Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jesus Loves Me. The DMV? Not So Much.

Just one in a series of Ungirdled rants.

I’ll admit it.  I was not expecting a smooth, short or carefree experience going in.  But, I was determined for Thing One to get his learner’s permit.  Thing Two had gotten his a few months earlier with his dad.  Thing One was not too interested in driving as he was happy having a chauffeur on retainer.  (I obviously work for an continuouis stream of insults, derogatory nicknames and eye rolls.) 

Based on prior, lengthy tours of duty at the DMV, I knew what I might be up against.  Despite hell the DMV having a policy against bringing in food and drink, I packed bottled waters, snacks, pain reliever, several books, and I made sure to notify our next of kin of our whereabouts, as I knew we were likely to be MIA for quite some time.  I also took tweezers, as at my age, I knew unwanted hair would surely sprout during the time it typically takes to conduct a DMV transaction.  (Why don’t they have out-of-work people employed there to give you mani-pedis or massages while you wait?  You could have your income taxes done, your teeth whitened, liposuction – all kinds of things during the time it takes for you to be called for your turn.)  While I knew the battle would be long and hard, I was confident we would complete our mission.  I was as wrong as the DMV lines are long.

We entered the modern, new DMV at approximately 0930.  It was brightly lit with 15 service windows all manned my soulless dolts DMV employees at state-of-the-art computers.  This was very different from the DMV of my youth!  Surely, with the new technology and so many service windows, this would go much quicker and easier than I imagined!

First, we needed to wait in a rather lengthy line to see a curt woman who would give us the form we needed to fill out and a number to be called when it was our turn to go up to the designated service window.  As we waited 15 minutes to see the first woman, I began to notice the dozens of customers sitting in the chairs in front of those windows.  Some filling out their forms.  Some knitting.  Some dozing off.  Some staring into space with vacant expressions.  I noticed no one was reading and I soon learned why. 

After you fill out your form, you must W…A…I…T for your number to be called over a speaker system and displayed on an electronic marquee.  The “numbers” are a combination of letters and numbers and they are not called sequentially or in any discernable pattern.  They might run like this:


would be followed by


followed by


There was no way you could read a book as you waited, as you had to be alert for your number and the window you were to report to.  After almost an hour, our number, SCKER42 was called to report to window 4.  The representative asked how she could make our lives a living hell help. We reported we were there for a learner’s permit.  “Oh,” she said completely stunned as she looked around.  “Well.  We’ll have to find someone who can take a picture.”  It was as though I had asked my optometrist to remove my ingrown toenail.  We seemed to have really  stumped the DMV with this request.  I was kinda thinking this was THEIR specialty.  I mean what else do they do besides permits, driver’s licenses and vehicle registration?  Is there something I don’t know about?  Based on my observations, it surely wasn’t setting fashion trends. 

Anyhooo…the woman typed some things in her computer screen and then told us to meet her at the opposite end of the counter that ran the length of the building.  There, she and another colleague had a lengthy pow-wow about who they could possibly get to operate the camera.  After much discussion, the first woman disappeared to the back for several minutes and produced a third woman who had to take Thing One’s photo SIX TIMES before she got one she deemed adequate. 

The second woman then told us to wait while she got the “test set up.” This took about 10 minutes.  Thing One took the test and passed.  Then we did more waiting for the second woman who was busily typing into a computer.  Thing One reported the spelling of his name had appeared incorrectly on the computer he took the test on, to which the woman relied, “Well, that’s no good.  You’re going to have to go back down to window 4 to have that fixed.”

We explained the error to the first woman at window 4.  “Oh, well that’s going to take a few minutes to fix.”  She began punching away at her computer while we waited some more and then said I needed to write a check for $19. As I handed her the check, she looked up from her computer and said, “Oh, we won’t be able to do this today, because the NDR is down.”  I paused, smiled and looked around, as I was sure we were being punked. 

“What’s that?” I asked. 

“The NDR is down.  We can’t do this today,” she said. 

“He doesn’t get his learner’s permit today?” I asked. 

“No.  The NDR is down.” 

“So today has been a waste of time?” I asked. 

“No,” she said.  He passed the test.” 

“Oh, so his permit gets mailed to us?” I asked, hopefully. 

“Oh, no,” she replied.  “You have to come back and go through the line again, and fill out the form and have your photo taken,” she said.  

“So we do the entire thing again?” I asked a bit miffed. 

 “Yes, but he passed the test.” 

“Can I get some kind of receipt saying he passed,” I asked, determined to have something to show for my time there besides the symptoms of inevitable post-traumatic stress disorder.  “And can you tell me WHAT THE NDR IS?” 

“It’s the National Data Registry.  We have to make sure he has no prior convictions,” she said matter-of-factly. 

“He can’t even muster up the energy to shut the refrigerator!  He has no priors!” I wanted to say. 

Totally defeated, we left the battlefield at approximately 1200 with our receipt which came in handy to wave as a white flag. 

Forget “Survivor.”  They need to drop a group at the DMV and film a reality show based on their experiences there.  I'm thinking I'd pretty much rather eat bugs or sleep outside than go there again.

Cartoon by Mark Parisi,


  1. Lady, you got some funny in you.

  2. aren't they great! I thinkthe breed them just plain stupid!

  3. Klynch - I think perhaps "in-bred" might best describe the particular individuals who I encountered that day!

    Doug - coming from you, that is sweeter than a dozen hot Krispy Kremes as you are one funny dude - Doug and his twin brother have their own, HYSTERICAL blog - the Dyer Boys - link is to the left under great places to visit!

    Thanks for stopping by guys!

  4. LOL!!!

    How funny is it that you and I are going through our driving woes at the same time???

    How weird too that DMV offices are exactly the same here in Canada!

    Terrific blog :-)