Published: May 19, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 19, 2012 08:23 PM
My DMV adventure
Sometimes it can be quite an adventure to get something done at the Division of Motor Vehicles. I recently got my learners permit. The first time I went to take the test, a staff member said I needed my Social Security card, even though I had my birth certificate and passport and knew my Social Security number. Its not clear to me why the actual card is required. After going back home and being unable to find it, we had to order a new one. When I went back to the DMV during spring break, all of the forms were correct. We sat down, but soon we got to talking with a lady who had been waiting there for almost three hours. We decided it wasnt worth the wait, and were told by the man behind the counter that our best bet was to be there no later than 7:15 the next morning, even though they didnt open until 8.The next morning when we arrived, there were already several people waiting. The guy who was first in line had been waiting there since 6:50 and was joking about camping out overnight at the DMV in order to be seen.We waited there for the 45 minutes. When they finally opened up, a woman who had arrived considerably later than most of the people standing there pushed her way to the front of the line.When the early guy tried to say something to her, she pretended not to speak English, but had no problem speaking with the man behind the counter. When we sat down to wait, all 18 chairs filled up quickly, and some people had to sit on the floor against the wall. That is, until they were instructed not to do so because of OSHA rules. I finally got called back to take the test, and ended up failing because I missed one too many questions. I was unable to identify what the saying dont hang out in the no zone meant. I guessed the option that said dont park in no parking zones when the answer was not to hang out in a trucks blind spot.A lot of the questions such as knowing the exact meaning of this saying were, in my opinion, not very necessary to know in order to do a good job driving. I asked my parents if they knew the answer to that question, and they said that they would have guessed the answer as I did.We came back two days later. We arrived around the same time we had previously, and there was already a considerably larger number of people waiting.This time, in order to avoid line skipping, my mom was prepared with sticky notes to give out to people to mark their place, but fortunately everybody decided to go ahead and get in a line. We got in and this time I passed with no problem. (I guess it helps to study the manual.)According to a DMV staff member, the reason there is such a wait is that there are usually only two people at a time working there due to state budget cuts. You can book an appointment ahead of time, but we were told in early April they were booked up until after Memorial Day. A friend of ours who was there while we were waiting said that he wouldnt mind paying more in taxes to hire more DMV staff.This affects everybody from 16-year-olds like me getting their learners permit to adults getting their license renewed. If in the future a DMV photo ID were required in order to vote, it would be difficult for people like my 93- year-old grandmother and her friends.She no longer drives; her drivers license expired several years ago. Would she have to get up as early as I did for us to bring her to the DMV and wait as long as I did in order to be able to continue to vote as she has done in every election since 1940? I would hope not.The people who must be having the hardest time with all of this are the people who work at the DMV each day. Despite their level of stress, they are amazingly cheerful with the people they are helping.
Lucas Selvidge is a 10th grader at Carolina Friends School. Write to him in c/o firstname.lastname@example.org