Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Horrors From The DMV

So yesterday I spent part of my afternoon sitting at the DMV waiting for a letter to be added to my license. It only took 2 hours of waiting (a vast improvement from 4 years ago when my wife and I sat for over 4 hours to get my license moved from a different state to my current state). During those two hours I watched a man become so bored with his life that he actually fell asleep in one of those Department of Motor Vehicle chairs- no arm rests, no cushion, nothing to hold you in. He snored for about 4 minutes until something woke him.

You know, it’s funny that they have signs that say “No mobile phones or pagers allowed. You must turn them off or turn them to silent.” Even with these signs in multiple locations it did not detour the masses. Mobile phone after mobile went off. It is always interesting to hear one sided conversations. You really get a sense of how dumb you sound when talking on one in public. A majority of the conversations started like this: “Hello. Just sitting here in the DMV waiting.” I wonder why they wasted the paper and ink (read: taxpayer money) to print these signs if no one enforces the decree?

A young girl who goes to one of our many private schools showed up with her mother. She constantly was grooming herself in preparation for her license picture. You could tell she was excited. Her number was called. (By the way, what is up with the number system? G109, B269, B267, I412… No consecutive order and no way to anticipate the remainder of your wait. I think they planned it that way.) She had her mother to drive the car around to the side while she filled out some paperwork. The mother came back in and sat down and waited for about 10 minutes. Then it happened. The girl came running back in crying and sobbing looking utterly confused. She could not find her mom. I saw her mom shake her and she got up. She was trying to talk to her mother but whatever was coming out of her mouth was not English. They had to go sign for something and the girl never stopped sobbing. Apparently her 16 years of life on this planet was ruined and there was nothing else to live for. No, not even the driver’s test she could take the very next week.

To round out things a bit there was a lady sitting in the back to the left with two young children. Both children were not happy about the long wait and they were the only ones who would publicly display their contempt for the long lines and wait. Okay, maybe they did not grasp the situation but they did understand they did not want to be there and their mom was making them be there. For two hours they cried, whined, screamed, accused their mother of keeping them there, and demanded that she let them down. And yeah, while this was going on, the man was snoring, the 16 year old was crying and sobbing, several people did not allow the boredom to interfere with their public displays of affection and mobile phones were going off like an operator’s switchboard. Then, on the overhead you would hear: “B547 is now being seen at counter 8”.

What a fun and interesting day. If your DMV is not like this, please go to a bigger city and try to do anything with your license. Please. You have to do it at least once before you leave this world. I was to the point that I was thinking to myself, if my job was to come here everyday for 6 hours and sit and wait and listen and they paid me 1,000 a day, I could not do it. I would have to quit. I wonder if the DMV is a little taste of what a watered down Hell might be like? Hmmm.

Some questions:
-Do you have any interesting stories from the DMV?
-Do you have suggestions for how to increase the efficiency of such a state run place?
-Does my experience seem typical?
-Do you think the DMV employees enjoy their jobs?
-Do you think that since you are legally required to visit the DMV that is why they do not make strides to improve the efficiency of such a place? If you have to go, why improve it?


misawa said...

The only problem I've ever encountered at the DMV was when the Governor enstated the law that forced the issuing of renewals in 15 minutes or less or it was free. The problem is it did away with the first-come-first-serve, take-a-number thing they were already doing and pushed others, such as address changes and so forth, to the back of the line. I was still only there for an hour, though.

Side-track - I have often had an idea that when I see an overly-amorous couple, pulling out my cell and, while still in earshot, say loudly "Hi, mom!" That word can be such a mood killer. ;)

Glenna Marshall said...

2.5 hours at that very same DMV simply to get my married name put on my license. strangely enough, that particular trip produced the best license picture i've ever had. i guess being newly married suited me.
the license i had made here in missouri makes me look like a mutant. at our local DMV, they make you look at this particular spot while they take your pic. what they don't tell you is that that makes you look cross-eyed in your picture. bleh. it's almost as bad as my YMCA pass picture.