Thursday, September 5, 2013

Anonymiss's Adventures at the DMV

Spent some time at the DMV today: an interesting place. Some things I observed at this grand example of a government institution:

Cartoon by W. Hawland

----The first thing my daughter said to me as we took our place at the end of a long queue: "Is it okay to smile here?"

----They had two analog clocks on opposite walls. The one near the entrance told the correct time. The one behind the workers told the time two hours ago.  I thought perhaps it had stopped, so I watched it for a while. No. It actually was keeping great time. Just two hours off.  I'm sure there's a government/twilight zone metaphor there somewhere...

----They had two large TV screens on opposite walls of the never-ending-waiting area. Woo hoo! Entertainment! What I didn't know is that the DMV has its own programming channel or something...?? We had the pleasure of watching a teenager say how much he loved texting, but, after looking deeply into the eyes of the camera, proclaimed,  "I NEVER text while driving!" He then put his phone in his shirt pocket and patted it. Definitely an Oscar quality performance there.

----They even had their own little trivia questions pop up every so often to keep us on our toes. This is one we saw. See how you fare:
   In which state of matter are atoms closest together?
     A. liquid
     B. solid
    C. gas
    D. vapor

I wonder if I get it wrong if they'll still renew my license?

----They use a touch screen to administer the skills test. I understood the "Are you ready to begin" question - *touch yes* - but was surprised when the "What is your name" question was multiple choice. If I wanted, I could have been Jocelyn Shule.

----They call you up in code. Some kind of letter/number pattern that I had the pleasure of observing for far more minutes than I wished. I'm no code breaker, but I'm no idiot either. As far as I could see, they had chosen the *most complex* system they could to do the job. When I got called up, I was A33. Also being called was J387 and I214, oh and C something or other. Baffled.

---Over an hour later when I was finally done, all that remained was to pay my fee.  I pulled out my VISA card.  I looked at the sign  that showed all the forms of payment they accepted,  including American Express, Discover, MasterCard and many I didn't recognize...My DMV worker said, "I hope that's not a VISA credit. We don't accept that"  Thankfully, I found an envelope with cash in my purse...or I'd still be there...watching the compelling skateboard punk pointing to his car and announcing, "Do that drunk? That'd just be CRAZY!"

Kinda like the phrase "government efficiency".


  1. "Well, you're blind, and you've got a few vehicular manslaughter charges under your belt, but on the other hand, you passed the grade school science portion of the test, and you have that credit card endorsed by Alec Baldwin, so...whoops, I see it's lunchtime in Singapore. Next window..."

  2. You ought to come to Ohio: since we franchised out the license bureaus to private contractors the waits have been much shorter and the workers much less surly.

  3. That's the answer then! We just need to outsource all of government to private contractors.

  4. In my home county the DMV office in in the same building as the Sheriff's Dept and if you time in right, the middle of the week in the middle of the month, there is almost no wait at all. If, however, you must deal with a more urban office, God help you.