I took a one day leave last Tuesday to apply for a driver’s license. I was told that the processing will only take half a day but I figured I’ll take the whole day off so I don’t have to rush going back to the office.
It took me two fucking days to get my fucking license.
The first day was just so shitty. I went to LTO Tayuman around 9 in the morning, thinking how convenient it is to live close to the licensing center – and then the guard told me that slippers are not allowed inside [for the record, I was wearing jeans and flip flops from Petit Monde. Okay, I know it’s no Havaiannas, but I don’t think even Havaiannas are allowed]. So I went home to change into appropriate footwear. I rushed back to LTO and was on the line to submit the requirements when the stupid transformer exploded. In short, brown-out sa LTO. So I asked for other LTO licensing centers and I was told to go to LTO Kalookan.
I’d like to mention at this point of my story that I chose to do this [applying for driver’s license] the right way – meaning I won’t seek “assistance” from fixers and I won’t give “lagay” to the LTO officials. I never thought that doing something right can feel so fucking wrong.
And I also realized that the LTO office in Kalookan is a jungle of madness.
First sign of madness – I paid P50 for the medical exam, and all the “doctor” ever did was ask me if I wear contact lenses. He didn’t even take my blood pressure. Take note that his ‘clinic’ is located inside the LTO premises.
Second sign of madness – Reviewer for the written examinations were being sold in front of the center for ten bucks. I didn’t buy thinking that the information I needed will be discussed during lecture. Keep this information in mind since this has a bearing in my story later on.
Third sign of madness – A lot of the applicants were blatantly wearing slippers. Most guys are in shorts. Some were even wearing sleeveless shirts. Don’t you just love it that you’re the one who got caught when you do something wrong and everyone else gets away with it?
Fourth sign of madness – The person in charge of receiving the documents [and take note that the scope of his duties and responsibilities is to check if the applicants has all the required documents. I mean, how fucking difficult and time-consuming is that?!] told those who were in line to submit their documents to go back by 1pm due to lunch break. The time? 11:30 am.
So half of my day was gone with nothing to show for it.
I was in line at exactly 1pm but the clerk would not take our papers until he has called all those who were able to submit their papers before he declared his half an hour early lunch break to make them sign the logsheet. I can’t begin to describe how appalled and frustrated I am at the inefficient clerk [trust me, he will only get worse later]. After an eternity and a half, my papers were finally accepted and I was told to once again wait.
So I patiently waited to be called to sign the logsheet. I patiently waited to be called to have my picture taken. I patiently waited to be called to pay at the cashier’s window – a call that took a long time to come.
Fifth sign of madness – an hour had passed since my picture was taken and I’m yet to be called at the cashier’s window. Slightly impatient, I asked the cashier why I was not yet called. “System slow down”, the cashier tersely replied. Not entirely satisfied with the explanation but thinking that there’s really nothing I can do at the moment, I sat down to wait some more.
Sixth sign of madness – I couldn’t wait any longer. It’s almost 4 in the afternoon already, I haven’t paid anything, I haven’t sat down for the lecture, I haven’t taken the written and practical exam and there’s still a long line of people waiting for the releasing of their license. I went again to the cashier’s window to ask for the status of my application and she rudely told me to proceed back to inefficient clerk. So I went back to the first window and asked for the status of my application. The inefficient clerk just smiled stupidly and told me to wait more. Wrong answer! I told him I had been waiting since 1pm and it’s already 4pm and he told me “Ay, ganon talaga! Mag-aantay ka.” Tang-ina! Wrong answer lalo! I am just so mad and I was almost shouting when I said: “Anong ganon talaga?! Yung mga kasabay kong nagpa-picture kanina tinawag na sa lecture room ako nandito pa din!” and the idiot had the gall to tell me: “Sigurado ka?”. I can’t believe I dignified his idiocy by answering: “Sasabihin ko ba yun kung hindi?! Alas kwatro na kaya, and all I ever did was have my picture taken! Matatapos ko ba to?! Rata-ta-ta-tat!!!”. The other clerk noticed the racket I was making and approached the window to ask for my surname. I immediately gave it and was told that the processing was delayed because there was a problem with my application. I asked her what the problem was and she launched into a long winded explanation about my middle name being inputted wrongly and I had stopped listening then because that was the lamest and totally irrelevant excuse I ever heard and that would have been useful the first time I asked for the status and not at that moment when I am so, so sure that I had paid too much, once again, for their incompetency. So I sat back once again, pissed off, frustrated, and wondering what the hell I have done to deserve all these.
I feel like my application papers were being passed around the LTO with the note: check this stupid girl. She’s being ridiculously stupid for thinking that she can get by without “oiling our machines”. Make life hard for her so that she’ll learn her lesson next time. Well, of course, it’s just paranoid thinking [can you just imagine the LTO people wording a note the way I did?], but I’m really not in a good mood. What incense me all the more about these people is that they are inefficient and discourteous and the taxes I’m remitting to the government were being use to pay for them to be inefficient and discourteous! And they expect me to pay them lagay for them to function the way they should?! [they even had this slogan displayed prominently: Practice ABC: Always Be Courteous. Tae.]
You know what? As I was typing this, I can feel my blood boiling again.
Seventh sign of madness – After a few minutes, they finally called me at the cashier’s window. The cashier asked for a rounded off amount of the fee when the display clearly stated how much the fees are. I was too tired to ask her to give me a change [since she clearly has no intention of giving me any] and to compute how much she money she’s unduly receiving for not giving loose change to all the applicants. But yeah, shameless corruption.
Eighth sign of madness – I was finally in the lecture area. But after a few minutes, it became apparent that no lecture is about to take place. Well, the hell with the lecture, and the hell with not buying the 10-peso reviewer. I barged in the examination room and told the clerk I want to take the exam. I took the exam in a state of extreme frustration, fatigue and ignorance so I am not feeling confident at that moment. I was probably throwing away my chances of owning a driver’s license, but what the heck! After the events of that day, I lost the excitement I have for owning that piece of plastic.
After the exam, I called my mom and told her that I would just commute going home. I board a jeep that says “LRT Monumento” but got a jolt of panic when the ride stops somewhere that is clearly not within the viciniyt of the LRT and definitely not in Monumento. You just hand it to Luck for forsaking me big time that day. I decided to just go in the direction where most of the people are going.
While walking alone, pissed off and totally ignorant of the place, I had this mad urge to cry. The thing is, I haven’t cried for myself for a long time and how lame is it to be doing it again for the most babaw of reasons?! I hate myself for feeling that way, because I’m supposed to be this strong, independent person and I’m crying because I was lost. No, it’s more than that, I’m crying because I had been monumentally stupid that day and I realized how much I wanted to be with someone that day and I feel so alone and I hate myself for doing this to myself because I’m too proud to ask for help and because I don’t want to be disappointed when my plea for help gets rejected. [and yeah, I sounded like a whiny bitch in that last sentence.] I’m probably making a big deal out of what happened to me but I couldn’t help the way I feel. I couldn’t even ask for directions because I might just burst out crying. Thankfully, I get to where I’m supposed to go, I was able to restrain my emotions and I was able to go home safe and without any katarayan unjustly directed to other people.
The following day, I had to go back to the jungle.
Luckily, I passed the written examination. Unfortunately, the stupid office didn’t have any vehicle with an automatic transmission that I can use for my practical exam! How lame is that? So I had to call my mom [who dropped me by and were on their way to Mandaluyong] and ask if they can go back so that I can use our car for the practical. As if this act of getting a license has not bothered me enough. While waiting for the car, I had this sinking feeling that I might be the only applicant in this godforsaken place who actually took the practical exam. Not a really comforting idea, and the one who administered the practical exam is not making things any better. He’s a surly man who didn’t seem to relish going out to actually do his job! And I’m getting this vibes that he is only looking for lagay. Sorry, but I had gone this far without any help from fixers and/or government employees. Why should this time be any different? The result: they made me wait until afternoon to release my license. And they made me pay 20 bucks for the plastic license holder.
So, after two days, much swearing and shitload of frustrations, I finally have the fucking privilege of owning a fucking government issued driver’s license with my shitty picture on it. I should at least feel relief, but instead, I feel like I was punished for doing it right. If it’s any consolation, I have 2 years and 6 months to abuse my privilege.
Masama na kung masama, pero pagdating ng renewal ko, sa fixer ang takbo ko.