I'd meant to get off the the DMV first thing in the morning to beat the crowds, but shame on me, I was working on my vehicle outside, and I'd come back in but neglected to shut the basement door. I didn't think anything of it as Murphy went down the steps, but a few minutes ater when I heard commotion outside and saw cats running past the window with Murphy in pursuit...Damn it!
He doesn't reflexively bolt away from me like he used to, but his recall when he's distracted still needs work. And the cats were awfully distracting. By the time that I got back outside to get him, he was out of sight. But within seconds, my "normal" neighbor down the street called to let me know that she had him in their yard. He'd gone right to their gate and waited to be let in and when I got there, he was playing with their dogs in their fenced yard. Naturally we got to talking over there, and then she gave Murphy a new toy that they'd bought him for Christmas and forgotten to give him until now.
Great, give the dog a reward for running away. That won't imprint any bad hiabits...Grrrr.
But I walked him home and put him in the house with his new toy (and of course it squeaks), and then it was off to DMV land.
So I walk into the DMV a bit later than I'd intended, and darn--all that it needs is a few alien musicians and it'd be a dead ringer for the Star Wars cantina scene. It's jam-packed already by the motliest collection of people that I've seen anywhere this side of a Occupy camp. Aside from a bunch of senior citizens (and to be fair, I like senior citizens), there are also numerous morbidly obese people, including one with the required oxygen tank. There are several teen girls with babies, a handful of guys wearing overalls and wife-beaters, including a couple with mullets, and a large family of hispanics gwabbling away in Spanish at each other. I almost want to look outside to make sure that I'm in the DMV and not Democratic National Committee central casting.
I go to the first counter, one where you state your business, show your papers, and get a number that they'll eventually call. Now WV requires that everyone come into the DMV and show a birth certificate, social security card, and two other pieces of ID in order to comply with the new federal Real ID program. (Of course we cannot require that citizens actually show this ID in order to vote because that might make voter fraud harder and keep a few Democrats from winning.)
I get my number and try to gauge how long my wait is, but of course this being the WV DMV, you cannot, because while my number is 619, they are also issuing numbers that begin with 2, 4, and 8 and calling them apparently randomly in addition to ones beginning with 6.
What? How are you calling 422 now? You just did 421 and 420 in a row and 810 before that! When you gonna call a six number? This is like some demented form or torture bingo!
So I sit and I wait...and I wait.and I wait more. And if doesn't help matters that there are eleven customer-service windows in this DMV but only THREE of them are staffed. I mean, seriously? And it's not as if we can't all see the other workers back in the open break room behind the counter. But why should any of them care that the lobby is almost standing-room only? Heck, they're already at work and they don't have anywhere else to be today. The rest of us, on the other hand... And now I understand why customer service workers are reporting higher incidence of "customer rage" these days, because by the time that the average customer gets through something like this--or the typical voice-mail rat-maze, they can't help but be angry already.
Of course some of the other customers aren't helping. When windows do come available and they light up a sign and announce it over the PA, often nobody walks up until it's paged several times, at which point a person who has been sitting in one of the seats finally gets up and wanders over to the window after wasting a minute or so, minutes which start adding up. But at least this is good for a show once when they call 214 five times then call 215. The old man with the 215 number slowly shuffles up to the counter and begins to talk to the staffer when all of a sudden this massively huge black woman runs up literally screaming. "Excuse me, EXCUSE me! They called 214 and that's ME! They didn't give me TIME to get up here but they called 214 and I'M 214!" Now she's trying to step in between the old man and the counter, and he's already got his documents are laid out, and it was looking to get ugly (or hilarious, depending on your viewpoint) because they apparently told her that she'd have to wait, causing her to start shouting about how she had 214 and 214 got called and it was her turn now. "It's not my fault that no one gave me time to get up here!" I was hoping that they'd just toss her out of the office and tell her to come back when she calmed down and learned how to act in public, but then the old man, being a gentleman like so many old men are, picked up his papers and let her cut in.
A few more numbers get called, none of which is 619. Then the hispanic guy gets called and he goes up to the window, accompanied by his wife and their three kids. The counter staff tries talking to him in English but he just qwaffles back in Spanish. His wife doesn't seem to speak English either, but one of the little kids does so I (and everyone else) can follow the conversation as the staffer leans over the counter and puts the questions to the kid, who translates them to Spanish for his dad then translates the answer back to the counter girl.
Gee, at least this isn't going to take way too long!
The upshot here is that Dad is trying to get a driver's license or an ID card and he doesn't have the required documents. He's trying to pass one of the kids' documents off as his own, suggesting that at least one of them was born here and actually has a birth certificate and social security card courtesy of the US taxpayers. But the counter gal, bless her heart, sees through the attempt and refuses to process his application until he comes back with his own documents. There is, of course, some argument that follows.
Now in a perfect world, she'd press a button and an ICE truck would pull into the parking lot and snag this whole brood up just in time to get them on the last deportation bus of the day for Nuevo Laredo. But this is Obama's America so she just gives them all of the documents back and they walk out the door, doubtless on their way to another DMV to try again. Attempted identify fraud? Where?
Finally 619 gets called, but not before I saw several other people who came in after me get called on first, apparently because they got numbers that began with different prefixes. I show my documents, pay my money, and get put in another line to get my picture taken. And of course I have to wait some more, because the one staffer taking pics just went outside with gum-popping, serial-texting Kayla to administer a short driving test as Kayla's mom and a little baby that I resume was Kayla's waited inside with the rest of us.
She done got her first baby before her first driving license. Welcome to West Virginia.
Finally I got photographed and was able to beat it out the door, just shy of two hours after walking in. Now it is actually standing room only in there. But at least four of the customer service windows are open for business now.
Hey DMV! If you're not going to staff all those windows in your office, how about an express line for people with jobs who have to be at work later? And better yet--how about a special (soundproofed) room for people with crying babies? Just saying..
Then I got home to learn that I'd forgot to put the butter back in the refrigerator before leaving. Walking in the door, I found shreds of the empty box that once held four sticks of butter on the floor by Murphy's dog bed. The one partial stick that I'd used was in the refrigerator, but the other three sticks? Gone. Not even the paper was left.
Ugh. Three sticks of raw butter. 3/4 a pound of butter at one sitting. Just...Yuck!
It's quickly turning out to be one of those days.