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CITIZEN COLUMN: Kudos to the DMV
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CITIZEN COLUMN: Kudos to the DMV

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If you have ever driven an automobile, legally, you have been to the DMV. If you do not drive but have a state issued ID card, you have been to the DMV.

If you have ever purchased or traded automobiles, there is a good chance you have been to the DMV. If you plan to enter a federal building, fly on a plane or visit a military installation, now or in the future, you will need a REAL ID. You get it at the DMV

Now, if you have been to the DMV, you have a DMV story you could tell. Not many of those stories will lack in poignant emotions. Emotions such as exasperation, impatience and barely controllable urges at screaming come to mind.

Stand-up comics have developed entire routines that paint an unflattering image of the DMV process. Some of them are quite funny, I might add. Most of their jokes are based upon experiences that could very well be actual events that we can all relate to. That’s what makes them so funny.

The DMV recognized years ago that they have a tarnished reputation, and they have from time to time made purposeful modifications to their process to speed things along. Many of those attempts were not so much an improvement in speed as it was simply a way to hide the amount of seat time required to get your turn at the counter. Things like removing the big clock on the wall behind the counter that everyone’s eyes were glued to helped. It didn’t improve the wait time to get that tag decal you needed, but you couldn’t accurately complain to the clerk as to how long you have been waiting.

They changed the number system on the wait slip each customer was given when they entered to include random numbers and alpha letters. There was no way to mentally calculate the wait time based upon the last number they called.

Your Uncle Joe probably has a story about nodding off to sleep and missing his turn when his number was announced. There was nothing to alert him that his turn was imminent.

Some of us, including me, have tried to circumvent the process. I drove to Bishopville once to renew my license because I heard they had short lines. Now you ladies cannot tell me that you haven’t sweetly promised the hubby his favorite meal if he would make the DMV trip to get tags for your new ride.

There are few shortcuts, as I learned along the way.

You can imagine the panic look on my face when a cashier at a local business asked to see my ID and politely informed me, “Oh, your permit will need renewal next month. Don’t forget,” she cheerfully announced. The wheels in my mind were turning before I got back to the car. Can I figure a way to get my hubby to take care of it? Can I even get in the DMV with so much COVID around? Is there a way to get my license renewal without going to the DMV?

It turns out there is. My hubby got me online at the DMV and everything was going smooth until I got to the part for the eye exam. How am I going to work that out without physically being at the counter in the DMV? My disappointment was short lived, as I discovered that if my eyesight was examined in the past year by a licensed optician, they could transmit the results to the DMV in Columbia, give me a code number to enter and I would be good to go. I had just visited Stokes for an eye exam, and a telephone call to them took care of that. I paid the fee with my husband’s debit card and a week later my license, good for eight more years, came in the mail.

I am a happy camper. I surmise that the pandemic required the DMV to get innovative. The online process for my license renewal went smoothly. No long lines, no paper slips with a random number to determine my place in line. I avoided an opportunity to rub elbows with someone ill, and my husband paid the license fee with his debit card. There was a bunch of wins in this little ordeal that I was dreading. Kudos to the DMV.

One dilemma was solved, but there was just no way I was going to walk away 100% problem free. The nice lady at Stokes cheerfully reminded me that I need to take care of those cataracts.

Oh, well. One problem at a time.

Dr. Darlene Atkinson-Moran grew up in Olanta. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She is retired from the education profession and now resides in Florence with her husband, Michael. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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