Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 1 at the DMV

(posted first at the Sac Bee NorCal Voices blog which forced me to remove the words "snatch" and "screw" from the piece--see if you can figure out where they might have gone.)

I spent three days at the DMV on Broadway in Sacramento this week attempting to switch a personalized plate from the car we're selling to the car we bought. You may want to read this post before you visit the DMV.

Day 1, Monday, January 26, 1:20pm. I have been to the DMV on Broadway before, of course, and know that without an appointment it's a wait. And it crossed my mind that due to state workers being furloughed on Fridays, it would probably be more backed up than usual, so I packed a snack, homework, and a fully charged cell phone. Still, I was unprepared.

First I spent 20 minutes circling the parking lot looking for a spot. No luck. I cross the street only to be greeted by a large sign that says "no DMV parking." I come back. No parking on the street. Next door is a smaller building with a less menacing but nonetheless unmistakeable-in-intent sign (parking for building employees only), I park there and run to the DMV. After waiting in line at the information booth for only 5 minutes, I have a number, B280. I look at the monitor, and listen to the monotonous voice tone, "now serving B156 at window number 22." I look around, there's not a seat in the place, people are on the floor, crying babies, it's like a refugee camp and my chances of getting called any time soon are next to none.

1:45pm I leave and drive to La Bou on Stockton Blvd. (where I can legally park as a customer). I sip a latte and edit my paper for Classical Philosophy (it's due by email that day).

2:45pm I return to the DMV, spend 5 minutes looking for parking then return to the same illegal lot next door. I run into the DMV to check the monitor. "now serving B196 at window number 4" In an hour, I've moved forward 40 places in line. I develop a hope that many others ahead of me in the B lane have lost the will to live and given up there by moving me up in line at a faster clip than the last 40. I undo my old license plates and take them, prepared to surrender them.

3:10pm After 25 minutes of writing my paper, they are only calling B205, it is hopeless and I must leave to pick my children up from school. I announce to my section of the room that I am leaving and that if anyone wants ticket number B280 they can have it. Only one person grasps that that would be in her interest and eager seized the ticket, throwing money, jewelry and the keys to her car at me in exchange (actually, only a thank you was thrown, but it was sweet).

I leave, put the license plates back on my car and drive off to get kids.

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