becoming an official nashvillian


You can’t go to the local AAA office in Nashville, like you can in California, to handle DMV matters. So, you go to the DMV satellite office to stand in a ridiculously long line to enter a tiny little office to be told that you do not have the required emissions test paperwork and you need to go to an emissions testing facility across town. After passing said test, you then get to drive across town again (Friday at 3:30pm means a normal 15-minute drive turns into a 60-minute drive) to stand in the long line again, to be given license plates and a pamphlet on the DMV office you need to go to in order to be issued your driver’s license. This all went down on the second day I was in town, completely sleep-deprived as I had been sleeping on the floor, and I never made it to the DMV to handle my business.

DMV #1


I called the DMV to see if I needed to have a social security card in order to be issued a license. Their online and call-in information summaries said that you needed your current state’s license, two pieces of mail with your new address, and either a birth certificate or passport, along with a social security card number, in order to complete the process. Now, did I need a social security card number or the actual card? I had the number but not the physical card. The guy on the phone said I needed the actual card so I got to then research how to go about getting me one of them. The results were not pretty.


After taking a week off of work to move, I got to then take an undefined amount of time off one early morning so I could go stand in line at the US SSA office in Nashville. I zipped over during my lunch break and asked a security guard how long the wait would be.

“We’re not authorized to tell you how long the wait will be.” – Scary security dude.

Could it be hours?” – Me, terrified by both him and the wait that was ahead of me.

I got a barely-discernable vertical nod. I was thankful he unauthorizedly saved me from hours of waiting only not to be called on. I took my purse out of the little bins that they use to check your stuff for security purposes and got out of there as fast as I could. I showed back up at 7:00am to get in line for the 9:00am open time. I knew it was going to be horrible but I don’t think I fully grasped the bizarro characters to come.

I was first in line (yay!). I wanted to bring a cup of coffee but I knew I’d need to pee with no bathroom access for a couple hours, so I sat on the cold concrete in front of the main doors (in a pile of ants, that was fun), sans coffee, and enjoyed the weirdos in line with me.

Prior to this early morning venture, I had seen every episode of Parks and Recreation several times (it is one of my all-time favorite shows) I know had, before my very own eyes in real life, all the characters represented in that show. The only difference is that they weren’t actors, they were real people. It wasn’t quite as funny when the whole fictional element was removed.


Racist old dude (ROD). Got out of his car as soon as he saw he saw a dude stand next to me to officially start forming the line. As most people do in a line, they started to commiserate on why they were there. ROD suspected someone was breaking and entering his apartment back in Ohio. He knew this because his television sound system was out of whack, the balance was all off, and he just knew that one Mexican groundskeeper was sneaking into his house in the middle of the night to watch his television. He changed the locks, but it didn’t matter because the culprit worked for the complex and had the master key. So, ROD approached the groundskeeper and told him he knew he was going into his home every night and that he better not do it again. Next thing he knew, he was being charged with assault. Was kicked out of the apartment he lived in and was now living in his old Camry. The cops believed that someone was sneaking into the house but there was nothing they could do. This was the turning point.

“I never laid a finger on that man! So they tried getting me on verbal assault. There were witnesses but they were other groundskeepers and they’re all in cahoots with one another so it didn’t do no good to try and get video evidence or nothing. I know my rights! I know my property rights! They’re all in cahoots.If the groundskeepers are crooked, the cops are crooked, then who knows how deep this corruption runs!” – ROD

So, he skipped out on his court date, which was the day before, and fled Ohio to Tennessee. He heard people in Tennessee were nice and so far, in the last four hours, that proved to be true. He tried to use “the Siri” while he stood in line to try and find a free lawyer because he wasn’t about to trust no public defender. Now, why was he at the TENNESSEE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE to solve this problem? I have no idea.


This loves-her-family lady (LHFL) was a little further away in line but I got to hear snippets (which was more than I wanted to know).

“…two of the most important people to me know…you know how it is, you gotchur grandma and your brother…and she was a good woman, you know…my brother…they never found a weapon…they say the gunshots…what are you gonna do…and the gun…but it’s family so you know…they’re saying its murder but…” – LHFL

I have no idea how one could talk so casually about murder, and so loudly for that matter, and from what I could piece together in my undesired overhearing, about a very sketchy face-off between her brother and some other people ended in her brother being murdered. Was he a murderer? Was he murdered? Was he a murderer who was murdered? Was the grandma a murderer? Did the grandma and the brother murder one another? I didn’t want to find out.



The security guard (TSG) was the most disturbing of all the people. Why couldn’t he have been more like Jake Peralta? He certainly looked like him. It was finally 9:00am and we could finally go inside! The line formed to be about fifty deep by this point.

“Listen up! When you enter, you will place your belongings in the bins where they will be inspected. You will walk through the metal detectors and you will, I repeat, YOU WILL comply. IF you have ANY illegal substances on you, get out of this line RIGHT NOW and leave it in your car. This includes weapons, marijuana, ANYTHING that is not permissible on government property. DO YOU HEAR ME? Do NOT yell at anyone when you eventually are called on and are at the window. When they yell back, you don’t yell back again, you come and get ME. You will be civil. You WILL be escorted off the property – right through those doors – if you give anyone ANY kind of trouble.” – TSG

I have never been treated guilty until proven innocent and that was exactly what went down. What had happened in the past to warrant such a terrifying alternative to the expected silent door-opening I had anticipated.


There were some normal folks in line. There was a lady with a baby, little kids, some old people, a handsome fella that never looked up from his phone. It was reassuring to see some non-weirdos.

Thankfully, I was first in line and got out of the big waiting room that smelled disgusting and was being run like what I imagine a prison could be like. The security guard did his job, I felt like a criminal when I all I really was/am is a U.S. citizen in need of some flimsy official card with my social security number printed on it. The card came a week after my visit to the please-don’t-ever-make-me-go-there-again social security office.

DMV #2


Another day, another morning I had to take off to go stand in a line at the crack of dawn to be surrounded by a bunch of characters. One girl was constantly braiding her hair, would wrap the braids real tight around her pencil, and then she’d unwrap them from the pencil as fast as she had originally wrapped them. I have no idea what she was doing but she looked stressed and I my heart went out to her. I also stood behind a guy who had spent the previous day in line, on his birthday, in the rain, only to get to his turn to find out he didn’t have the required documentation to finish up his business, so he was in line again, with me. We bonded over the struggles of moving from out of state. The rain clouds started to roll in and the humidity levels started to significantly rise. My once-straightened hair was now volumized and poofy around my head. Perhaps the hair-braiding girl was on to something after all and I was the strange one. My photo turned out terrible, I look like I have a helmet on my head in the shape of hair. It looks like LEGO hair. This was depressing because my California license always got me nice compliments.

I got to the counter.

“Don’t you need to see my social security card?” – Me to the DMV clerk.

“No, I just need the number, not the card.” – DMV clerk.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hours in line and time taken off of work just days before, waking up early, for no reason. FML. Well, at least I now have my SS card. And my DL card. And the not-mentioned proof of insurance card and AAA card. Need a card? Pick a card. I have all the cards. I was dealt one bitch of a hand that second week in Nashville but at least I’m official now. I should’ve avoided it all and taken the gamble that I wouldn’t get pulled over, and when I did, deal with it then.




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