Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Meg has gently commanded that I write a new post and herewith I concede. Her command might have something to do with a fair and much loved tradition at Boalt: Fall Break. Each year 2Ls and 3Ls fly to LA, NY, CHI, etc., the third week of September for interviews with white-shoe firms and other similarly noble institutions, such as Mexican drug cartels and blood diamond traffickers. With 66% of the student body elsewhere, the law school, including lowly 1Lset, takes a week off from classes.



But it's not all beer and skittles, despite my best efforts. For instance, it also involves Cool Ranch Doritos.

Today I made the mistakeof trying to make myself right with the state of California, in particular, its Department of Motorized Vehicles. The primary purpose was to get a California license, which in theory should not trouble a grown, educated man. Theories, however, cannot prepare a human for the reality that is the California public sector. For example, instead of simply showing up, filling out a form, and handing over a wad of cash in exchange for a driver's license, the state of California makes you take a written driving test.

I haven't thought about rules oftheroad in twelve years, and it smacks me as practically sarcastic that California, of all places, should expect its new drivers to abide by the vehicle code when one of every one California drivers is certifiably homicidal.

Here's a question most Cal drivers would fail:

Question 1: At a four-way stop, if you arrive at the same time as someone else, you should:

A. Continue trying to find your Chihuahua, Fredo, at the bottom of your purse.
B. Ask your mom, because you're talking on the phone with her anyway.
C. Gently skid through the intersection while blogging from your iPhone.

Hence, with much umbrage, I dedicated myself to studying the Driver's Manual, driven on by the fear of having to explain to people that I was admitted to Boalt but cannot seem to pass the California DMV written test.

The DMV is open only five days a week, so in true Perdue fashion I woke at dawn, walked two miles down the hill, took the first bus to El Cerrito, and walked another half mile down to the lovely DMV complex located just a hair's breadth from the wonderful town of Richmond (Town Motto: "Broad daylight is no excuse for not committing a property crime.") Wary of walking into a Tupac Shakur video, I made sure to walk along the main road and assume the pose of the most fearsome thing I could imagine:

The whole point of going so early was that I wanted to avoid Pandemonium. I figured that the costs of waking early, arranging for transportation, and waiting outside in the morning chill would weed out upwards of 90% of the set of people in need of DMV services. I was actually feeling pretty confident until I turned the corner and saw this:

Not really.

But still: About 100 people wrapped around the building. Crestfallen I took a humble spot at the very back and decided, hey, I have the day off. No rush. So I walked two miles? No biggie. I'll recover here in this line with these fine people. The line started moving, and we were all feeling good. Not ten minutes went by, and we were inside the warm DMV building, which ended up being much larger than I anticipated. Finally, I made it to the front of the line. A nice, friendly lady beckoned me.

"Birth certificate?" she asked as she handed me a form.


"You have a birth certificate or passport?"

"No, I have my old license."

"We need a birth certificate or passport. Old license won't do."

"What am I, running for president?" is what I wanted to say. What I ended up saying was: "Oh, thanks. I'll remember next time."

I ran outside and took a moment for some manly reflection:

Then I went home. All two miles of walking uphill and waiting a bus. Tomorrow? I go again. This time I'm bringing everything I own.

That's by far the most productive I've been all week.


She's a saint, the genuine article. She works around the clock to help little children love music, and she comes home with enough energy to laugh at my lame jokes and tend to serious issues of the day, such as deciding whether I need a haircut. I'm not sure the world of elementary school music deserves her. I'm not sure anyone does.

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