Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lessons from the DMV

Dear Diary,
Oh, Department of Motor Vehicles, let me count thy ways!

Really, you don't spend 1.5 hours of your life at the DMV without observing humanity at its finest. Or do I mean without observing the finest of humanity?

I step into that cold, cement-walled building with all the optimism of a 15-year-old getting her driver's permit.  (Did I mention my daughter was with me?) 

Yes, there is a sea of humans seated in the waiting area behind the glass wall dividing my line from their masses; but, no, I don't let that sway me.  I don't falter.  I stride up to the first DMV checkpoint.  I have my file folder full of every ID paper known to me and my daughter.  And the first thing we are asked is, "Do you have the blue and white form the driver instructor gave you?"  Blink.  What?  Huh?  Blue form....blue form.  A few moments of shuffling past the credit card bill, school report card, birth certificate, and voila!  I find a white form with blue ink:  the permit application.  Phew! Crisis averted. Not exactly a blue form, but it's mute now, let's move on.  We are given a number and told to "Please take a seat.  Computers were down for a bit this morning, so I'm not sure what the wait is."  (Why do I feel like the "computers were down for a bit" every time I walk into the DMV?)

LESSON:  Be prepared.  Show confidence.  And don't hesitate to clarify what is asked of you.

Well, the wait is thirty-plus minutes of sitting with the masses, staring at the number board along with everyone else. Numbers are called, and we all peek with envy at the person who stands up in response, a pleased-as-punch look on his/her face.  And the calling system was not exactly numerical, so we waited for the next number posting with eager anticipation. Are we next?  I remember years ago when I was getting my permit.  We didn't have the luxury of sitting down to wait our turn.  We had to be herded, weaving around the room Disney-line-style, to the next available clerk.  Only this ain't Disney.

LESSON:  Sometimes waiting is part of life. [For more on this, reference The Cell Phone Lot, 9/15/12]  In a lull? Anticipate.  Be ready when your number is called. 

Our number was called, and with our "pleased as punch" expressions, we approach checkpoint #2. I can tell this guy is a seasoned employee.  But he is a pleasant fellow, not a bitter one.  Nice to banter with.  First-time-permit-obtaining-mom type of banter. 

LESSON:  Pleasant encounters lead to good impressions.

Checkpoint #3 was the payment line.  A very quick, no-hassle line in which to hand over our cash. Not hard to find a lesson in that.

On to checkpoint #4: The Written Test.  This is the first emotionless, blank-faced employee we've encountered. But this is the written test! This is the time we need assurances that everything will be alright!  We need that warm smile, those kindly eyes, telling us:  "I don't know you, but from the looks of you, I'm sure you are smart.  You will be fine.  Don't let this colorless, windowless, room full of old desks intimidate you.  I'll be here for you when its over."

LESSON:  Sometimes our success needs to be determined by our own will, because we may not always get encouragement from others.

This is getting long, so I'll wrap this up.  My daughter passed, and we breezed out the door with a driver's permit in hand. 

LESSON:  When faced with an unpleasant task, get the hubby to do it.

Most patiently,


  1. Oh, the DMV.

    Tobin and I paid a visit there with a 6 week-old in tow a couple of years ago. Thank goodness we had the baby with us...I think they took pity on us and didn't make us wait as long. They did yell at us for talking during the written test, though.

    Ooops. Lesson learned?

    Happy Thanksgiving, friend! :)

    1. Yes, I wouldn't want to be on the anger end of those folks. Happy Thanksgiving to your family too!