There's no such thing as Easy Street

I figured I might as well kick off NaBloPoMo by relating a lovely story that happened to me this week. Have I mentioned that I'm happy October is over? Cause I'm freaking THRILLED October is over. Thrilled! October was a very, very long month.

On Tuesday, for the second time in about as many weeks, I headed out to exchange my driver's license. Why the second time? Well, the first time I went to the SAAQ (that's what we call the DMV here in Quebec) I didn't check online and just went to the same SAAQ that I went to last time. It was a downtown location that was easy for me to find as once upon a time I lived in an apartment in the same building as it. So imagine my surprise when I got there and it was gone. Yes. Gone. They shut down the one location in downtown where you could exchange your drivers license. And to my knowledge there are no other locations in downtown where you can do even renew your drivers license. GOOD TIMES! (I have a little conspiracy theory going on that it's because downtown is too Anglo, but I digress.)

So I had to shuffle off home and call the info line and find out exactly where I could go. Basically my chooses were west to the middle of nowhere, north to the middle of nowhere and just plain the middle of nowhere. North won. Why? Well I figured if all else failed I could at least attempt to navigate by the north star. And also, Cat had been there and said it was easy to find.

So off I went. Getting there was simple enough. Hop on a metro, switch lines, get off metro, wait for bus. Chatted with Cat on cell phone while waiting for bus. Read part of my book while waiting for bus. After 25 minutes bus finally shows up.

A short bus ride commenced in which I happily did not miss my stop, in part thanks to a large sign on the road that said "SAAQ" with an arrow. Heh! Shockingly nice of them don't you think?

I walk across the parking lot noticing that several other people from my bus are doing the same thing. Briefly wonder if it's ironic that so many people take the bus to get a driver's license. I have to say that the location is actually quite nice for a government building. Much nicer than the place downtown was. But it's very much not downtown and therefore I hate it.

The security guard/reception person shuffles me off into line so I can get my number. The lady as the desk thankfully speaks English (Cat has told me that she didn't have a problem finding people to speak to her in English at this location, part of the real reason why I chose it). After asking me why I don't have an appointment to exchange my driver's licence (because I was told that it was less than three years and I don't need one) she gave me a number and I went to sit and wait and stare at signs and people while waiting for my number to come up.

Shockingly I only had to wait about 25 minutes for my number to be called. Unfortunately for 15 of those minutes a guy sat beside me with breath that could take out a small army.

I approach the counter cautiously, half expecting the woman not to be able to serve me in English and/or to get attitude for being English. Thankfully the woman was able to serve me in English and she did not give me attitude.

She was, however, a dingbat.

First of all, she asks me what I need and then why I don't have an appointment and again I say because it's been less than three years since I've had a Quebec driver's license and I was told I didn't need an appointment to exchange my Ontario license for a Quebec one. That's fine. I hand her my Ontario license and she plays on the computer for 5 minutes, mumbling under her breath in French.

She asks me about my PEI driver's license and I said I had that before I had a Quebec one. More clicking on the computer. More mumbling. A few minutes later she says, "But you never had a Quebec one."

"Um...yeah I did. Less than three years ago. Which is why I didn't need to make an appointment to exchange it. When I called in to the information line they were able to find me in the database."

She clicks some more, appears to make progress as she prints things off and makes me sign them. After about 5 minutes of me signing things and her clicking things she hands me a packet of stuff and tells me to go sit and wait for my number to be called for my picture.

"Um, don't I have to pay?"

Big mistake on my part there. Well, ok, not really. It was the right thing to do. But it caused me a big pain in the ass.

"Oh, yes! I forgot. I put down that you paid in cash."

She seems me holding my bank card.

"Um, I don't have have $80 in cash on me. I don't carry cash and you have these wonderful debit machines right here IN FRONT OF ME."

"You have no cash."


"Well, um, okay then. I'll have to cancel the transaction and start over again. I didn't ask. I'm sorry. I should have because I don't carry cash either."

Click. Mutter. Click, click, click.

"Ugh, I can't cancel the transaction. You will need to go a bank and get cash."

"Excuse me?"

"You need to go to a bank and get cash and then come back and pay."

I'm standing there thinking that she must be freaking kidding but nope, she was not.

"Um, where is the bank? I don't know this neighbourhood at all."

"I don't know," she says.


No. She wasn't.

So after about 5 minutes of bantering back and forth in which I get rather irritated I go off in search of a bank machine, with a little card that says I get to cut in line when I get back. At least 3 of those 5 minutes were me arguing that she had to give me back at least one of my photo IDs (she had both my license and my health card) before I left because I was NOT wandering around a strange-to-me neighbourhood without any ID on me.  She finally relented and off I went to find a bank.

No. I was not in a good mood at this point. And no, no one able to tell me where to find a bank machine.

After wandering around for 25 minutes I found a bank machine. Approximate a 5 minute walk from the metro station where I go on the effing bus to go to the damn SAAQ. It was great fun walking around a mostly deserted neighbourhood. I especially liked that when I did find a bank, the bank itself was closed either for renovation or because they were shutting down the branch and there was only a cash machine. And that while I was inside getting money there was a woman out on the corner hitting up all the men that went by on foot (barely any as the street was rather bare of pedestrians) or by car for either money or with offers to things in exchange for money.

Good times.

Then I had a 20 minute walk back to the SAAQ. Yes, I was still in a bad mood.

When I get back the dingbat lady has no one with her so I jump right in. I give her the damn money and then she takes me over to the photo lady and says that I'm to cut in line.

Photo lady asks me my address. I tell her. She says it's wrong. "Um, no it's not. I have it right here," and I hand her my phone bill.

On top of everything else the dingbat had gotten my address wrong. Considering the fact that I had provided her with my phone bill to look off rather than dictate it to her (seeing as she had already messed up my phone number when I dictated it to her and I had to correct her) I got rather annoyed.

Photo lady fixed everything. But of course that meant I had to sign a bunch more papers. Dingbat came back over something else and had it pointed out to her that she had messed up yet another thing. She said that I must be sick of her by this point. She was correct. I finally got my photo taken and left. Got a bus and a metro and then switched line swiftly. Grabbed lunch and then came home to actually do work, utterly exhausted.

But I should have know. You see, things started off way too easy. Nothing is easy. Easy is a figment of my imagination.

So, either I have seriously pissed of the gods and they are still punishing me, or I have a very sadistic muse who thinks I need help finding things to blog about. Cause lets look at October shall we - there was the incident with the superintendent, Piper escaping and "terrorizing" a neighbour while I got locked out my apartment while rescuing her (the cat, not the neighbour), and then punishment by dingbat.

I'm so happy October is over.