I had the opportunity to visit the DMV this week to take my motorcycle driver’s test and obtain my permit. What an altogether interesting experience.

I originally had gone to the DMV License Center to take the test last Thursday when they had extended hours. I wasn’t trying to make use of the extended hours, I just got there late. Nonetheless, they stop administering tests at 4pm, which they didn’t mention on their web site anywhere. What a waste of a drive.

Anyway, I got to the DMV around 10:30 on Wednesday. The web site says that they are least busy between 9 and 11, so it seemed like a fortuitous arrival time. I guess it seemed this way to the dozens of other people who showed up at this time, too.

There was some doddering old guy with a walker in front of me in line for the ticket dispensing machine. You push a button, it spits out a ticket with a number, you go when your number is called. I guess he couldn’t figure this out because he just stood in front of the thing backing up the line. I’m not so much complaining about the old man here, as the long line of people he helped form behind me.

When he finally moved, I stepped up to the machine and pushed the B button. It made some noise, and I could see my ticket getting wedged up under the machine’s cover rather than coming out where I could grab it. I had to pull apart the machine and re-thread the paper tape, then tear off my ticket, all with 15 people standing behind me waiting. Strangely, this proved to be to my great disadvantage.

It took me a few seconds to orient myself with my ticket in hand, and by that time, several other people successfully used the ticket machine that I had fixed. By the time I identified my ticket number and located the LED board, all of the time that I had wasted fixing the ticket machine had caused them to skip my number. It must have come up immediately when I pushed the button, and when I didn’t immediately show up (because I was fixing the machine), they went on to the next number, probably the guy directly behind me in line.

So if not for the doddering old guy and the wonky machine, I wouldn’t have had to sit at the DMV for two hours while they sorted out license issues for this guy’s mail-order Russian bride. Seriously, the paperwork you are required to bring with you is posted everywhere. This is not to say it’s very organized, but if you can buy your wife over the internet, then you can probably get the required paperwork list for her to obtain a driver’s license when you unpack her from the crate.

Also, what’s the deal with the check or money order only? The DMV does not take cash. I assume it’s because they’re not trustworthy. Still, I can’t imagine a system where people are trustworthy enough to issue permits for people to wield two-ton killing machines, but not take $10 in cash payment for the permit. Unreal.

So, there’s the silver lining in my ticket delay, since I only had cash and credit, I had to run over to the grocery store (there’s a tip for you – grocery stores usually sell money orders cheap) and grab a money order for my $10 test and permit.

So I finally took the test. They administer the test in a small section in the back on computerized testing machines. The test is really simple. There are 20 questions, and you have to get 16 right to pass. I did get one question wrong, but only because the DMV tests have an odd way of phrasing things.

This question I got wrong was one of those questions like “Choose the best option when some event happens.” And then they give you a list of things that are all something you’re supposed to do in that situation. One of these types (although this isn’t the question I got wrong - I don’t remember exactly) of questions would be to choose the bast thing to do when one of your motorcycle tires goes flat. Well, clearly pulling off the road to a stop to inspect the problem is a good idea. But applying the breaks is also on the list. As it throttling down. Sometimes they want you to answer what the first thing you should do is, and sometimes it’s unclear what exactly they’re asking. Anyway, that’s the only one I got wrong.

The machine cut me off when I answered my 16th question correctly, and after an hour of waiting for the tall blonde heavily-accented lady with the Russian passport to finish her tirade about paperwork, I was able to walk out with my permit.

It was interesting sitting with all of the nervous teenagers taking their first driving test in the waiting area. The last-minute cram review before the test seems so silly when looking back on my first driver’s test. I was so paranoid about not having to take the test more than once.

But not this time. I took some practice tests online, and that was basically the entirety of my test preparation. Confidence is a good thing.

In the end, mission accomplished. Now I’ve got to find a bike to practice and decide if I want to take the driving test at the DMV or do the free training course that the state offers. The training course seems like a good idea since it’s free and ends in you receiving your license. Plus it would be good to have real, hands-on instruction.