Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I'm inspired by a recent Facebook post by Starre Vartan (author, founder, HuffPo blogger, and a global-thinking-Fairfield County-residing embodiment of the LLVS spirit) in which she sang the praises of our local Department of Motor Vehicles. That would be "praise" and "DMV" sharing a rare thought bubble. How rare? Google "I love the DMV." One person in Vermont had a positive DMV experience once. There are a few "I heart DMV" links but I think that stands for the DC-Maryland-Virginia area. Now enter "DMV Sucks." This sentiment has its own website, original anthem, monologues on YouTube, and a poll that 77% of those asked agree with that statement. It's easy to understand why:

Indeed, when it came time to register my car and get a CT license, I readied myself for a day spent maneuvering a fluorescent-lit labyrinth understaffed by civil servants who moved at the can-do clip of barnacles, as had been my experience at every such facility since taking to the road in my '77 orange VW beetle at the age of 16. However, I knew this would be an altogether different encounter even as I pulled into the parking lot and beheld the edifice before me, its facade of windows gleaming in the morning sun.

So my day wouldn't be spent in what resembled a fallout shelter, after all. The door opened from the inside. I stepped aside to let the person through, but he waved me in. "Welcome!" said an elderly gentleman. "Can I help you find the forms you need today?" I looked around, confused. Was this a kindly-yet-addled customer who'd spent so long waiting that he fancied himself an employee? And did I smell coffee brewing? The greeter -- yeah, Fairfield County is so fancy that the DMV has a doorman -- familiarized me with the refreshment cart; the cabinet fully stocked with forms in the cubbies for which they were labeled; a plethora of loose pens and pencils; the waiting room with comfortable-looking cushioned chairs in which people kicked back and read the paper and didn't look a bit irate; and the various, clearly marked stations, each staffed by people who looked as inclined to smile and make eye contact as not. They did both these things; the lines moved steadily; the digital counter on the wall announced at a reasonable pace who's turn was next. Within two hours I was out the door with new plates and a decent driver's license photo, and I had the whole rest of the day to sit in traffic on I-95! I have to renew both my registration and license in August, so we'll see if it's as painless a process again then...


Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr