Thursday, September 10, 2009

another glorious visit to the DMV

Back in April, I bemoaned the fact that our visit to the DMV to obtain new driver's licenses after we moved took over two hours. Well, beloved readers, it has happened again.

Tuesday morning's errands began at my favorite place on earth: the DC DMV. It's been nine years since I frequented any other state's DMV, but I cannot imagine that any other place has a poorer run organization. Brad and I arrived at 8 a.m. and assumed our place in line. The station was supposed to open at 8:15 a.m. Shortly after opening time, an employee announced that the security guard had not shown up for work and that they weren't allowed to open the doors without a security presence. The crowd's feisty attitude only accelerated over the HOUR that it took for a replacement security guard to arrive. I expected to have to walk through a metal detector. But at 9:20 a.m. when I finally entered the building, I realized that the security guard's sole purpose seemed to be to hold the door open for me.

Because Brad and I were near the front of the line, we were both quickly served and we each paid the requisite $7 fee for a replacement license. My mood improved when I was called over to the photo booth only moments later. All the woman had to do was print my license and then I could be off to the next errand. But as we all know, it's never that easy at the DMV. As soon as I walked up to the counter, the woman exclaimed, "The machine just broke!" and then disappeared behind a curtain for about ten minutes. When she failed to return, I suspected that she ducked out for a smoke break. She finally came back with her supervisor, and told me that the machine had broken and that she had no idea how to fix it. Keep in mind that I was one of the first customers to request a license, so I don't understand how the machine "broke" before she even used it. The hour delay in opening obviously wasn't enough of a break for her. I resumed my seat next to Brad and we settled in for the wait.

I couldn't help but ponder the irony that the DMV's cash register never seems to break.

AN HOUR later, after finally being moved to another clerk with a newer printer, Brad and I had our licenses again, and were on our way. We've been forced to visit the DMV three times in the last nine months; I do hope that I will have no need to set foot in a DMV for years.

Now that I have a driver's license again, I am reliving the joy I experienced as a teenager when I opened my first checking account. As a 16-year-old, how I loved scrawling my signature on the bottom line! But now I've turned into the lady at the grocery store who holds up the check-out line because she has to write a check. As I see the other customers' dirty looks and hear their sighs of impatience and groans when I whip out my checkbook, it's all I can do to refrain from turning to them and simply saying, "I'm sorry. Only seven more business days to go and I'll be swiping the plastic just as fast as I can."

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