We came home, ate lunch, and then Sarah went out to get the smog check because the car is a stick shift and I don’t know how to drive it. Which is a whole other issue that we’ll get into another time. The smog check was no big deal; it took all of 15 minutes. We got a sheet of paper saying the smog check was complete, and then headed back to the DMV.
This time, I stood in line while Sarah parked the car. When I got to the desk, I told the lady we’d been there earlier and had been told to come back.
“Do you have an appointment?” she asked.
“We had an appointment earlier,” I said. “And we were told we could just come up to the desk.”
The woman sighed and handed me a number. “If they haven’t called your number by 2:10, come back and see me,” she said. At the bottom of our number, she wrote “2:10″ and circled it. At the DMV, this seemed like an act of kindness akin to giving a stranger the shoes off your feet.
We sat back down and waited. By 2:10, our number still hadn’t been called, so I went back to the desk and waited in the appointment line. The woman who told me to come back was nowhere to be seen. This time, desk duties were being handled by a woman I can only refer to as the Worst Person on the Planet.
I got up to the desk and started to explain my situation.
“Hi,” I said, all smiles, “The woman who was at the desk earlier told me to come back if our number hadn’t been called by 2:10.”
“Do you have an appointment?” the Worst Person asked, itching for a fight.
“We did earlier, but we had to go get a smog check …”
She took the number from me and threw it away.
“Once you leave, you no longer have an appointment,” she said. She handed me a number that was 27 spots further down the line than our previous number.
“But the woman who was here before told me to come back at 2:10,” I said.
“I don’t care, sir,” the Worst Person said, beginning to raise her voice. “You don’t have an appointment.”
“Well, at least give me my other number back,” I said.
“Sit down and wait for your number to be called,” she screamed. Literally, she was screaming.
“You gave me a number that was much higher than the number I just had,” I protested. “I just want my original number!”
“If you leave, you can’t come back!” she said.
“But we came back and got that number,” I shouted. “That number you just threw away! And then the person who was here before you …”
She grabbed the number out of the basket and slapped it into my hand.
“You can’t just skip ahead of everyone in line!” she yelled.
“I didn’t!” I said, “The person who was here before you said …”
“Why do you keep repeating yourself?” she asked me. “I told you to go sit down!”
“Because I can’t believe you can run an organization this way!” I shouted. After a day of driving around and dealing with the DMV, I was ready to punch someone in the face. I didn’t care that she was a middle-aged woman, she’d clearly had it coming for a long time.
“Sit down and wait for your number to be called and stop bothering me!” she yelled back.
“This is unbelievable!” I shouted, looking for support from the people around me. They were no help. They all hated me just as much as this woman because I was making them wait. “Well, I’m sorry you’re having such a bad day!” I finally yelled at the woman, and then stomped off.
By the time I got back to the seats, our original number was up. We went to the desk with our smog check and other paperwork in hand. This time, I decided the best tactic was to explain myself as little as possible.
“Registering a vehicle,” I mumbled to the woman.
The woman took a cursory glance at our paperwork.
“Do you have your plates?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “We were told we didn’t need them.”
“I can’t help you unless you have your plates.”
Sarah was on the verge of crumpling into a fetal position when I decided to make a final, last ditch effort.
“The car’s already registered in California,” I said. Thinking that maybe this woman assumed the car had been registered in another state, which was why they needed the plates … I had no idea. I was just grasping at straws.
Miraculously, my tactic worked. The woman heaved a heavy sigh – a lot of sighing goes down at the DMV – and pressed a button on her computer. We were sent to another desk to get our registration sticker, and finally, at long last, we were free to leave.
So that’s the DMV, and it’s a mess. To be fair, the state of California has no money right now, and there are now only 2 DMV offices in the entire Los Angeles area. I can understand how this would be a heavy workload as an employee. What I cannot understand is how it attracts the most incompetent, lazy, idiotic workers in the world. It’s like an outreach program for complete assholes.