Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adventures in inefficiency...

The local DOT has never been an efficient place. This is not news to anyone. I've been known to fall into a fit of giggles in a goverment office just thinking of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because that's exactly how these offices work. The last time I renewed my license, it was the same old routine. Check in at the desk, show your old non-valid ID to prove you're an American citizen, take a number and wait, go through the b.s. paperwork and eye test, then wait in line for your new photograph - guaranteed to be just as awful as the last one. Freshly laminated licenses were passed out as they came out of the computer, and they called your name or just brought it to you if you looked anything like your picture. Not exactly the most efficient system, especially when there is only one, just ONE DOT in the whole of Polk County, heaviest populated in the state.

The folks at the DOT decided that the old system just wasn't working, so they closed an extra day (they're already closed on Mondays) to rearrange the waiting area and counters for their new "time-saving" plan. Now when you need a new license, things will go a bit differently. You still check in at the desk and verify you are who you say you are. You still take a number. Only now your number is for the photo, which they take right away in case you need it later. You take another number, this time to wait for a window to fill out your paperwork. After that, you move on to the eye test area. If you make it through the gauntlet, you sit and wait for your license to be printed. This may take a while since they have to match the paperwork you just filled out to the photo you posed so beautifully for (hours) earlier. If you fail your eye test, or if there are other reasons keeping you from getting your license that day, the photo you didn't even need will remain in the computerized license-laminator thingy until someone deletes it.

The waiting area is about 100 x 30 and there are seats for as many as 75 people (I'm thinking closer to 50). Babies are crying. Old ladies are standing against the wall, leaning on their walkers. Enormous women wearing housedresses and slippers are yelling, "J.D. you get your ass down from that chair or I'll knock your damn head off!" People in wheelchairs are blocking the walkway and can't do anything about it. And everyone is angry. The people working there are even more grumpy than normal. You may hear the word "bullshit" a thousand times before you get out of there. I would like to think the folks at the DOT would quickly realize their mistake and remedy it, but knowing how things work they'll probably file some paperwork and wait for the next scheduled system update, somewhere around 3 years from now.

If you live in Polk County and need to renew your license, you have been warned. If you have kids, get a sitter. If you work, just take the whole day off. Waiting through an asinine mess like that is much easier to handle when you're not also worrying about being fired.

1 comment:

Ami said...


I don't live where you do, but I think there's some kind of national law that alllll of them, (ours is called the DMV) have to be slow, inefficient, stupid, and crowded for the people who work there to really feel like they've done their jobs. Last time I was in, I sat next to a guy who was 28 years old and about to be married. He said he'd been driving since he was 14 and thought maybe he should get a license before the big day.
The amount of time that's elapsed since then makes it almost certain that he's reproduced by now.