Six Hours at the DMV

September 22, 2010 by  

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So yesterday I literally spent 6 hours at the DMV.  I tweeted about it a few times and was asked to share my experience on another blog. I decided to include my comment here:

I moved back to California after living out of state. It is such a cliché that the DMV is the embodiment of inefficiency but it’s so painfully true.

I had to park a street over because there was no parking. I waited in a hour long line to get to the front desk and get a number. I had to go get my car so I could wait in a line to have VIN verified. I then waited an hour and a half to have my number called. Registered my car and then set about getting a California Drivers License. I was sent to the back of a line that wound outside.

Halfway through the line the security guard had a break in the line from the door to the inside, probably for fire code reason, but it opened up the line inside for 4 line cutters. This whole time I was being patient and even pleasant with my fellow line mates. The cutters set me off a bit and not just because they cut but the security guard who was the author of the whole mess tried to chew me out saying that he knew where the end of the line was and there hadn’t been any cutters!

I saw what must be the DMV manager or supervisor watch as the whole place descended into angry bickering among everyone from the workers, the line, the security guard, the cutters…it was a mess. Eventually he devised a Post-It note number system so as to insure line integrity. First and only sign of initiative to fix or improve a broken system.

Did I mention there was only ONE camera?! Eventually, I took my picture only to then be directed to another line for a written test, another line to have that graded, and a final line to get my temporary license. Line line line line! It was bad enough that a kid was able to pull out a DMV Test Prep book and use it as he took his test.

It was a horrific experience. Early in the wait, the Post-It note manager made several announcements about how long the wait is and offered to schedule appointments for another day.

  1. I am NOT taking another day off work to come back and deal with this again.
  2. I spoke with a few individuals that HAD appointments only to be shuffled into the same lines with the same wait!
  3. Only at a government agency could you pitch inefficiency to turn away patrons! No private business could survive!

Unlike the experience of many, most of the DMV agents were nice, humorous and sympathetic! That didn’t change the utter waste in time and resources that is everywhere. Just in line I heard suggestion after suggestion from my fellow travelers on how to improve the system. How and why is someone not taking the initiative to make things better!? I ask but really, it’s government, was it any different with the post office? FedEx, UPS, DHL ran circles around USPS until it semi-privatized and incorporated innovation.

The scarier question staring us in the face, that we honestly have to answer is, how is healthcare going to be any different?

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