Now Serving 1142

I arrived at the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles at 10:27 am. The timing was strategic. But it turned out the timing of my visit did not matter. There are always a thousand people at the DMV anytime of day.

The DMV has been streamlined over the last few years in an attempt to improve service and speed up processing time. But it was hard to appreciate these improvements as they were not obvious. I would challenge our state’s governor, Lincoln Chafee to do my ordinary transaction in one visit.

It was my sixth visit to the DMV in as many months, but that did not make the visit any easier to navigate. There was no signage indicating what to do and where to go. Fortunately, many friendly people helped me to understand the procedure: Wait in the check in line to get a number and have the paperwork evaluated and approved. Then wait in another line. The sign said “7 minutes to be served” at the check in. It was 17 minutes. The clerk confirmed all my paper work was in order. Relieved to not be turned away, I took my ticket – number 1142. They were now serving number 1066. 76 others in front of me for this specific transaction. Time: 10:45 am. DMV 1

Some people took up two seats, spreading a leg over the adjoining seat or placing their bag on the adjoining seat. A fair number of people stood as there were not enough seats. Kids screamed. People coughed and sneezed. One woman was reading Harry Potter, a perfect 900 page book for the wait. People talked on their phones, fiddled with games and email, trying to pass the time productively.

At 11:10 they were serving 1080. I went in search of water and took a short walk to stretch. There is a cafe at the DMV, but it is cash only. I had no cash. Thirsty, I returned to the waiting area to be treated to the view of a woman’s butt crack and tramp stamp as she bent over to retrieve her bag.

At 11:56 am they were serving 1124. At 12:17 they were serving 1140. Two to go. Finally, two hours after I arrived it was my turn.

I presented my paperwork that had been approved two hours before by the check in department. I was confident my documents were in order as I precisely followed the instructions from my previous visits to other departments of the DMV. It should have been an easy transaction but the clerk told me I was missing a key document that required notarized signatures.

There should be a better way.

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