Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The $647 driver's license, part 3

So after the driving test is over, I get all my paperwork back and I ask my Guy if I had passed.

"Inshallah," he answered.

"So do I just wait and get my license now?" I asked.

"No, we have to go to another office and they with print your license."

Oh great!

"...but that office is closed now."


Because it was Thursday and the beginning of the weekend in Kuwait, my Guy had to wait until Sunday when the office would open again. He would take my gigantic stack of stamped and scribbled paperwork to the office and wait in line for me.

Have I mentioned how much I love my Guy?

Sunday rolls around and I haven't heard anything from my Guy until after school. Turns out he went to the office, but the machine that prints the licenses was broken.


"Inshallah I will go back tomorrow morning and just pick it up. I will come to your classroom by 9:30 and give you your license."

"So does that mean I passed?!"

He gave me the cutest look that said, "Come on! Who are you kidding?! Of course you passed!"

Woo hoo! I'm street legal, y'all! No more hiding from the police in the traffic checkpoints! No more adrenaline rushes and sweaty palms when I catch the red-and-blue lights in my rear view mirror! If I need groceries, IMMA GO OUT AND GET THEM, y'all! This peace of mind only cost me 2 and a half years of waiting and nearly $650.

Here's the breakdown of the cost:

Authentication of undergraduate diploma: $230. This is my own fault, though. I went with the WORST courier service in Washington DC (scroll down about 1/3 of the way on this entry to read about that drama) that charged an ungodly amount of money for a simple service.

Authentication of Tennessee driver's license: $111. Different courier this time. MUCH more pleasant to work with. Still a lot of money.

Translation fee: $102 (that's $30 KD for those in Kuwait)

Driving test fees: $68 (20 KD)

Eye test: $34 (10 KD)

License printing fee: $102 (30 KD)

We still need to buy thank you gifts for our wasta and my Guy. For all the trouble they went through, they're not going to be cheap gifts, but we are happy to give them.

I feel like all this back-and-forth and bureaucracy is just a convoluted bribe, really. There is no reason for me to have to show my university degree for my driving license, this is just a way to prevent less-wealthy expats (read: the sub-continentals without wasta) from getting licenses, thus forcing them to drive illegally so they can get deported when caught in the ever-more-frequent traffic checkpoints.

The translation has to be done with specific translation agencies, which will take their sweet time getting it all done and will charge a lot of money for it in the process. It's all one of those more-and-more frequent hassles expats have to put up with when living in Kuwait. The writing is on the wall: Kuwait is doing what it can to get rid of expatriates like us by making things more and more inconvenient and expensive for us.

The Mister and I can take a hint. Annoyances like this combined with some other life-changing situations have started the ball rolling for us to leave the Middle East.

More on that to come.

Vicariously yours,

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