It took me three hours standing in line at the shiny new DMV only about
five minutes from my house (before then I had to go to one that’s halfway
to Prescott) to even get up to the window to initiate the getting the
license process last time, a couple years ago.
But my record was back in 1997 when I was working for Fox animation. I went
to one of the satellite DMV offices that was right by my house (long gone
now). I was there when it opened and there was already a line and I got a
number and it was obvious it was going to be a long time before they got to
me so I went to my office which was right nearby and called in to Fox and
said I’d be working from there that day. Every couple hours I’d run over to
the DMV and see what number they were on and they never got anywhere near
The next morning I got there about half an hour before they opened and got
my number and went through the same nonsense and they got close to me that
time but they never actually got to me.
Day 3. I get there an hour before they open. Meet a cute girl in line. We
get our numbers. She decides to wait, I go back to the office. On my second
or third check in of the day, about 4 o’clock, my number is close enough I
might make it before they close. Hey there’s the cute girl again. I sit
down and talk to her, she’s been sitting there since eight that morning. I
have the problem that the next day is my birthday so if I don’t get it
renewed before it expires it’s going to be even worse. With like five
minutes to spare they get to me. License renewed! Actual elapsed time:
three freaking days.
The next time I got my license renewed at that location they had an
extraordinarily gay concierge literally flitting from person to person as
we sat and waited looking to see if our papers were in order. I mostly
remember the bright blue jacket and matching tie. He was like a maître d’
in a restaurant you were having second thoughts about going to.
At that point in time we were still using our Social Security numbers as
our drivers license number. I had filled out the form that way. He asked to
see proof of my SS number. I showed him my previous drivers license. That
didn’t count. My Social Security card had long since disintegrated in my
wallet. So he said I had to make up a random nine digit number but I
couldn’t read use my actual number. Disgusted, I went to the nearby
stationary store where they made metal Social Security cards for four
dollars and put anything you wanted on it. Any name, any number, any
anything. I had one of those made and went back and he gleefully accepted
it and let me use the same number from my previous drivers license on my
new one. So that one took a couple of days. One of the reasons that place
was so slow was they only had three windows and on that occasion one of
them had a woman sitting there reading the newspaper and not waiting on
anybody. Both days I was there. For hours. I assume she was in some sort of
labor dispute and they were just making her sit and not help anybody.
Then there was the time in 1981 when I had to drive all the way across town
to pick up my shiny new personalized license plate… That’s actually a
pretty good story.