(in many fewer words, with much less swearing, than I would have used had I had internet access when I first left the god-forsaken place)
Annie recently wrote about getting her NJ driver's license renewed, and now here I am to add my own complaints. And you can be sure I'm filing an official complaint with them, too.
I got to the DMV about 1pm, a specific time I had determined would be less busy that either right after they opened or right before they closed. I had just about every legal document you can think of on me, and specific instructions from several people who had recently gone through their hoops, so I knew exactly what to expect, what to bring, where to stand, not to use my cell phone, etc etc.
I walked in and immediately stood at the "receptionist" line. When it was my turn, I handed over all my documents, and the woman immediately agreed that I had the required "6 points" to validate my identity. Then she noticed that I had filled in my form with my name, but my driver's license has my last name differently. I explained that it's been wrong since they first gave me one almost 10 years ago, that they put my mother's maiden name hyphenated with my dad's last name, but I never bothered to fix it. I was hoping to do that today. No problem, she says, since she can see I have ID to back this up. She send me to the next checker.
At this counter, a 2nd woman looks through all my info. She checks everything, gives me a slip of paper with the number 89 on it, and send me to yet another line.
At this 3rd line, the woman waiting at the counter, the only person in line in front of me, is having a problem. Apparently she has a passport with her maiden name, a driver's license with her married name, and divorce papers saying she's going back to her maiden name. I wait. And wait. And WAIT. (During this wait, an older gentleman gets his photo taken nearby, and complains that "even when I joined the Marine's we didn't have to go through so many hoops.")
Eventually the woman is sent away, because she didn't bring her birth certificate or her naturalization paper, so of course they won't change her name to her maiden name (nevermind the US passport or the court settlement papers). I breathe a quiet sigh of relief, because I brought BOTH my (translated into English) birth certificate AND naturalization paper.
After she leaves, it's my turn. A clerk comes up to me and takes my stuff, goes behind the counter and makes some copies and some phone calls. She comes back and asks me why my name is different, I tell her that I should have a First, Middle, and (one-word) Last Name, and that my NJ driver's license is the ONLY document I've EVER had that listed my name that way. She asks to see my birth certificate, I show it to her (it does have all 4 names on it to show parentage, but it's clear that my last name is one-word only and the other name is my mother's maiden name). She says ok and sends me to ANOTHER LINE, where yet ANOTHER woman checks my paperwork.
THIS woman, after 3 others have approved everything, tells me that the NJ DMV cannot change my driver's license name unless I have a form that shows I legally changed my name. I explain to her that I didn't legally change my name, that my mother's maiden name wasn't supposed to be on there AT ALL in the first place, and I have 3 forms of federally-issued ID (Naturalization, US Passport, and Social Security Card) all which state my name CORRECTLY. I explain that the NJ license is the ONLY document that has my name that way, so clearly I can't have something else saying I changed my name from that to my ACTUAL name, since I've only ever had my ACTUAL name as far as anyone BESIDES the DMV is concerned.
She very calmly explains to me that obviously, I'm wrong. That when I went through naturalization, I must have applied for a name change to drop my mother's maiden name out of my name. She tells me that this is common, and that there is a second form that they staple to the naturalization paper which shows the name change. She points to two holes in a corner of my paper, showing me "where the form was." She wants to know what I did with it.
THERE NEVER WAS SUCH A FORM. I insist, beg, and almost start crying, because by this point it's been over an hour, 3 people checked me and said fine, and now this person's saying I need yet another form. I have THREE federally-issued form with my name on it, but she insists I need another form on the back of one form to tell her that the name ON the form is really my name!! Even though it was the DMV's mistake in the first place that caused my name to be wrong in their document, while it's correct EVERYWHERE else!!
She tells me I have to go back to naturalization and get that form. I try to reason with her, explain that it's the DMV's mistake, she won't budge. So I say fine, keep the wrong name, I don't care, it's been wrong for 10 years anyway! They tell me I can't have a renewed license with the wrong name, because I can't prove that name with the forms I brought to prove my identity, since those forms have my correct name!
By this point I am so frustrated that I actually cry a little, yell a LOT, and storm out of there. I got right in my car and drove straight to the naturalization office in Newark. I get there and explain my story, am told to go to the federal courthouse.
When I get to the courthouse, it's only 15 minutes before the clerk's office closes (gov't offices close at 4, only us poor slobs who work in REAL jobs have to work until 5 or later, apparently). I speak to a very nice woman who tells me that if naturalization can get back to her within the next 10 minutes, she'll write me a letter saying that my name is actually the name on my documents. She goes to her office, I wait. A few minutes later she comes out to show me the fax from naturalization, which shows that there was NOT, in fact, any name change form filled out with my application. The naturalization people simply took the name I wrote on the application, and that was it. They had no record of a "name change."
That, of course, is exactly what I had told the stupid, lazy, worthless worker at the DMV. THERE NEVER WAS SUCH A FORM!
I explain my problem to the woman in the clerk's office, and she tells me she sees people almost every day who have this problem. Apparently the NJ DMV's office is infamous for this sort of thing, she's even seen people whose license had a misspelling in it that were turned away and had to get official "forms" saying their names were changed.
At the end of this sad, frustrating story, I went home without a license. I now have to fax my old passport and any other documents I can find to the clerk's office, who will, for a $9.00 fee, write a letter saying that my 4-word name was changed to my 3-word name. All so that the NJ DMV can renew my stupid license. THEN I can go BACK to the DMV on my next day off, stand in 4 lines AGAIN, and show that that, in fact, THERE WAS NEVER A FORM!
It's enough to make me want to move to a different state.