The Department of Motor Vehicles -Two Days, Three Trips … oh no,not again

Posted: February 23, 2012 in My Whirled
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So, couple days back I notice my car  registration expired. Totally forgot that when you buy a used car in California, they don’t give you new tags.  Your registration fee is only good until the date that is already on the vehicle.  Well, I bought that zippy little blue Subaru in June, so I wasn’t thinking about this problem, ya know? But it should be easy.  Foolish mortal.

So, off to the Department of Motor Vehicles I go. Easy.  I take a number, plop my ass down and read my book.  Easy. In less time than I expected – this  IS the California DMV after all, my number comes up-  Easy.  I proceed to the window, turn over paperwork, chat a bit.  Easy.  Start to pay.  Easy. Then I discovered the insurance card I had was old, expired even.  Not Easy. They have Rules About These Things.  Never remembered to print out the new one I received via email.  I go home, no use fighting that battle. Not even an hour total.  Oh, well, things happen.

Something was bothering me…something about the people I was waiting with.  I’m bemused for a while, but nothing comes to me.  It’s not like they were the Walking Dead.  Couple were pretty pale, sure, but I doubt they were vampires.

So I’m set to go back today, but before I go, I read my new policy – I changed it after selling my beloved old BMW last week, and now only needed insurance on one vehicle, you know the  “little blue Subaru”, the only one I own now? Well, it wasn’t on the policy.  They took off the wrong car.

Facepalm.  I slowly shake my head.  Bloody hell. Time to call Customer Service.

Ray of sunshine! I get right through.  She seems competent.  I explain about the whole “wrong car” thing .  She tries to open my policy. And then she says “I’m sorry sir, but my system just crashed and I can’t correct your policy right now, I’ve just called IT for help. Umm”…

I’m not an asshole in these situations.  Typical call center rep HAS to call IT when things like this happen.  They’re not allowed to work on their PCs.

“Can you transfer me to someone whose computer is working? It’s kind of  a problem, you know, the wrong car? Car I’m driving over there uninsured?  The DMV will probably notice that.” See? It is that easy.

“Sorry, sir, the phone system is tied to our accounts program… it’s all down” – she sounded worried.

“Can I have someone call you ? at (my correct cell number)”.

“Sure.”  I’m resigned to failure this time.  Time for  plan B: I’ll eat lunch, wait for a call and  THEN go.

An hour later a new policy drops into my email.  Guess they figured out the trouble.  Yes, the right vehicle is there. Print this baby out and I’m good to go.  Find printer, power cord, USB and….PRINT!

My ink has run dry.  I don’t have a spare. Sigh.  OK, go to FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) and print, THEN to the DMV.

Hell, it’s now after 3 when I arrive.  I wait for a number, then read my book.  Hmm – no one else is reading.  Just one old dude in the next row.  Now, at forty, kids call me “old” and it would be a little odd for me to date a 20-something. But I am not old- that guy, he was old.  He looked happy and healthy though, and if he’s at the DMV then  he can still drive. Good for him.  And he is the only other person reading to pass the time.  Few cell phones in use, a couple texting, couple music fans.  But most were just… sitting there.  Kind of zombie like.  Not grim but all rather sad looking.  This kind of unnerved me.  More on that later.

It is the same routine, but now all is in order. My number is called, station 17.  Papers shuffle, I hand her my debit card.

“Declined” — tries again “Declined”- and I just checked my balances, I have plenty in there.  I look at the credit card terminal.  Suspicious because the only other place this happened, they had a particular brand of credit card machine – a Hypercom.  Those who know me know just how much I know about these machines, they are readily spotted by the color and layout of their keypads and printers.

And…the DMV has exclusively Hypercoms.   We try it at three stations.  I know what’s wrong, mag stripe is weak and the terminal is not picking up all the needed bits of data off my card, simply hand keying it will allow it to process.  I also know there is no way to convince her to hand key the card number. They get too much fraud.

I don’t have enough cash to cover it.  It’s 4:15.

I ask her if I can skip the line when I come back? She says sure, but I have to be in the door before 5. I jog to the car.  My bank is only five or so minutes away.  Fifteen minutes later I’m back with cash, walk right in, wait while she finishes her current customer and…done and done.

But I can’t stop thinking – no one else was reading to pass the time?  What does this mean about our society?  That out of forty+ people, 25-30 just sat there, staring, not talking or reading?

Is it the DMV that sucks the life from those who enter its doors?  Maybe, but I don’t recall it being this way years ago.

I think what I saw was mass mild DMV induced despair.  If I had this much trouble just getting registered when I wasn’t expecting to, what other night mares must those people be dealing with?

Just a theory.


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