Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let's Make a Deal

I applied for an Austrian driver's license in May.  Accomplishing this task involved a stuffed manila envelope containing paperwork from 2 different government offices, photos in a special size, a Doctor's certification form, a USA driver's license, a passport, a "legitimation" card, an application, multiple copies of all of the items mentioned, some money and any other documents (plus copies) that could possibly be requested during my trip to the licensing office at the police station.  I even had a friend who speaks German with me.....just in case the visit fell into the language gap.

After finding out that I had surrender my US driver's license as part of this process (ack!), I opted to wait and pick up the new license after our summer vacation in Arizona.  With my paperwork approved and fees paid, I was told the license would be "ready and waiting" on my return, as the young woman pointed toward sets of shelves piled high with stacks of folders and papers.

Today.  3 months after my initial visit.  I tried to pick up my license.

Two lines snaked out the door and a total of 1.5 bureaucrats were working two rows of windows.  The mood was as dim as the lighting, the silence broken only by uncovered coughs and sneezes.  Every so often, however, someone behind the windows would yell out an announcement I couldn't understand, causing a ripple of consternation in the lines.  My ignorance was bliss, until I looked around at everyone clutching their version of the stuffed manila envelope.

My manila envelope was at home.

Have you ever watched "Let's Make a Deal" with Monty Hall?

It had everything a game show could want, zany costumes, fabulous prizes and zonks, the lovely assistant Carol Merrill and the ultimate deal of the day lurking behind Door Number 1, 2 or 3.  My favorite part, however, was the show's end when Monty walked the audience asking for obscure items, like a hard boiled egg or can of soup, in exchange for a cash prize.  People in the studio audience brought bags stuffed with everything unimaginable, including the kitchen sink.  Looking at the envelopes and folders of those in line ahead was eerily similar.

So I dashed home to get mine.

And wouldn't you know, the female Austrian version of Monty Hall was working my window.  As soon as I handed over my passport, she tapped a few keys on the computer and started playing her own version of "Let's Make a Deal".

Finally this:  "Not Ready".  "Not Ready?" I asked.  "Not Ready" she confirmed.
Ever see the movie 16 Candles?  It took all I had not to snort.

She shook her head no as I continued pulling papers, copies, photos, applications, and letters out of that manila envelope.  The line grumbled and I broke into a sweat digging through my wallet for identification cards, credit cards, library cards, anything.

Damn it, Monty!  I've got my eyes on the prize!

Exasperated, she snatched one of my IDs, scurried off to make a copy and said to me in English, "Come back next week."

Oh Monty, I'll be back.  And I'm bringing a hard boiled egg, a can of soup and the kitchen sink.


  1. maybe you take a look on following link:
    you can convert your licence at every district administrative authority.. (Mödling, Schwechat), it is easier than in vienna.
    best regards,
    ps: "vienna is different" .. also for us in austria ;))
    pps: fantastic blog!

    1. Thank you so much! For both the helpful advice and the compliment.

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  3. Can you get a license WITHOUT surrendering the US license? I have done all the paperwork and got the email saying I can come pick it up; after 4 months waiting and after having been told I needed the reverse of a medical exam that I already handed in. I never did get the doctor to include the reverse side of the paper with my exam, but somehow an email appeared saying that my license was ready. Only then did I see the part about surrendering my US license. ACK and double ACK! Why is this necessary? I can own 2 passports (both US) why can't I have 2 DL's? This is a huge barrier and thusly have not picked up my new Austrian DL. Anyone have any anecdotal stories to help me out?


    1. Hi Mark-You are required to turn in the US license. You may want to email your DMV in the US to see if there is a way to apply for another US license to replace what you turn in. Good Luck!

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