Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I spent some time at the BMV today. That's the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Here's some advice. Don't go at 1:30 pm on a Wednesday after they've been closed for 4 days. I got ticket number 218 and number 175 was called as I looked for a place to sit. "How long will it take," I wondered. "Hmmm, 6 windows, 5 minutes each, and 43 people ahead of me. Maybe about half an hour." Well that was optimistic of me. Ten minutes later they called number 177. Oh dear.

I saw young fathers with toddlers, old women with egg-shaped bellies, a woman with an oxygen tank in a cute red backpack, skinny girls in jeggings, skinnier Somali dudes in baggy jeans, and a short woman wearing a purple sweater and purple pants. People lined up for license photos, smiling, tugging down their shirts and hoisting up their pants. As if their clothes would show. One man told the story of his 4 am visit to the ER for "Well, you can guess what, can't you? It wouldn't come out!" he shouted to the haggard woman across the aisle. "I couldn't stand the pain. I don't want to say it here, but I bet you can figure it out!" he laughed.

Each clerk had a black box over his or her cubicle. Each box lit up with red numbers when there was an opening. I watched the numbers. Sometimes people gave up and left, and then we'd skip numbers, sometimes several in a row. That was thrilling.

Sometimes people couldn't produce the required documentation and were quickly turned away. You could see the grim discouragement in their faces and shoulders. I hoped I had the right papers.

After an hour I was getting close. We skipped over 214, 215, 216, and 217: all no shows. Me!

My clerk had limp hair, a yellow rictus of a smile, and soiled pants pulled up to his chest. I loved him. He processed my paperwork in a flash and I left with a precious slip of paper.

My advice, and it's good because it came straight from my man: best time to go to the BMV is midmorning, midweek, on a regular week. This was a short week. Closed Monday because of President's Day and closed yesterday because of a state furlough day. That's a day when everything is closed in an effort to save money. Today was not a good day to go. Well, it was for me. I got to relax, watch people, and completed my errand successfully. More advice: bring a book to pass the time, a utility bill, and a passport. Oh, and your waist is not going to show in your driver's license photo, so don't bother sucking it in. That's all. See you on the street.

1 comment:

  1. You mean you didn't hook up? Great place for hooking up, is the BMV. You should have gone after the "it wouldn't come out" guy. He sounds dreamy.
    From my experience, it's a crap shoot. You can go during the times that are said to be the slowest and still have a long, miserable wait. You can go at the worst times and glide right through. It's illogical as hell.