I must be in an alternate universe--the DMV was helpful! (Film at 11)

So, I’m on my big ol’ road trip, stopping in New Jersey to visit my folks and renew my drivers’ license which had expired back in February. However, I kept it the whole time (as I needed some form of a license), with the intent on renewin’ it when I returned.

See, I had one of the old styles, that I renewed through the mail, and it didn’t have my picture on it. Now, as an antiterrorism measure, Jersey’s gone digital. In order to get a new valid license, you actually have to show up and get a picture taken–because we all know terrorists aren’t digital. :rolleyes: Also, they’ve got this new program where you have to show them “6 points” of identification, because again, as we all know real terrorists only carry four points, and the Taliban only has decoder rings.

Anyway, my parents are freaking out, “You’ll need your birth certificate! Do you have it? You need it! Bring some bills! Bring your old drivers license. . . yadda yadda yadda” :rolleyes: Thus, they begin to lay on the sap on how my sister was there for three hours and didn’t get hers renewed because they couldn’t verify her social security number, yadda yadda yadda and that I “should go first thing in the morning in case something goes wrong.” :smack:

So, armed with two passports (I’ll get there in a minute), one US Air Force ID card, some bills, a letter from the VA, and a couple other odds ‘n’ ends, and the knowledge I will be dealing with Vogons, I got up a little earlier and made it to the DMV office around 9:AM. At 9:15 AM, I was on the cellphone to my mother telling her that I had in fact recieved a fresh laminated plastic card that now serves as my drivers license.

As soon as you walk into the place, there are two ladies that sit at the little desk. They act as screeners to make sure you’ve got everything you need. The one lady asks if she can help me, and I tell her what I need to do. She hands me a little slip of paper to fill out, and asks me to gather my “6 Points of ID”. I fill out the paper, and give her my ‘official passport’ (the passport I use when I’m flying on “official government business”) because she’s never seen a red one. I explain to her that it’s my government passport, and she gasps, “Why, are you in the Army?” “No, Air Force. . .” At this point the other little lady takes notice and asks, “Have you been anywhere?” I quietly tell them both I just got back from a nine-month stint in Afghanistan, and tell them the countryside where I was is actually quite beautiful. While we’re talking, they’re gathering my documentation, stamping this and that, asking if I want to be an organ donor and if I was ever in danger (yeah, from the cooking), and just general polite chit-chat. The other lady said she’d been to China, and can relate to how beautiful the Himalayas are. In the matter of like, five minutes, the first lady hands my stuff back to me and points around the corner, “Just head back that way and they’ll take care of you!”

Sheepishly, I head back around a little partition, and the clerk (who was a little cutie) back there takes my newly-assembled “6 points / slip of paper bundle” and tells me to sit in a chair and smile. One, two, three poof the picture is taken, and she asks if I like the picture. :eek: I have a choice if I like the picture or not?! :cool: I say yes, fork over $24 in cash, and wait about ten minutes for my “social security number check” and the card to print out. She gives me my new laminated piece ‘o’ plastique, politely declines to give me her phone number, and wishes me a nice day. On the way out, I wave to the initial two ladies and tell them “Thank you!” and promptly start dialing my mother to tell her how easy it was.

What makes me believe I’m in an alternate universe:

  1. They were pleasant, and quick about things.
  2. It didn’t take me all damn day.
  3. There were no long lines, and the customers in the place generally seemed happy.
  4. They asked me if I liked my picture–when the hell did they start doing that?
  5. It cost me under $30 to get anything done with the Garden State.

I did take a little snooze this afternoon, and it’s a distinct possibility I was transported back to my original dimension while asleep. But man, from now on I’ll be teleporting my ass back to that dimension to get stuff done from now on . . .

Although I did see a Rod Serling lookalike while driving to the office this morning.

I am often pleasantly surprised with any government dealings in Maryland. It’s the Federal Government (USCIS, BCIS, INS, DHS, whatever they’re calling themselves this week) that I’m never shocked when I get often conflicting information and awful service.

Of course you liked your picture. In that universe, everything is reversed, so the picture you saw on your license looks exactly what you see in the mirror every day here in regularland. But the rest of us, now, we’re going to look at that picture and think, “something ain’t right there” and scratch our heads and ponder, because the symmetry’s just off enough to look weird but not obviously why.

And don’t you feel sorry for the Tripler from the other side, who waltzed into his DMV thinking he’d just pop in on a simple errand? He’s still there!

Man, you owe that guy a beer. Leave it on his pillow the next time you’re on the other side.

Wait a cotton pickin’ minute! Why do they get decoder rings? I want a decoder ring!

land of the free INDEED :mad:

In other news, your post reminded me to write the DMV for a change of address. That’s right, you couldn’t pay me to show up at that horrible place in the 111 degree heat.

Not true! I waltzed in one day and said, “Look, I hate the picture on my license. I could lie to you and say I lost it, but I absolutely hate this picture. I look high and honestly, that can’t be good if I ever get pulled over.” She laughed and brought up my picture on the computer, “Oh my. Yeah, wow. That really isn’t a good picture of you, is it, darling? Ok, come over here.” She then proceeded to take four pictures-- telling me how to pose and such. She ended up pointing out her favorite (which I also liked), which was such because I looked “sassy.” Still my picture to this day.

Of course, I’m also wearing a ton of makeup in the new picture. My friends like to compare my old picture to my new, saying, “You know, this first one looks like you got arrested for drugs. . . the new one looks like you got arrested for being a hooker.” It happens :wink:

The NJ DMV (actually it’s now called “Motor Vehicle Commission” has been improving recently by leaps and bounds. I had an experience similar to yours when last year I had to take my car through inspection. I got there early, prepared with coffee, snacks, and a book, anticipating the usual hours-long wait in line. My coffee did not even get cold before I was done – and the employees were respectful and friendly.

I’ve heard that the current person in charge of the MVC is a woman who has been instrumental in many of the recent changes, including the polite folks who welcome you as you arrive. A simple thing, replacing the previous process of getting in line to find out what line you get into to get the form to fill out followed by waiting in another line to hand it in, ad infinitum. I wish I knew the name of that person, but can’t seem to find it on their web site.

I agree that giving you a choice on your licence photo is great. I made them take about 4 before I found one I liked, and nobody minded.

I have heard

It sounds like my visit to the Ministry of Health office in Islington a month or so ago to get my new OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card. There was no lineup, the clerk was helpful, I was in and out in about fifteen minutes, and then had all this extra time… and i didn’t cost me aything.

Now, the Ministry of Transport… they outsourced all the licensing office to a private consortium, and when I go to renew my driver’s license, I’ll have to endure long wait times and pay $75.

Psst. The terrorists aren’t to blame for everything. It could be those dastardly illegal Mexicans who caused the 6 points of i.d.

I’ve entered that same universe not only at the DMV ( referred to in Michigan as the Secretary of State) but also when I’ve applied for our passports.

There is something inheritly odd when you can go in with all your necessary paperwork, ID’s and money at the ready and waltz out in under 10 minutes. And that is paperwork for two adults and two children. All present and accounted for for the necessary eye ballin’.

The photo of me for my passport is crap, but my driver’s liscense is da bomb. ( It was my best day. Great hair. Great freakin’ hair. Passed the mucho feared EYE CHART TEST…those things scare me more than anything else I know.) and it was my birthday.

Of all the reasons people have to rag on NJ, I have to admit I’ve never had anything but excellent service from the DMV (now MVC as MLS said) in my little corner of The Garden State. The inspection process can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but for licensing and registration, they’ve always been terrific.

Funny thing, though – I had to renew my license last year, and armed with 1 zillion forms of ID and everything, and having things checked and checked and rechecked by many people, when I got my check back I noticed that I never signed it. :slight_smile: I suppose I should thank the bank (which shall remain nameless) for cashing the check :slight_smile:

I got a good one for y’all:

Thanks to my convoluted circumstances, here’s one I dare not touch through New Jersey: I have a Kuwaiti ordered, Canadian built truck, tagged in North Dakota, with Montana insurance, driven by a guy carrying a New Jersey licence.

Yeah, I’ll be consolidating all of that when I get down to Georgia.

O! The military life. :smiley:

I got my license picture taken when I was 18, and I was dumb and didnt realize that as I am very pale (though covered in freckles, which I like to think makes up for it) I should not wear a white shirt when having my picture taken. For the last several years a simple glance at my license picture would make you think I was naked at the DMV. However, when I renewed my license online and I got the new one in the mail, they added color to my skintone so you can tell I am not naked. I am not kidding, the difference between the two pictures is remarkable. My hair looks vibrant and I look like I have been outside in the last year or two because my skin has a golden tone to it. I am still wearing white, but I look less like a goth porn star this time around.

Oh, man, I can’t even imagine the fun the police would have if you were stopped and were asked for your “documents” :eek:

Good luck in Georgia! :smiley: