Monday, July 7, 2008

BMV & Social Security: Part 1

For your convenience... I have split this entry into two e-mails. The story of BMV and Social security is lengthy. Also, you may opt out of these e-mails at any time. Just let me know.

I needed to find a state that would pay me to go to school and allow my broken old vehicle to be easily labeled as street legal. Thank You Indiana. My mission, should I choose to accept it:
1) Establish residency in Indiana (without living there a single day)
2) Get an Indiana Driver's License
3) Register my vehicle to make it street legal

BMV & Social Security…
            I love the smell of Social Security in the Morning. It makes me feel safe, like the fresh breeze of a New Deal is coming to make my Life easier now. Thanks Social Security.
            Or… is it?!?!?!?!?!?
             So I roll into my local neighborhood BMV in Lafayette, IN (Bureau of Motor Vehicles, for those NOT in Indiana) with a quest, a purpose, a point to my visit (a purpose greater than the free public bathrooms which I guess are in all BMVs in Lafeyette and I'm assuming in Indiana. So… just in case you're in Indiana really jonesin' for a restroom…). The point, purpose and veritable plan for my visit was as follows:
  • Get Indiana Driver's License
  • Get Street Illegal Jeep, Legally registered in Indiana
 US States like paperwork and furthermore require some 'proof' that you reside in that state before handing out government issued identification. Damned Socialists!!! (I know that's not actually a mean thing to say… but you gotta work with me. I grew up in Texas and just moved out of Massachusetts. I'm a little politically confused.)

Establishing Residency…
I did a little research and found out that one can legally assert residency in Indiana through a notarized affidavit. This affidavit is found on the Indiana State Government Website. The bottom of the affidavit warns fiscal tricksters that should this form be used to incorrectly assert residency and claim as such on University Tuition Assessment Forms then all money owed due to incorrect residency status must be paid to the school. Of course… but why would anyone else seek to claim residency in Indiana if not for lowered tuition? Vehicle Registration.
Of all tasks on my trip… the easiest thing to do was establish valid residency in Indiana. With a copy of a signed lease it took less than 5 minutes
 My Jeep Cherokee ('96, straight 6, 4.0 liter, 4WD, all badass) fell from the good graces of Massachusetts (the Commonwealth that punishes you for owning a vehicle). At some point in the life of all Jeep Cherokees a few things happen: The front brakes die 85,000 times in 10 years and your exhaust manifold gets a hole in it. Massachusetts vehicle inspection doesn't like this. Indiana Vehicle Inspection exists? It does, but only around the smokey, chemical pits of Gary, Indiana. In fact… the Indiana BMV motto clearly reads: "Register with us your tired, your poor, and your broken exhausts yearning to breathe free." Because this exhaust manifold problem on the Jeep was so costly… I let it slide a little bit.
It is still sliding this very moment.

 Social Security Saves the Day…
It's against the law to alter, modify or destroy your social security card. You can't even laminate them. So you try to keep these cards safe from harm while remembering where you've put them so long ago. In the many times I've told this story to others they often reply that they can't even remember where their Social Security cards are. Do you know where yours is? I needed the card because the state asks for it in order to register vehicle and get license.After some quick research on I found exactly what I need to get a driver's license and vehicle registration.
-         Social Security Card (or similar letter from Social Security)
-         State Issued Identification (Passport or Driver's License)
-         Birth Certificate
-         Proof of Residency (see above)
-         Title of Vehicle (vehicle registration only)
-         Proof of Insurance (vehicle registration only)
I find a BMV office conveniently located next to City Hall and stroll in. I make my first attempt and am immediately shooed away for having no Social Security card. Fine. But let me tell you about these BMV offices in Lafayette and West Lafayette. Walking into the BMV here is a civilian's dream. I walked in and before I reached the end of my walk to the front desk, a public servant at one of the desks waved me over to her area and asked how she may help me… Did you get that?!? I was in the BMV office for about 60 seconds when someone waved me down and asked if they could help me. OMG… if only the story ended there. I did encounter a rough patch on my first visit to the BMV. I suspected the signed affidavit of residency might prove to be a little tricky. The first woman to see me looked through my paperwork and said that they can't take this as proof. I told her I printed it from the state's website. She said they can take no papers with handwriting on them. I showed her the notary's signature and the raised seal… from right across the street. She balked. I persisted. She balked more. I persisted more. She then went to ask her supervisors just to make sure she couldn't take it. They all, three of them at once, said "of course we can. It's been notarized." "But it has handwriting. We can't take handwritten documents." C'mon lady… are you trying to impede my legal claim of residency and thereby impeding a legal resident of your state from obtaining required legal documents? "Of course we can take it. It's been notarized." Victory was mine! Take That lowly minion!!! I'll return with my social security card and get all that I want!!!
            Of course… this is a story about bureaucracies and the house always wins. I strolled in for my second visit… WITH my social security card. And as happened the next woman to see me (also in record time upon my arrival. I see now a trick of false hope this speedy assistance creates) balked immediately at my rightful claim to residency in the state of Indiana. We informed her it was legal and that just the day before it had been approved. "By who?" "By those three!" Ms. Farrell was standing, near falling over the counter, pointing at the very trifecta that approved the same form yesterday. Good. Approval arrives and the paperwork making may continue.
            "What's your middle name sir?"
            "Duncan." Odd… it's right there on my social security card.
            "That's not what it says on your social security card."
             BAM!!! There in plain view is my social security card. "Andrew Dunlan Britton." ?!?!?! I looked closely and said, inwardly panicked and outwardly cool. "It must have scratched off."
            "It doesn't look like it."
            "Then it must be a typo."
            "Well sir, either way I can't accept it."
BAM!!!!! Another boulder of bureaucratic fists hits me in the spiritual solar plexus of Fate and Time. I am Andrew's baffled sensibilities and crumbling hopes. Of course, the next logical argument to further my cause is born from my mouth canal…
            "I'm sorry. Are you serious?" Yes! Logic prevails. Debate at its highest form. Question the seriousness of the opposition and doors open like seas to Moses.
            "Yes. I'm serious." Damn. Her Kung-Fu is strong. I take my papers and walk out leaving a wake of quiet fury and a singular expletive: "Yay! I'm so happy!"
I couldn't believe it. 15 – 20 years of owning my Social Security card and this is the First time I've ever seen: Andrew Dunlan Britton. It used to read Andrew Duncan Britton. I guess the sharp corners of the 'C' faded out over time and became an 'L.' It was recommended to me that I visit the local Social Security office where I can file the appropriate paperwork and return with proof.
            "But you'll have to do it tomorrow, the Social Security office may be closed already."

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