Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Day, Another Chore

If I could do only what I want to do, I would be a very happy woman. Alas, I am not that fortunate. Just when I think I have a few chore-free days stretching before me, I discover something that just won't wait.

Going to the Revenue Office to renew license tags is right up there with the doctor's office on the list of places I don't want to go, even on a good day. Modern technology being what it is, I can usually avoid the Revenue Office except every four years, when I have to renew my driver's license, and then, I have to find my glasses so I'll pass the vision test. Why I never wear the things any other time is another story for another blog. Suffice it to say that I get dizzy and nauseated when I wear them and try to walk. They also insist on taking my picture, which is more depressing each time. Last time, I was startled to look at my new driver's license photo and see my mother smiling back at me. I was horrified.

Anyhoo, this year, the gubbmint is making things difficult for me by insisting that I have to appear in person at the local Revenue Office because they want to give me a shiny, new license plate. Another number to memorize! It has only been five years. I haven't had time to memorize the one that's on my car now. Also, I have to register a newly acquired vehicle. Not a new vehicle, you understand, just newly acquired. This will create untold problems, according to Jay, who tends to believe that he walks around with a thundercloud hovering over his head at all times.

Admittedly, it is much easier to go to the Revenue Office these days than it used to be. I don't know how it is in other states, but ours is very political. The person who runs the office always gets the job by being appointed. It is a much sought-after job, because if you play your cards right, you can keep it indefinitely, especially in a state full of people who tend to keep the same party in office most of the time. In the case of Arkansas, that party is the Democrats. I can only remember three Republican Governors in my lifetime. So, there are long stretches of time with a Democrat in that office.

Many years ago, our local Revenue Office was ruled by the iron hand of a lady known and loathed by one and all as "Wanda the Witch". She viewed her office as her own little kingdom, and a friend of mine swears to this day, that Wanda forgot herself once, and hollered "Off with his head!" at a hapless man who had neglected to bring one of the necessary documents with him.

We always wondered what she had on someone high up in state government, because although we kept the mails hot with complaints about her on a daily basis, she never received so much as a slap on the wrist.

Wanda never hurried. Invariably, she ran out of day before she ran out of customers. This was due, in large part, to her insistence that all of her clerks took their breaks together. You might be in the middle of a transaction and look up to see your clerk disappearing through the door to the breakroom. Ten or fifteen minutes later, she would return and pick up where she left off. Then, at noon, everyone of them disappeared into the same back room for lunch, and customers just had to sit there for an hour or more until they all came back.

One day, they got so backed up that Wanda commanded all forty or fifty customers, me included, to line up around the perimeter of the room, and she went from one to the other of us, looking at our documents and either accepting or rejecting us as she saw fit. She thought this would save time. She thought wrong.

What a relief it was when she finally retired, and a whole new crew took over. With that, and the advent of the state computer network, things have really picked up. Nowadays, there is only a twenty or thirty minute wait to find out that 1) the computer is down 2) your name can't be found 3) the camera isn't working 4) all of the above.

And, I get to do this tomorrow. Lucky me.


kenju said...

LOL.....last time mr. kenju had to renew his license the camera wasn't working and he had to go back the following week.

Two years ago, when I renewed mine, I wrote a similar piece on the horribleness of it all.

Dianne said...

I've been checking the news wires all day and so far no news of a riot at an DMV in Ark.

So! I assume it went well?

Nancy said...


The State of Pennsylvania is still using the same camera they used to photograph Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.

So, I had to appear a few months ago to have my picture taken for my license.

I have found out that I have a very holy picture on it because everybody who looks at my license laughs and screams," MY GOD, IS THAT YOU?"

Betty said...

kenju and dianne: It was actually quite painless. Of course, Jay took credit for the ease of it by saying, "If I had gone in there all optimistic and everything, we'd have had a terrible time. But, since I was pessimistic, I outfoxed the Karma gods." Kell says I should give him a wide berth for a few days, just in case the "Karma gods" are plotting revenge.

Betty said...

nancy: My photo always looks like it should have a number under it, and be accompanied by a side view.

Jo said...

I'm glad it was relatively painless!

I always look jaundiced with a sleepy eye in my license photos. It's a great system b/c then people will say, Wow, you look so much better in real life!

I've only been to one good DMV was brand new so the employees were fresh & it was a while before the community discovered the office existed. Took about 3 years for the place to acquire the requisite Spanish Inquisition vibe & lose all their pens.

Raven said...

I love your sense of humor and the way you write. I hate wearing my glasses too.

Anonymous said...

you get to do great things over in the States then LOL

Bear Naked said...

Glad to hear your experience wasn't as bad as you expected.

My last driver's license photo wasn't too bad but the one before that one was terrible.

I had the proverbial "Deer caught in the Headlights" look in that one.

patsy said...

you need to move here the revenue office people come here once or twice a week, I forgot if it's 1 or 2 days but anyway you get fast quick service.

susan said...

The great state of Wa has allowed small independent "sub stations" to take care of licencing. There are a LOT of them so they HAVE to good service or people will just go elsewhere. It's the best system I've ever seen.

I'm glad it was painless for you. :)

Minnesotablue said...

I guess it's better to look like your Mom than your grandmom!

Cazzie!!! said...

Our office to renew licences is called the Road Traffic Authority, a government run thing also. I hate having to go there too, always suuch a laorious process, and the wait..and next to people with GERMS, and snott, and ill manners..argh, I only contain myself so far before I tell them to use a tissue..or three!
I am wondering, would you need new spectacles? Maybe they are too strong for you, if they make you nauseated and all, it sounds like that is the problem.
Take care :)

Anonymous said...

Here in the UK people like Wanda are known as 'jobsworths' from the expression ... "issue a license without the right paperwork ... IT'S MORE THAN MY JOB'S WORTH"

apathy lounge said...

This is the best driver's license photo I've had in my entire life. Including when I was 18...and that was 31 years ago! long as I don't get a ticket I can renew it through the mail. Fingers crossed.

Richard said...

Govment will always be the subject of ridicule. I enjoyed yours today tremendously.

I had an incident one time at the DMV office in Flagstaff, AZ that my wife still tells folks about.

We had moved out of state for a year and when we came back we both went in for Arizona licenses. My turn took the usual time but without complications. My wife had some kind of license Nazi that decided she needed to retake the drivers test.

It must have shown on my face and in my manner when I had a conversation with the clerk. The manager came out and apologized profusely and got it done right and quickly. I had reason to be in the office some months after and he came over to me and asked if I was being taken care of.

I think I might have inadvertently freaked him out. I am very protective of Vicki and get pretty hostile if I think people are messing with her.

It wasn't that funny then, but in retrospect it is. In addition, they improved their customer service for everyone and that was an added benefit.

Sorry about the book instead of a comment.


Arkansas Songbird said...

I had my nightmare of an experience with driver's licenses and license plates in Virginia. I think Wanda must have moved to that state when she retired because I'm positive I did business with her.

Midlife Slices™ said...

I checked your profile and I must say, you certainly don't look 252 years of age. What is your secret? :) Nice blog ya got here.

Betty said...

Wow! Forget to check your comments for a day or two and look what happens! Sorry I haven't responded but I do appreciate all your comments. I also like hearing about your various experiences at the DMV in your areas. Welcome and thank you to midlife slices, and come back sometime.