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February 24, 2004
Licensed to Drive
Holy shitty morning, Batman. One of the shittiest I can remember. And there wasn't even some harrowing adventure of compounding mishaps and minor tragedies. Rather, the Geester and I simply went to our local DMV to forfeit our Oregon driver's licenses (and all the street cred that goes with them) in favor of shiny new Georgia licenses that boldly display Sonny "In The Hands Of An Angry God" Perdue's signature right above the photo.
I know I can't be surprised by what a horrible experience the DMV provides. It is one of life's absolute guarantees. Being surprised by the inconvenience and despair of the DMV is akin to discovering that airplane food tastes like shit. I think my problem is that I forget how bad it was the time before. And I assume that the issue of "utter fucking customer misery" will have been duely addressed by the time I return. Alas, every time is worse than I could have possibly expected. It's stupefying how inefficient the system is, how rude and lazy the employees are, and how little is done to appease the disgruntled masses on the most basic levels.
We arrived a half hour before they opened to get a good spot in line. We were probably 70th or so. Sweet. The doors finally opened and everyone moved forward 4 feet. The roster of characters in line was so bizarre and disturbing that it actually made my stomach growl with worry. Most notably were two disgustingly fat and greasy 15-year-olds who were there to get their learner's permits. They fancied themselves part of the hip-hop community, based on their huge (ironically) athletic clothing, and pseudo-gangster demeanors. One was wearing headphones around his neck with his discman turned up full blast so as to provide his obese retardedness with a soundtrack. These blobs were about as white trash as white trash gets, stereotypical peach-fuzz moustaches and all. Their moms joined them in line when they got close to getting in the front door and gave them cigarettes, a gesture that was met with complaints about the brand of smokes their mothers had chosen. Standing in line, staring unabashedly at these specimens, the reality of America growing fatter, dumber, meaner, fatter, dirtier, more diabetic, more cancerous, and fatter became unsettlingly clear. And all this before 9:45 am.
A little over an hour after we got in line we arrived to the first destination: The Bouncer. You present your reason for being at the DMV to the bouncer and the bouncer gives you a number. Despite the hour of waiting, this is where the process actually starts. They won't even acknowledge that you farted if you don't have a number.
With our numbers, we waited for about another hour. The numbering convention is A through J followed by a three digit number. They call them at total random. There's no way to tell what the hell is going on. I decided this was to keep people ignorant so they can't get mad or try to interfere with the process. Our numbers were finally called, and we presented our materials (passport, proff of residence, Oregon license) to the clerk. They fill out an application while asking you questions and give you an eye exam. They stamp some stuff and send you to the next station: the typist.
This is where it gets really bottlenecked. There are four clerks performing triage. There is one typist. And people there for basic renewals don't even have to see the clerk. They go straight from the bouncer to the typist. If the typist has a problem, say, some guy wants a Georgia license despite having a suspended license in Oklahoma (I don't know how that asshole got a number to begin with), the whole progress comes to an immediate halt. Here's the real kicker: To appease hotheads like me, Georgia has a 30-minute renewal guarantee or your renewal is free. The clock starts ticking after you get a number. What this means is that renewals get priority in the queue. We stood before the typist for an HOUR AND A HALF and watched renewals trickle in from the parking lot, get a number, and proceed straight through the typist and on to the camera. My number could have been next, but so long as there was even one renewal in line, they got to go first. One renewal turned around after finishing with the typist and asked me if I was in line for the camera. I snapped, "OH NO. YOU GET TO GO WAIT RIGHT BY THE CAMERA AND THEY'LL CALL YOUR NUMBER NEXT!" No sooner had I stopped talking than the automated intercom said, "Now serving [his number] at the camera counter." He looked at his feet like I had just told him his yo mama joke wasn't funny because my mama had died this morning.
I finally made it to the camera station and my picture is nicely indicative of the rage that was coarsing through me. It was now noon and we had been there for almost 4 hours. Like I said before, not surprising, but definitely infuriating.
The whole DMV concept is such an energy suck that I get tired and cranky just thinking about it. I want to write about how strange and ironic and frustrating it is that DMV employees become incensedand uncooperative when customers display the slightest hint of being inconvenienced. I want to flesh out Andy-esque ideas like why don't they contract DMV services out to the private sector, mark-up the cost a couple bucks a person, make it a profit center, bolster some competition, and get these wait-times down, eh? I could write endlessly about the cultural significance of the people in line at the DMV as a sample of society.
But I would rather try to stop a weed-eater with my teeth than think about it anymore. I'll post my new license photo when I get a few minutes.
Tonight the Duke and I are going to see Allen Iverson hump the Hawks. Iverson is the only player on EITHER team that I can name. I can't name a single Hawk. This is because I hate basketball, but professional sporting events are fun in person, so count me in.Posted by tony at February 24, 2004 03:20 PM