It’s been three years since I last drove a car. That feels weird to me. Driving used to be a regular part of everyday life. I got a Toyota Corolla FX when I was 16 or 17 and drove the shit out of it. I stayed in the Toyota family and took a passed down Camry once my grandmother could no longer drive. I’d drive to and from work, to school (if I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered doing the 40 or so minute walk. How things have changed) and down country when I eventually moved to Rotorua. I liked driving and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how much I enjoyed it. I was never a petrol head, but having the freedom of movement was excellent. Feeling that kind of control over a device with so much potential was empowering. I loved giving rides, finding out new and exciting routes to places, making music playlists perfectly tailored to the trip (after factoring in route times).
Yet in Toronto, I’ve been subject to the whims of public transport. I run on the TTC’s time and mercy. I have all the freedom of movement a grid pattern can provide. I’m not complaining about the quality of public transport (in comparison to services back in Auckland), but it requires a lot more planning and spare time. It also means that I don’t have to consider the danger of drunk driving, but that’s a slim advantage. Why am I mentioning any of this? Because in a few short months, I’ll be back in front of the wheel.
For the longest time (woah oh oh), New Zealand and Ontario were without a reciprocal driving licence scheme. I could’ve swapped my NZ licence for a Canadian one back in Vancouver, but not so in TO. It caused me no end of griping, given the aforementioned freedom of four wheels and a chassis (plus all that other stuff on top). I had no intention of buying a car, but the ability to rent a car certainly would’ve made things more flexible. Cottage country wouldn’t have been so far away or dependent upon the wheels of others. As recently as February of 2015, a reciprocal scheme was put into place. It took me over a year to catch wind of it, then several more months to realise my licence was out of date, find the application forms for an overseas extension and get everything done.
What do I mean by everything? Well it turns out you can extend an expired licence from overseas once in your life. Every other time you need to do it in person back in New Zealand. I figure I’m going back in January, so once I have my Canadian licence here, I can get a new NZ licence when I visit. There was no snazzy online application, so I had to go the manual route. I called home and spoke to a nice lady named Joy who helped me pay via credit card. I filled out the necessary forms then realised I needed notarisation on my driver licence photocopies. I’d never gotten anything notarised here in Toronto. Back home I’d always just talk to a friend of my parents. Some Justice of the Peace or other qualified person. Here in Toronto though, it’s not quite so simple.
Looking up notarising services, it’s not cheap. There are either outfits created exactly for that purpose, or Kijiji/Craigslist style individuals who’ll meet you in a specific Starbucks for $15 (plus $10 for each page after the first). I went to a notarisation place across the road from my work and they quoted $40 for the first page, $10 for each page after that. There was no fucking way I was spending $50 for someone to stamp two pieces of paper.
I put on my thinking cap, then had a light bulb moment. I work for a large corporation. Large corporations have legal departments. Some legal professionals have the ability to notarise documents. I made a few email inquiries and within an hour I was talking to a nice lady down in legal. She got out her big stamp and wrote a couple of remarks on each page. Service with a smile and without cost. Sometimes it pays to be a corporate sellout. I mailed it off so now all I have to do is wait. Then get my licence. Then exchange it at the College Park Service Ontario (specifically. No idea why).
The wheels are turning, folks. Soon I’ll be the one making it happen.