John just wrote about his driving test experience, and he inspired me to describe my most recent experience with the Israeli Motor Vehicle Bureau. I can only thank Prozac for giving me the strength to change what I can, the equanimity to ignore what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
An Israeli drivers' license expires on the driver's birthday. As you may know, I had a birthday in April. And I am over 65 (although this blogthings quiz says i'm 26). In Israel that means I must submit both a medical and optometry report to the Motor Vehicle Bureau before my driver's license can be renewed. The Motor Vehicle Bureau very kindly mails the form for this medical and optometry report about six months ahead of time, giving one ample time to visit the family doctor and the eye doctor, or, in my case, to lose the form.
Having set forth to the family doctor one day in February with the intention of getting blood pressure and osteoporosis prescriptions renewed, I actually remembered to bring along the form. However, when I arrived at his office, I discovered it was lost with no chance of retrieval. See, my doctor's office is nearby, and I can stop in there while I'm walking my dog (I love a dog-friendly doctor's office. After all, dogs bring their humans to the vet's office, so it's only fair). And I am a good citizen dog-owner, so I always scoop the poop. Somehow the medical form must have got thrown away during this operation.
The thought of birthdays was on my mind: I realized that I would be traveling abroad for my brother's birthday on March 1. If I waited to get a replacement form after my return, there might not be time to do all the fillings-out and mailings before my drivers' license expired, on April 7. I decided to call the Motor Vehicle Bureau to request a replacement form.
Alas! The phone number for the Motor Vehicle Bureau is not listed in the residential phone book, of course, and also not listed in the Yellow pages, which is for business establishments. My Hebrew skills stop at those two references. However, I did remember the organization MEMSI, which is the Israeli equivalent of the AAA. And their phone number was listed in the Yellow pages, because they are a business establishment. So I called them for advice. They told me a) they do not have the form I require, but b) they gave me the phone number of the office that does have the form. Hurray! I call the number and spoke to a clerk who promised to mail me a replacement form immediately.
On that optomistic note, I left for America to celebrate my brother's birthday. When I returned, still in March, alas! There was no replacement form in my mailbox. And Alas! I had lost the phone number of the clerk!
This time I decided not to trust the phone and the postal system, but rather to go to the Motor Vehicle Bureau in person. Rumor had it that the MVB was in Holon. Once again I called MEMSI, and determined the address and bus # to take. I took the recommended bus and asked the driver to let me off at the stop for the MVB. Everyone on the bus became interested, and they all made sure I got off at the right stop. Miraculously, right by the information desk at the MVB they had stacks of exactly the form I needed. I took two, just in case.
By this time I had two weeks left until my drivers' license expired. I went to my family doctor's office on Thursday afternoon, which is one of the days listed for his office hours. Alas! he was not working until Sunday afternoon. I left the form with his secretary. I returned on Sunday afternoon to pick up the filled-out form, too late to catch the eye doctor. On Monday afternoon I left the form with the eye doctor's secretary and picked it up on Tuesday morning, too late to go to the MVB, which closes at 1PM. Wednesday morning I again took the now-familiar bus to the MVB in Holon. They were giving out numbers. I had number 158. Alas! they were serving number 37. That meant I had to wait for 121 people to be served before my turn. My birthday was Friday. I observed that there were eight clerks working and that it seemed to take 20 minutes for the numbers to advance by 40. So I only (!) had to wait an hour. I presented the clerk with my filled-out form and my almost-but-not-yet-expired license and my ID card. She said, alas! I can only issue you a temporary license because you are taking these prescriptions and our consulting doctor must approve. I said "They are blood pressure and osteoporosis medications," and she said, "I'm sorry." So I left with a temporary license, not laminated and with no photograph, and the clerk gave me a telephone number to call in a few weeks to see what the consulting doctor says about my eligibility for a real drivers' license with photograph.
Now it is June. I didn't call, but the temporary license doesn't expire until October. Last week I received a bill from the Motor Vehicle Bureau. It says that as soon as I pay NIS 136, I should receive a real driver's license in the mail within two months. I imagine it will arrive at about the same time as the medical form for next year's renewal! Gah! And I don't even own a car any more!