Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Ray of Sunshine aT the Unhappiest Place on Earth

I can't express strongly enough how much I hate going to the DMV. It is the Unhappiest Place on Earth. Just watch the people waiting in line as well as the people doomed to eternal government posts, slogging through senseless bureaucracy, with the sole purpose of making things as Difficult as Possible.

Now, I do recognize, that the process of renewing a driver's license, or registering a vehicle, does not have to be that difficult. After all, they send renewal notices by mail, and even have a conveniently located drop box in the DMV office, which, by the way, I have never, ever seen anyone put anything into. For some reason, we never quite meet the criteria for renewal by mail, requiring us to make the arduous journey through the lines of no progress. In addition to registering our cars, I am also in the process of getting the title for a car, a neverending process that will put me in a mental state for which the term "going postal" will not even come close.

My car is the byproduct of a marriage gone bad. We (me and the liar I formerly called a husband) bought this four door beige sedan with the idea of starting our family in the suburban utopia of Gilbert, Arizona. This is now the fastest growing community in the United States, in case you are interested, which most people are not. Well, like the scarecrow, I finally got a brain and left with the beige sedan packed to the gills with all I would need for my new fast track single lifestyle. This car has had endless problems such as needing new brakes every 6 months, an air conditioner that only works in the winter, when I am not pregnant, and blowing a headgasket, requiring a new engine at 50, 000 miles. Part of the divorce judgement, officially endorsed by the court, was that my ex was to pay off our dream car. I bet you will all fall over in shock to learn that he did not make even ONE payment, nor did I know this until the finance company called me threatening repo. I tried explaining to the finance company that I had a legal judgement stating it was the responsibility of that other guy to pay for the car, and although some of the reps were even sympathetic, they hounded me month after month, threatening all sorts of unpleasant action, until I started selling my limbs off one by one to raise the money for my car payment. Over the next few years I paid off this albatross so that I could officially call it mine. Now, I want the title so I can sell the piece of crap to someone who will appreciate the racy shade of beige more than I. I called the finance company to request the title and was told they had already sent it to the jerk who did NOT pay for the car, who I don't have info for, who even if I did, would not bother to send me what is rightfully mine. The rep told me I would need to request a copy from the DMV. Bad news indeed.

In April I went to the DMV, naively believing despite the odds, that it would be a simple process. I stood in the line that says Start Here for 20 minutes, to be handed a number by a surly employee who acted as if I had interrupted her birthday party with my request rather than someone put in a paid position of service to the community. The people there were literally walking slowly, stamping papers slowly, and making sure that nothing was going to happen in any timely manner. When I looked at my number, there were literally 75 numbers ahead of me, and it felt like the waiting room in the movie Beetlegeuse. An hour and 40 minutes later, I made my dazed way to the appropriate window, to be told that I needed a specific document from the finance company. Several months later, I have now acquired said document, and returned Friday to the DMV thinking naively, that this was the Golden Ticket to getting my title. I also thought I could get my registration taken care of while I was there.

Lo and behold I accomplished neither of those things. Again, shocking. Because my car is from out of state, I need to first acquire the title from Arizona, before they can convert the title to California. Could that have not been mentioned in April?! So I can't get the title. Let's just take care of the registration. Oh wait… I could pay for it, but needed some obscure documentation that would need to be dug up from the middle of the Negev Desert, so will need to come back another day to get that precious little sticker. Every little bit of bad news is delivered by a person who may as well be informing me that they have Pepsi instead of Coke, but doesn’t give a rat's ass that it will change the rest of my day.

Today was different. Today I was prepared. Today I had apparantly done something right in the world and been granted a special dispensation from having to wait forever in order to not accomplish what I took time off work to do. I was at the DMV literally less than 30 minutes, and….AND! left with not one, but two stickers for two cars!!! Not only that, but the man who helped me actually smiled at me and told me to have a nice day. And I think he meant it.


cg said...

Oh Mi - this is such a quirky piece of writing, loved it. Good to know that government departments the world over are the same. I always thought it was just us. Yeahh on some success - that is no mean feat

Ann said...

Too funny - but glad I wasn't standing in line. I know I have a 'bang your head on the table' type of story too. The time not well spent makes spending your time well seem like so much more fun.

Glad you have legally registered cars with the DMV.