Posts Tagged ‘DMV’


The DMV Experience

Friday, August 23rd, 2013


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.

IMAG0446-w1200-h1200Because we expected workers making noise near our house, we brought Doppler. The sign next to the door said service dogs only. I’m sticking to my story Doppler’s in the Secret Service.

Thankfully, no one asked and she sat patiently in her bag as we worked our way through the system&#185.

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?

IMAG0445-w1200-h1200Connecticut 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.

&#185 – Click the photo to see a larger version. Look carefully on the floor and you’ll find our pup.


Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Back on October 16 I woke up early and headed to Meriden. I was contesting a ticket I’d been given for Sec. 14-218a. Traveling unreasonably fast.

I’d worked on my best Matlock/Perry Mason defense, but was short circuited. A plea deal was offered. I accepted. My Visa was tapped for a $75 donation to the Connecticut Injured Victims Fund.

Case closed!

Not so fast. This afternoon’s mail brought a serious looking red and black letter from the Connecticut DMV. Here’s the nut graf:


That’s not good!

I called the number listed for Superior Court in Meriden and spoke to Sean in the clerk’s office. It took him ten seconds to check my case and see it had been ‘nollied.’ Unfortunately the DMV suspended my license, not the court.

I dialed the DMV in Wethersfield. If there is a more confusing, time wasting, unfriendly phone system, I haven’t experienced it. Seriously, press one if this is world class awful!

I wended my way through the phone tree branches until I finally reached a point where I could request and operator… and wait.

Guess how long?

I stayed on hold long enough to memorize the hours for the part time offices in Putnam and Winsted. I now know stickers are no longer issued and can be removed from your windshield. The music-on-hold was the same eight bars repeated over-and-over-and-over. It was that special low fidelity music you only hear on hold–the kind that makes you wonder if it is possibly a kazoo band?

I spent 27 minutes on hold!

I am sure if we submitted prisoners-of-war to this music on hold/announcement hell they’d have a cause for action. Maybe damages? I’ll never be the same.

As has been my experience when dealing with humans at the DMV, Matt who answered my call was ready to help.

He asked my name and date-of-birth, told me he saw my case was ‘nolle prossed’ and said it’s been taken care of.

That’s it? No forms? No begging? I am good to go?

Just to be on the safe side I’ve got all the names written down. We’ll see what happens on December 5.

If you see me in shackles you’ll understand.

DMV: Living Down To Expectations

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

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.

This is about a facility so demoralizing it legitimizes every joke or snipe ever made about a DMV facility anywhere!

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.

I tried to kill time. No AT&T service on my phone. It probably cuts down on calls to the suicide prevention hotline.

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.

I left.

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?

The Pass I’ll Use Sparingly

Monday, October 8th, 2012

My plan was to stop at the DMV on my way to work this afternoon. I know. Columbus Day. Oops.

Actually, I know now. I didn’t know then, or at least until I saw the big sign blocking the entrance in Wethersfield.

I went to get a six month handicapped parking pass.

This was one of those iffy things. Should I or shouldn’t I? I only wanted it for work where where it seems like we park in West Hartford… possibly Avon and hoof it back.

Tonight, without having it, the pass seems like a very good idea. I’ve walked and stood more today than over the last two months! I’m not in significant pain, but my right leg is definitely telling me I’ve come to its limit. Pain is the next step–figuratively and literally.

This is so typically a guy thing! Any time I feel OK for a few minutes or a few hours I think I’m fine. Then reality returns.

I head back to the DMV tomorrow (Tuesdays are half days? You’re kidding!) or Wednesday. I promise to use the pass sparingly.

Good Triumphs Over Evil

Friday, June 11th, 2010

My DMV problem has been solved. I got an email from Ann, my guardian angel, this morning. Real humans triumph over “the man!”

Yes, this is what I need and I was able to see the info that I needed. Your case has been dismissed and you will receive Restoration Notice as proof. All set.

It’s possible she knew I was TV boy and that helped me. If that’s the case it went unspoken.

I’d like to think even at the DMV it’s possible to find pockets of goodness. I did.

Bringing The DMV Experience Home

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

When Stef moved we transferred the car to her. She registered it, got a smog certificate and California tags.

Case closed? Of course not!

Yesterday we got a form from the DMV telling us the registration is suspended. That’s fine because the car is properly registered elsewhere. These tags are long gone. Stef doesn’t know where they went. If you’re at a Fridays and see Connecticut marker FORCST on the wall let me know.

We already sent the DMV a form a week or so ago trying to prevent this from happening. Stuff crosses in the mail I suppose.

In the end though everything is proper I’m scared this suspended registration will come back to haunt me. “Mr Fox, we’d love to give you the Nobel Peace Prize, but do you remember that Toyota your daughter drove?” I should have been suspicious when Toyota didn’t recall it this past winter!

I just spoke with Jackie at the DMV’s Insurance Division. Nine minutes on hold with the obligatory ‘we’re shocked at the high call volume’ announcment. Then two minutes with Jackie.

“Wait,” she suggested. And so I will.

Jackie was very nice, but there’s something inherently dysfunctional with anything any state’s DMV touches. They don’t mean to be that way. It’s inherent in the system. It’s unavoidable.

The forms we received and returned are as stark and unfriendly as possible. In black and red type they scream, “We know you’re thinking of an excuse, but we don’t give a s**t so don’t even try.”

Even the on-hold messages which were surely designed to be friendly and helpful were unfriendly, unhelpful and often seemed condescending. And, again, I know DMV put the messages on with a pure heart. No human is strong enough to overcome the DMV curse!

Hopefully when we return from California the mess will have straightened itself out. However, if it hasn’t I’ll bet they’ll again be surprised by the high call volume.