(Mike Thaler hasn’t written “DLD from the Black Lagoon”–but he should.)
My driver’s license expired. I had to go to the Driver’s License Division to get it renewed.
But I’d heard terrible stories about the DLD: The lines are so long I’d lose feeling in my legs; the workers are cannibals; the back room is used for torturing people with incorrect documentation; if you fail your eye test, you go on the driving range and run in front of the teenagers getting their licenses.
(Why didn’t I bring my glasses???)
But I had to get it done. I’m a law-abiding citizen.
So I gathered up all the papers I had in my home and headed out. I created a “renewal defense” as I drove toward my destination, practicing my astonished expression using the following phrases:
“But I didn’t know I needed to bring that information.”
“The eye chart looks blurry because I’ve spent the morning squinting.”
“I can’t believe that’s my driving record you’re looking at.”
“Of course that’s how much I weigh!!!!”
As I pulled into the parking lot, my breath became shallow. A woman walked out of the building crying. A discouraged young man sifted through the ashtray, looking for a smokeable cigarette butt. “Oh, no. They’ve beaten everyone down,” I thought.
(And this is just the PRE-line.)
I walked into the building, where flourescent lights flickered ominously, and filled out the application. Then I went to stand in line.
But there was no line. I spoke with a friendly woman who took my picture and checked my application. (She must be the one giving you a false sense of security before they lock you in a room and ask you how far you should park from the fire hydrant.)
I was given a number and told to take a seat. “Here it comes,” I thought. “The two-hour wait.”
Luckily, I had my book, several magazines, Twinkies, Cheetos and a pillow. But I hadn’t read two pages when my number was called. Trying not to look surprised (or guilty), I headed toward the renewal counter, ready to counter any argument if they asked for a blood or urine sample. But no. A pleasant young man took my information, checked my eyes, charged me $25 and sent me on my way.
(Prepared to read for the next five hours.)
What?! Nothing to roll my eyes at in frustration? No ridiculous rule I hadn’t obeyed?
I hesitantly walked toward the exit, waiting for security to drag me into the basement for the real renewal process. Once I was safely in my car, I realized I hadn’t breathed for 5 minutes. I filled my lungs, started my car and drove home, new license in my wallet.
We often lambast government entities for being inefficient timesuckers, but this time, they actually got it right. Sincere thanks.