Helaine and I drove to Santa Ana this afternoon. It’s California’s closest DMV office and we had an appointment! That’s right. You can make an appointment at the DMV.
Be still my beating heart.
Thankfully, no one asked and she sat patiently in her bag as we worked our way through the system¹.
Good news for anyone planning to move to California from out-of-state. The DMV office looked like a DMV office. You will not suffer culture shock!
The building is squat on the outside, spartan on the inside. It looks as if someone went to Costco, got a large box of people and just poured them in. As with all DMVs everywhere, nothing looks friendly. No one looks happy.
A clerk I dealt with told me he had to leave for a minute. He asked me to wait. Then he took out a key and locked his desk drawer before disappearing.
He was back a minute later, unlocked the drawer and picked up where we left off. Who was he protecting against?
Connecticut and other states could learn a lot from the California DMVs appointment system. We thought the line we were directed to was long, but it moved quickly and we were called at our scheduled time.
No sense coming early. 1:15 appointments are taken at 1:15. “Get a cup of coffee,” one early applicant was told.
What’s troubling was another, longer line which ran through the building and out the door. It was mostly brown skinned people wearing work clothes. A computer oriented appointment system leaves out those too poor for computers or those unable to navigate the system. That seems unfair.
“Do you have a passport or birth certificate,” the woman behind the desk asked at our appointed time?
You’re kidding? No one mentioned passports.
Though we’d both studied the California written test that awaited us, we hadn’t planned for this. We went 0 for 2 on licenses!
“Are both cars here,” she continued?
We came in Helaine’s car. Both cars had already been smog tested. We came with proof of insurance and our clear titles for both. We didn’t realize there was also a physical inspection at the DMV to make sure our cars were our cars.
Helaine got her plates. I did not. 1 for 2.
As soon as we got home I made another DMV appointment–another two week wait. This time we’ll come with everything we can think of.
No one wants too much DMV.
¹ – Click the photo to see a larger version. Look carefully on the floor and you’ll find our pup.