Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Licensed to drive

I have an Ontario driving license!

[Extended intermission for lengthy, if disappointingly choreographed, dance routine to be performed]

To my amazement, the response to my desperate inquiry revealed that while no road tests were being performed during the strike, a few select centres in Ontario were doing license exchanges. I was pointed towards a website which declared my nearest open test centre was about an hour's drive away and to be prepared for a very long wait, no guarantee of service and maybe swine 'flu. So, armed with a book, a laptop and a box of tissues, I headed off to the town next door to discover the queue ... was outside. Was it really so long that the whole waiting room had filled up before 10:30 am? Actually no... it transpired that this was a rather bizarre way of punishing people who were been served during the strike. We will see you .... but you have to stand outside in the Canadian early-winter looking through the windows at our heated, empty waiting room. Maybe the union found it upsetting they could not see all the frustration they were causing so decided to design an exhibit.

The wait was about an hour; allegedly I had picked a good day since I was told inside that the previous week had seen lines four to five hours long. Oddly, I did not have to sit a drive test (which is fortunate given the strike) or even a written one; I just had to relinquish one of my driving licenses (I hold both USA and UK). Since my US one was expired, I thought this was a good swap. Admittedly, it might have been better to offer up my British license since it had more years on it, but I also doubted the promise that I could switch my Canadian license back to a UK one when I left. "Mutual exchange" or not, I would not put it past my own country to make me sit their notoriously difficult drive test again just for the dry laughs that define my culture.

I left with a piece of dot-matrix paper in my wallet and a photo-card in the mail. Hurray!

I still need insurance. I called a few places and the results were ugly. Perhaps I could hire a good looking Chippendale driver instead.

Incidentally, my new phone can send photos it takes directly to an online scrap book attached to my account. I find that kinda clever.

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