My journey to becoming Kama’aina!!!

So today I experienced the trials and tribulations of a Hawaiian government agency,  I took the big leap, made a huge step, and finally got myself, my very own Hawaii state ID card! Yes I am now officially a resident of the state of Hawaii and have ID to prove it. I am now Kama’aina (local) as they call it in Hawaii. Well not really because I am black girl living in Hawaii, and I look nothing like a Hawaiian anything, so I am pretty sure people know that I was not born and raised in Hawaii. Unless I grew up in a military family, or have a Hawaiian accent (which I really don’t,  barely have the New York accent), its not hard to tell that I am not a true local. But alas, now I do have proof that I am a resident, and most importantly I qualify for all the Kama’aina discount prices! In Hawaii there are two ways to save money, either you can be in the military (and  that is not happening because I have never been fond of Uncle Sam), or you can be an actual resident. Sorry tourists but the truth of the matter is that when you don’t live here and come to the island to visit, you spend a lot of money. The prices are raised for clubs, bars, and anything that’s fun so the locals can make more money. Too bad NY doesn’t give discounts to state residents, maybe I would have stayed there (no not really, just a passing thought).

Moving on, today was a big day (and a long one at that). I guess since I have ID to prove that I am a resident that means that I am gonna stick around for a while, ummm…lets just take it one day at a time for now. Now you notice that I said Hawaii state ID and not that I changed my driver’s license over to the state of Hawaii. Oh no I made a conscious decision not to do that, I am  holding on to my New York State driver license as long as possible. I feel it necessary to hold on to my original big city roots, and have evidence that I do come from the great state of NY (and that I can probably drive faster than any one else on this island who is not from NY!).

Let me take you on the journey through, my eventful day of obtaining a state ID. First of all you can’t just go to the DMV and go get an ID. I am used to that because in New York, the DMV is the one stop shop for any form of identification, but no, not in Hawaii, they have a whole separate office to get a state ID. To get to this government office that is only open from 8AM until 2 PM, I had to first drive my car into town (Honolulu).  Since my morning already started off wrong, I actually didn’t leave my house until 12 pm, leaving me only 2 hours to get to this office. Now you may think, OK 2 hours is plenty of time, yeah think again, not when driving into town or downtown Honolulu.  First I drive onto the H1  the highway that is closest to my house, and for some reason no matter what time of day it is, there always seems to be some form of traffic on this H1. Then when  I reach my exit to find this office building, knowing I have no idea where it is, just some map quest directions, and a wonderful HTC Touchpro phone with GPS (my ultimate Hawaii lifesaver! Highly recommended phones with navigational GPS apps), I begin my search for this building. Now let me get this straight, driving downtown to Honolulu in mid afternoon is NOTHING like driving through the midtown tunnel in Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon. The amount of traffic on a summer afternoon in Manhattan compared to Honolulu, makes downtown Honolulu look like an empty parking lot! So I will not sit here an complain about the many one way streets of Honolulu, and lanes that force you to turn down another one way street, and streets that will never end up making a full circle no matter how many left turns you take. Even though that is frustrating for a person that easily gets lost, I won’t complain, and hey remember I have my trusty phone-GPS system! So I finally reach the building that does the state ID’s for every person on the island of Oahu at about 1:30 Pm. Great, I have about a half hour to spare before this place closes. I am hoping that I can just go in and out, and be done without wasting the rest of my afternoon, yeah that was just wishful thinking.

As I arrive at the building, my first daunting task was to look for parking. Ok I will complain about this, as in midtown Manhattan or by any government building in NY, there is never any parking! Why is that? No parking, and meters that charge a quarter for every 10 seconds you leave your car. Our great government, when going to a government building, make sure you have lots of spare change!!! I finally find a parking space after driving around for what seemed like an eternity, and empty all my spare change into this meter. Obviously the amount of change I had on me was not enough because I still got a parking ticket!!!! Damn the Honolulu police, did they really have to give me a ticket? OK, OK, OK, I know I should have checked my meter more often, got more change, and avoided getting a ticket at all costs. But really I just wanted to get my ID and leave, how was I supposed to know that it was going to take 3 hours of precious time out of my life to get a state ID.  After I finally park my car and walk into the building, which I can’t pronounce the name but its called the Kekuanao’a building, I had a quick coherent flashback of being at the New York State DMV. Yup lots of people, and long lines, I guess that doesn’t change from state to state. Except these people didn’t look pissed off, and nobody was ready to tell off the person working behind the counter, no that’s not a NY myth, that’s a NY actual experience! They did have one police officer with a gun in the building, so maybe Hawaiians do become angry and out of control at the site of long lines.

I am not gonna lie, at this point I wanted to just leave, I have very little patience for lines. Now in Hawaii people are very friendly, and everything is done with Aloha.  The state of  Aloha is usually very welcoming, and charming however, I am starting to think that it is also take your time, and move incredibly slow! I know I am from NY and everything in NY moves quick, we like things done now and do it fast! We walk fast, talk fast, and New Yorkers are always in a rush. The thought of missing a train and waiting another 3-5 minutes on a platform for the next one is close to the equivalent of being tortured to a slow, painful, death. I know I have to get used to the Hawaiian state of mind which is slow, take your time, and no rush. But I am still a native New Yorker, so can we speed this Aloha thing up just a little bit. Maybe there can be a middle ground, not quite the NY speed race, but faster than the Hawaiian tortuous.

As I fill out my application and wait in the FIRST line for my documents to be reviewed, I just keep thinking this line is not moving at all, and thoughts of leaving keep entering my mind. The only thing that held me in this line was that I didn’t feel like making the trip back here to do it again. Finally the line move and I get closer to seeing the document woman. When I get closer to her desk another woman hands me a number, I think what is this number for, then I sadly, and painfully realize that this number is for my second leg of this race. Not only is there the document line, there is the real wait to actually get your ID, Ha! I think to myself, what have I gotten myself into. So she hands me number 94, I look up at the screen to see the number that is now being served and my heart suddenly hits the ground when I see 44. I check my number again to make sure that I had read it correctly the first time, maybe it really said 49 and not 94, but no it really said 94. OMG!!! I have to wait for 50 people to go before I finally get seen to have my picture taken for my ID. There goes those thoughts of leaving flying around my head again, just wanting to walk out, go to the beach and grab lunch. No again I talk myself into staying, I say I am going to do this, because there is NO WAY in the world am I coming back to do this again!!! I look over at all the people sitting on the benches waiting for their numbers to be called, I think to myself, wow I wonder how long they have been here? Some of them look like they have been sleeping here overnight! Then I realize why the office shuts down at 2 PM by the time they are done with everyone it has to be about 5 or 6 PM. I am not sure if that is Hawaii slowness, or not enough staff to meet the needs of the agency. But oh well, I finally have my documents reviewed and wait for my number to be called.

Nearly 2 hours later, finally they reach number 90, just 4 more people to go, then its my turn. I feel the excitement start to turn inside of me, as I realize its almost time for me to reclaim my life, and get out of this office!!! I start to think wow I can make plans for the rest of the day, what am i going to do next, my life will be mine again! My number is called, I hand in my documents, my picture is taken, and then once again I am back to sitting and waiting for my ID to be made up. Now the great thing about this whole process is that my ID is made and given to me right there. I don’t have to go back, and I don’t have to wait 3-4 weeks for it to come in the mail. I can start being local or Kama’aina right when I walk out the building. Kama’aina discounts here I come! The wait for my ID to be ready is approximately 10 minutes, not too bad since I have just spent the last 3 hours waiting, I’m sure I won’t die in the next 10 minutes. Finally the woman at the desk calls my name, hands me my new Hawaii state ID, and I head on out! Not a horrible experience. The staff were very friendly, and even though they had seen hundreds of  people during the day, they still managed to smile and have a tone of voice as though I was number 1. Now that is the difference that you don’t see in a New York State DMV, some of those workers act like they hate their jobs, and treat you like you told them they would be stuck in a miserable job at the DMV for the rest of their life. Even though the wait was long, and my day wasn’t perfect, it was nice be treated friendly as I finally became a Hawaii resident.

Now who wants to deal with my parking ticket???……..

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