Thursday, June 19, 2008


I've heard all the horror stories about the DMV...the five-hour waits, the surly customer service reps, the road test administrators who flunk you before you even pull out of the parking lot.

But I've never had a bad experience with the DMV.

I passed my driving test on the first try, and if I remember correctly, after my test the instructor told my parents that I was a very good driver. If I don't remember it correctly, I'm going to ask my parents to corroborate my story so that it at least sounds like I'm a very good driver. Which...I am.

This morning I went to get my driver's license renewed, and as soon as I walked in, I knew that this was the day all of my good luck with the DMV would come to a screeching halt. (by the way...if you're forced to come to a screeching halt while taking your road test, I'm betting you'll almost certainly fail.)

I barely got in the door and found myself at the end of a line snaking around a table and all the way to the back of the room. There were three customer service guys manning their battle stations, and all of them were busily tending to the needs of Wisconsin drivers.

I counted my way back and found that I was the thirteenth person in line. I considered calling my boss to tell him that the hour I thought I'd be gone might be extended a bit, and that he shouldn't expect me back until the middle of next week.

The lady in front of me was doing everything in her power to support the stereotype of the month-long wait at the DMV by complaining to her friends about the hours and hours *gasp!* she waited in line other times at the office in the next county.

The line inched ahead a little bit...and then a little bit more, and before long I was more than halfway up to the front of the line. A couple more minutes and I was in the on-deck circle. Smooth sailing.

When one of the customer service guys became available, I'm certain I heard him say, "I can help who's next, please."

Please?? Did he say...please? I thought these guys were supposed to just glare at you, drumming their fingertips on the desktop until you finally realized in your great stupidity that yes, YOU, were next, and you better get your ass over there or they'll send you back to the end of the line.

But no. He said please.

Two minutes, a lame eye test and thirty-four dollars later, I was signing my name and standing on the tiny rectangular mat in front of the backdrop to get my pic taken.

And about five minutes after that, as he handed me my new license, he said, " you go, buddy. Have a good day."

Buddy? He said buddy......and please?

I love the DMV!!

"Thanks. You have a good day, too," I replied.

"Thaaank you!!" he said.

Couldn't have asked for a nicer guy.

Now...about that picture. Definitely the one blemish on my DMV experience. It's a good thing the only people who will see it are the police ociffer who writes me a ticket for the one (or two) speeding tickets I will inevitably get in the next eight years before I have another crack at a better photo...and all the swell people in liquor stores and nightclubs who look at me and think to themselves, "Hmm...he might not be 21 just yet. I better check and make sure."

I'm always more than happy to show them that I was born only a couple years after Moses. And for making me feel young again, their prize is getting to see firsthand that I take a really shitty driver's license photo.

That's a trade-off I can live with.

"I close my eyes while driving
and just sing along. I always
open them again in time."
—Tyra Banks


  1. Just got my renewal in the mail and wasn't looking forward to the dreaded DMV experience - maybe I should schedule a visit to your neck of the woods for the nice DMV worker - because they don't have any of them down here :o(

  2. Once a postal worker was polite to me and I got teary-eyed because of it. True.