Please, let me in

Emily Bialkowski
Managing Editor

You can rest easy tonight, Minnesota. Your state government has made it seemingly impossible to let in any out-of-state riffraff. I say this after going through the experience of getting a Minnesota driver’s license and plates. When my family and I first moved here a whirlwind of activity needed to take place quickly. We had to get our old house on the market, find a new house, pack, register Sophie for school, find documents we hadn’t looked at for years, blah, blah, blah – you know the story. Getting my driver’s license and plates updated was not the very first order of business.

Once semi settled, I looked into the cost of changing these things out, and it amounted to about $200. After spending a mint on gas, paying two mortgages (for all practical purposes) and other moving related expenses, a $200 licensing fee was a strain on this already expensive time period.

Once I refueled the pocket book I learned of the written driving test I needed to take to get my Minnesota license. OK, it’s been decades since I’ve been required to take such a test, but it’s fair. I was given a handbook to study and thought I’d have a sit down with it one night. Nights of meetings and nights of photo opportunities came and went, as did nights for sitting around, but nights for studying just didn’t seem to present themselves.

Originally, I thought I had six months to get these items updated, but the county informed me I actually only had 60 days, and when I saw that someone received a ticket for possessing an out-of-date driver’s license in the public record section of this newspaper, I knew I needed to just go and take the test.

Walking into the basement of the courthouse I wasn’t too nervous. You can take the test over if you fail, and I needed to do something. I thought, even if I failed, I’d at least know what kind of questions and information I needed to re-learn. I presented the DOT representative my proof of ID and sat down at a table sized for three by myself. Everyone in the room had done that – found a table no one else was sitting at.

Some of the questions were obvious, but a fair share were not so black and white. I had to re-read several questions to make sure I knew what the heck I was trying to answer. As I reviewed each question and contemplated the correct answer, two people had passed through the line and failed.

One was a teenager and one was a middle to upper-aged man. I felt bad for them because everyone in the room heard the bad news. I realized then that I really didn’t want to fail. I went back to questions I didn’t feel confident about and actually changed two of my answers.

The momentum was building and I gave in after checking every single question to make sure I marked what I, indeed, intended to mark. I handed the stocking-capped gentleman my question book, answer sheet and identification as instructed and quickly sat back down for fear of falling over. Before I could collect myself he had pulled out some paperwork and began filling it in. I remember him shuffling papers for those who failed and after waiting as long as I humanly could I asked, “Did I pass?”

“Yep,” was the answer.

I thought he’d say more but when he didn’t I asked, “How many did I get wrong?”

“One,” was his response.

Yes, I thought to myself while simultaneously realizing I can’t wait to see how many my husband gets wrong.

The DOT man put together paperwork for me to take upstairs and off I went happy to be done with that stress. Upon leaving he said, “Good luck to you.”

Nice sentiment, though strikingly odd at that particular moment. Do I need luck, I wondered.

Oh yes, indeed, you need a little luck when licensing in Minnesota I later found, which I will detail in another column.


You can contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]