Friday, December 6, 2013

My DMV Adventure

Over the past several weeks I have made quite a few snide remarks about my frustrating experience with the Division of Motor Vehicles. I have alluded to rude and incompetent employees, bureaucratic paper shuffling, and even used my experience to illustrate what we might expect once Obamacare is fully implemented. First a bit of background.

My Mom died in June of 2012. By the time Dad’s county tags for his van had to renew in October of this year, Hanover County refused to issue new tags since my Mother had passed away in the interim and her name was on the title. So, in order to get new tags issued, I had to remove Mom’s name from said title. This would involve contacting the DMV for instructions as to how to proceed. Thus began my three week odyssey within the bowels of the dehumanizing, soul-crushing world of government bureaucracy.

Anyone who has visited the DMV knows the drill. You walk in and are greeted with a sign that says that before you can join the throngs of people sitting in plastic chairs waiting for service, you must first stand in the information line. This is a line that snakes across the back of the sterile, strange smelling room where you wait to tell a bored Asian woman why you are at the DMV in the first place, to which she says, “I not sure this will work,” then gives you a piece of paper with a number…C123. Discouraging, but at least I’m now in a plastic chair.

The man next to me has mud-caked boots and smells of bourbon at 9:30 in the morning, all the while mumbling “mo***r fu**ng government.” I decide to stand. After 15 minutes, a woman’s voice announces over the cracking PA system, “now serving number C123 at station 11,” in that halting, robotic, creepy simulated human voice sort of way. I find station 11 and am greeted by an extremely pale woman, who without once looking up from her computer screen says, “What do you need?”

I proceed to share my tale of woe. I explain my two previous visits, I detail the difficulty I’ve had with all of the incorrect instructions I have been given by her colleagues that has caused me considerable angst. I lay out all of the completed paperwork in front of her, hoping to impress her with my due diligence. There’s Mom’s death certificate, a copy of my Power of Attorney, a Title transfer and change authorization form and all of the pertinent vehicle data. The pale one looks at the forms, then without explanation disappears behind the opaque glass wall behind her. This has happened on both of my previous visits. This is the place where DMV apparatchiks go to get away from me and plot their strategy for my destruction. Whenever they return from this cone of silence, it is never good news. Bad, even sinister things always seem to happen behind the opaque glass wall. She spends a full seven minutes back there before emerging, her face a mass of complete nonchalance. She says nothing to me. Instead she begins frantically typing away on her keyboard. Finally, after another four wordless minutes she grunts, “you be paying for one year or two?” Forty minutes after entering the DMV for the third time in as many weeks, I leave clutching my Dad’s county tags proudly in my hand. I immediately went home and took a shower.

The day before my triumph, my Dad got the following letter from the DMV.


The professional government employee who typed this letter has the most coveted possession in all of America. She has a guaranteed government job from which she can never be fired. She has very generous benefits, plenty of perks and never has to compete for anything. And this poor woman can’t even spell the street name of her employer’s address correctly. …To have you wifes name refomved has become an instant classic in my house.

Yeah, I’m sure the fears about government run health care are all overblown. What could possibly go wrong?