Nine years ago, I took a photo trip on the Staten Island Ferry. After the trip I wrote about the waiting room:
If there is a more depressing public space in America, I have not seen it. This building is screaming, “We really don’t give a s*** about you.” The waiting room was drab. Even if it were clean it would seem dirty… but it was dirty.
The waiting room has since been replaced.
Yesterday I found my new ‘most depressing place.’ It’s the DMV building in Wethersfield. I was there attempting to get a temporary handicapped parking pass.
Before I go on, I know there is at least one DMV employee who reads my blog. This is not about DMV workers. I only dealt with one DMV employee. She was nice as can be.
You feel it walking in. The walls are cinder block and drab. The floor is linoleum tile. The lighting is fluorescent. It’s like stepping back to 1957.
I took the elevator to the second floor, walked down a hallway and into the large room where DMV and public meet.
A casually dressed woman asked why I was there? There were six in front of me I was told. My singular human contact handed me a ticket she pulled from a printer on her waist and told me to wait. It wouldn’t be long.
As time went by I realized the letter on my ticket, “E,” related to the service I needed.
I sat down on a molded plastic chair and looked around. The drab motif from the hallway continued, but now there were posters and signs on the walls. Each was a different size and different typeface. It seemed as if each was added when needed with no regard to what preceded it or where it would be displayed.
Thoughtless! That’s the best way to describe the room’s decor. It is not the kind of neglect that leaves a room dirty, but the kind that leaves it cold and unwelcome.
Uncaring fits here too.
Overhead monitors were displaying tickets currently being served. New tickets were announced by an automated monotonous human voice then displayed on the screens.
It was mind numbing.
35 minutes in I realized no “E” tickets had been called!
I went to the woman with the printer. She disappeared to check.
The person who knew was running the camera, she said. A few minutes to find out.
There were still six people in front of me! Even if solved immediately there was no way to get my pass and get to work on time.
Governments do some things well–not everything. We put robotic laboratories on Mars and produce scenes like this DMV office!
When employees are placed in a loud, poorly thought out, disorganized space they can’t do their best job. Aesthetics make a difference to employees and customers. Making a place warm and functional has a cost, but a cost with a payoff.
I wish I knew many times the commissioner’s office has been redecorated since these public areas last had a makeover?