standing right there at the counter).

Long story short, I was surprised to find that I actively enjoyed my RMV experience this afternoon, and I made a point of telling the agent just how much I appreciated her friendliness. What’s even more surprising is that I enjoyed it even though I left there more than $300 lighter than when I went in.

I hope it’s at least several years before I need to add a seventh state to the list. If I do get a seventh, I wonder where it will be…

2 Replies to “Six States and Counting”

  1. I did not change my Virginia license and car registration when I lived in Orlando for 8 years (I did have a Florida motorcycle license). I couldn’t pull the same stunt here in New Hampshire, unfortunately.

    I was able to get a new Social Security card, register my car, and get a New Hampshire license in just over an hour. Unbelievable! I think I spent 2.5 hours in the Springfield, VA DMV office to get a replacement driver’s license.

    The only downside to this story is that New Hampshire does not immediately issue the official card. I have been carrying around a paper copy that looks like a xerox copy.


    1. Massachusetts doesn’t issue the official card immediately, either. I’ve got the temp card stock dealy in my wallet now. I think the only states I’ve been to that have the official card immediately are North Carolina and Virginia (although Virginia was my first DL, so perhaps that made it faster and I’m just remembering it as immediate). I did manage to get my MA inspection yesterday, which is nice. I’m not sure how they tested the horn without honking it (it does honk, they just didn’t try it), but they sold me my inspection sticker, so I suppose that’s the important part.


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