Thursday, August 2, 2012

To Hell and Back at the DMV

Brace yourselves for a long read ahead. Squish into that perfect, cozy position in your armchair, take a deep breath, and dive in.

Public hysteric outbursts are not common for me. I try to remain calm, cool and collected. Yet I thrust the three Cs out the window when the DMV "drove" me to insanity today (get that pun?). I burst into tears for all onlookers to gawk at. My behavior suggested a need for asylum commitment and electric shock therapy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest style.

Aside from my treatment by employees with seemingly nil customer service training at the infamous but unavoidable DMV, a few other factors contributed to my breakdown. My inability to obtain a cup of coffee caused my evil, uncaffeinated twin to emerge from the shadows. Trust me, you want her in the shadows. She is a force to be reckoned with. This factor was a direct cause of the DMV, however; lady-with-no-customer-service-skills number one informed me that going to the coffee shop next door invalidated my number. I'm getting ahead of myself. By the time that lady deprived me of caffeine, I was already past the point of maintaining mental stability.


I digress...

The world was quiet at 4:30 AM when I awoke. A yawn and a stretch later, I was ready to face the world head-on. My plan was to go to 5:30 yoga and then hit the DMV as soon as they opened. I anticipated approximately two hours to complete my vehicle registration. Never in my wildest nightmare could I fathom what would come...

Yoga put me in a serene mood- the kind where I want to bare a toothy grin to every stranger I pass and wish them well in their daily endeavors while skipping down the street. My mood paralleled that of Maria during her "I Have Confidence in Me" number. I took that attitude with me to the DMV. I read my book in the line. The employees impressed me with their efficiency in handing out forms to those waiting for the facility to open. I got my number. Things were still on track. I only had to wait briefly before my number was called.

Road Block Number One: The Vehicle Verification
"Ma'am, did you get your vehicle verified?"
"No, where do I go for that?"
"Drive 'round the back"

Wow. Specific. 'Round the back.

I followed her instructions and parked behind three other cars waiting to be verified. I am still in serene mode, but the caffeine desire began to surface. I reassured myself that this would only take a little bit longer before I would be sipping a coffee waiting for work to begin. The vehicle-verifier guy could not have taken his job any less seriously. He was chatting idly with an employee about post-work plans and whether or not he could get somewhere by a certain road that his friend was convinced was a one-way street. Though this irked me, I was kind with him as well. I cleared this hurdle- verification complete.

Road Block Number Two: The Smog Test
The lady I first saw let me walk right up to her counter. I felt more VIP than the president. She looked through my forms and ignored my attempts at idle chatter while doing so. Then after charging my card, she informed me that until I returned later with a smog certification, I could not complete the process. I asked her where to do that and she said "look it up". Some help...

So I looked it up and drove to the location where I learned it would take another hour and another $55. My sweaty yoga clothes were still in the car, and since I had an hour to kill while they tested my car, I decided to take the bus to my apartment to hang them up to dry. The man called far sooner than expected so I sprinted back to the bus stop to retrieve my car in time to get back to the DMV before work.

Out of breath, I returned to the smog place where the man listened to me rant about my hectic day to that point. He became a therapist at my disposal, whether he wanted to or not.

Road Block Number Three: The End of the Experience
At this point, serene, jolly Marisa was long gone. The coffee deprivation had extended for far too long. Assuming that since I had VIP status in the morning after completing my vehicle verification, going off to get the smog test would not alter that. Apparently, the the definition of whether you left the building or not is vague, and this instance did not qualify. I had to obtain a new number. B79. The screen showed B50. Given that I had 30 numbers before mine, I assumed heading to the coffee shop was permissible. As mentioned earlier in this blog, the lady informed me that leaving the premises invalidated my number. This was about the point where hysteria overcame me and tears streamed down my cheeks. To make matters worse, I received a text message from the man who preformed my smog test telling me he gave me the wrong paperwork. He faxed the right one to the DMV. If they did not accept it, the asylum would have been the only answer.

I finally calmed down enough to contain myself around the time B70 was called. Prior to that point, I received many unpleasant looks but no comfort except from my mother at the other end of the phone. Finally my number blinked on the screen. I prayed with fervor that I would not be assisted by the same lady. The Lord took pity on me- it was a different counter. Finally, someone kind at the DMV- he smiled and told me he would take care of me, not to worry. I ranted about the service and he joked "what do you mean, it's a regular Disneyland here!" Finally, a grin came over my tear-stained face.

Thus concludes the tale of my detrimental DMV day. 

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