Wednesday, April 28, 2010
When the simple becomes absurd
I'm probably going to step on some toes here, but I am going to say it anyway: sometimes it's just ridiculous trying to get things that should be relatively simple accomplished here in our fine state.
A few weeks ago, we had a classic experience. Our friend Ani returned from India to live with us. I took her to the MVD on Monday morning to get her NM license renewed (it had expired 3 years ago). We drove an hour to go to the office in Red River, because the MVD office in Taos is locally known for long waits and surly employees. In she went, with her expired license (that once proved who she was, didn't it?) and her passport in hand. Boy, were we barking up the wrong tree. This woman was not going to make this easy.
And so begins what would become a five day odyssey. First, a trip to the taos county tax assessor's office for a copy of Ani's tax bill for her very rural property, which turned out to not be acceptable for proof of residency, because it didn't have a 911 street address. Then, a trip to Santa Fe for a signed and stamped affidavit from the Social Security Administration (please note: your social security card is not to be used as legal identification, except, apparently, if you need a driver's license in NM). Then, another trip back to Red River...whereupon the "nice" MVD lady is getting testy because her lack of giving proper information in the first place has now cost three days' trips and yes, it's true...not enough correct documentation. She forgot to mention the bank account...yes, having a bank account will do the trick!
Back to Taos. Open a bank account. Get signed paperwork from the bank. Drive back another hour to Red River. OOPS! No dice. You must wait until the first statement is mailed to you, and bring that in. Oh, and I forgot to mention the trip to our lawyer's office for the required, notarized, affidavit signed by Roger, acknowledging that Ani lives with us and we know her to a good person.
I will not trouble you with the rest of the attempts to try to divine up what the MVD wanted. When they finally had it right, on day five (I was out of town by this time, and Roger had taken up the cause), the MVD lady says "Oh, do you want a driver's license? 'Cause my machine is broken, and I haven't been able to make them all week!" (This is now Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Red River). A last resort trip back to the MVD office in Taos that afternoon yielded not only the only known nice, helpful, and polite person in the MVD office, but at last, a driver's license.
And this is a state that issues drivers' licenses to people who don't even have citizenship or passports. Not that I care, but how do they manage their way through this maze and get licensed?
My next gripe is from this week. I have been told repeatedly by my postmaster that ANY package over 13 oz. being shipped out of the United States MUST be shipped by Priority mail rates. I have had to charge obscene postage prices to my dear Canadian customers because of this (bad) information, and this week, I paid $27.50 in postage to send a 14 oz. package of wool to a customer in Australia. I had finally hit my limit when my Australian customer told me she had never paid more than $11.00 for a similar purchase from another U.S. vendor. Off I went to the wretched U.S. Postal system website.
There I found that yes, Virginia, there is a First Class International postage rate for packages up to 4 lbs., if under a certain physical size. Back I went to my P.O. yesterday, printed web pages in hand, to challenge my postmaster. She would not even look at them. I was trying hard to be diplomatic (not my strong suit when irritated) and explain my concern about this conflict in information, when she said..."and what's your point?" Her best and final answer: there is only priority mail over 13 oz., because her machine tells her so.
So today I went to another post office in our area...and guess what? They know about the much lower international shipping rate and will let me use it! Imagine that! I know the postal system is in trouble, but getting hosed unnecessarily on postage is not the way to fix the problems. Will I report her and this incident? No. It will serve me no good, and most likely, not fix the problem. That's just how it is here sometimes.
So IF you've stayed with me this long, and IF you happen to be one of my customers from out of country, please know that when I reopen my Etsy shop at the end of May, I will now, officially, offer international shipping at reasonable (compared to priority) prices. My deepest apologies to those of you who have gotten stuck, in the past, with high postage rates because of my Postmaster's lack of knowledge.
Thank you for putting up with my rant. Things are screwy here, sometimes, and often it's what we love about living here...but sometimes it just gets to be too much, and I need to get it off my shoulders. Please feel free to share your own, similar, stories with me...it might be comforting to know this happens in other places.