Effanineffable OR Asexual Screw

09:00 August 19, 2019
By: Phil LaMancusa

A visit to the DMV is mostly described as a thoroughly humiliating experience and a topic of epic conversations over adult beverages; very few of us have ever had overtly pleasant times there. "I got my number, went out for a run, had some lunch, and when I went back, they still hadn't called my turn."

You'll hear stories like this from every other person that has gone to the Louisiana motor vehicle processing centers. They used to be called the DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, but now they go by the OMV, Office of Motor Vehicles. It's a different name but same dysfunction, if not worse. The more aware we are of the advances in the outside world, the more archaic the OMV appears, functionality speaking.

"I waited for two hours, and then they wanted information that was not listed on their website as necessary. And, literally, I had to camp out and argue with them, quietly but firmly, for 45 minutes before they finally gave in and let me have my license changed from Washington to here." And other stories like that.

Everyone I've spoken to has a horror story for when they try to do motor vehicle business in New Orleans, such as getting an updated version of your license when you change address or registering your Nissan Hocus Pocus or Honda Cilantro. Here's some advice… bring a book and lunch, or people watch the circus unfolding around you, asking yourself if it was worth the wait and the two buses it takes to get to this remote facility.

Here's some points: there is no clock on the wall to tell you how long you've been waiting, the time of 'your turn' ticket is stamped, and a number for you to wait to hear announced for your up-at-the-window portion of your visit; the numbers are called in no particular order. I sat next to a one-armed taxi driver that waited five hours while numbers up and down from his were called for service before his turn was announced.

Also, the chairs in front of whatever window you get to are lower than the one of the person serving you. I think this is so that you feel smaller than them-a typical alpha humiliation tactic used often in job interviews.

There is a triage station where they weed out the totally unprepared, answer basic questions, and issue a slip of paper that assigns you a letter and a number-E437, F585, G624, etc.

The high point of our last visit was when the number I810 (pronounced by the loudspeaker as, "Now serving Eye Eight One Zero, at counter number seventeen…") was called; the entire room waited with baited breath as the number went up one time, and then two, for when it was announced that window number seventeen would be servicing number "I ate one too," a collective smile went around the room. That's how boring it is there.

Oh, there are over twenty service windows there, and, at any one time, I only saw upwards to eight employees (wo)manning them; the waiting area seats hundreds. Each time I've been there, it has been at full capacity.

There are circumstances that, if not met, you will be dismissed, out of hand. The first condition on getting booted off premises is to show up without your Social Security Card-having a hard copy is a must. Why? Who the #*@& knows? They want any proof of employment to be on "official" letterhead stationary, rental agreements have to be on 'official' rental forms (available at office supply stores), and so forth; hand written anything is pushed aside as irrelevant.

The office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays (excluding holidays), and it's common to see parents arriving after 3:00 p.m. with school kids to witness the mortification of their elders. At 3:50 p.m., a uniformed security guard, about as big as a refrigerator, announces that the doors will be locked in ten minutes and those still inside will be served-go out that door after four and there's no re-entrance, etc. That's when the efficiency of rejecting customers goes into high gear, and you're made to feel like they're now shooting fish in a barrel. Guess who's in the barrel next?

I was with a friend who has just moved here from Oregon and was changing his valid driver's license from there to here. The first time he waited four hours before he was rejected on a technicality, and we went back the second time with everything needed and got there at the opening bell. There were a hundred people waiting for the opening, and it took nearly an hour to process through triage. He was then given a ticket with the number 26 on it. It took him six and a half hours to get seen and approved.

I have made two observations. First, the system I witnessed screams of letting people who really don't like their jobs micromanage their clients to near psychic suicide. Answers like, "We don't have to do nothing here," when shown what should pass for appropriate paperwork. And when the question is rephrased, asking if it "can be considered," then, the answer is, "That's more like it; we can consider it, but we don't have to do nothing." The semantics are crucial.

Secondly, folks are so pissed at the way they are treated that subconsciously they vow never to heed any traffic laws ever: when that speeding driver cuts you off; when they make a left turn from the right hand lane; when they turn without a turn signal (or don't); when you see someone speed through a yellow light, ignore pedestrians in a crosswalk, or drive like the bike lane is their lane; when they lay on their horn because they think that you're not going fast enough for them, even though you're going the speed limit. Picture the abuse that they've endured just to be on the road and wish them a repeat visit.

Being on the road can be hell; getting the proper credentials to get on the road is heller.

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