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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Saturday, July 19, 2008
DMV
Or in the case of Mondawmin Mall - the demilitarized zone....

I'm off to sit with the unwashed masses and local gang members in 95 degree heat to replace my driver's license...wish me luck.

Oh - and don't forget - if you're at Artscape this weekend, drop by the Broadsheet Beer Garden for refreshments.

UPDATE: Going to the MVA on Saturday morning is like going to family visiting day at the State Penitentiary, right down to the metal detector and armed State Troopers. I had an absolutely CLASSIC visit this morning. I arrived promptly at 9:05 AM, only to discover a line that went the length of the building and snaked back in on itself halfway.

The line is so you can get a ticket, from there, you are sent to sit in row upon row of comfortable metal benches and wait to be called on the overhead LCD displays to one of 24 booths where a disgruntled state employee smacks their gum and looks dumbly at a screen running software from the 1980's.

I got my ticket A42 at 9:30 and took a seat. They had already call A36, so I was hopeful that it wouldn 't take too long.

That was my first mistake.

At 10:00 AM, A41 was called. At 10:01, they came on the loudspeaker and announced the following: "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the computer system statewide. All MVA services are affected. You can leave, or you can choose to stay and wait for the system to come back on line. We do not have any idea how long our systems will be down. Thank you for your patience."

A loud groan went up from the crowd. Mine included, although at this point, I just laughed, and settled in with the latest edition of Vanity Fair. I decided to give it a half hour and reassess the inconvenience factor. Had I not been the next one to be called - I would have tried again another day.

At 10:35 AM - the system went back up. During my down time, I called my sister to see how her vacation had gone.

"Where ARE you?" she asked. "It sounds like you're in a Mexican day care center".

"Oh, yeah, it seems everyone brings their kids to the MVA. They're running all over the place".

Perhaps the funniest (or saddest, depending on how you look at it) thing that happened is that when the system went down, there were still well over 100+ people in line waiting for tickets. The State Trooper asked them to please sit down and when the system went back up, they could reform the line, taking the place where they had been.

The line just stared at him like he was speaking in Klingon, and for most of the people in line, he probably was. There wasn't a chance in hell that anybody was going to risk a game of musical chairs for their precious spot in line. Uh, uh, no way, sorry. I've never seen such an exhibition of group mistrust and cynicism. So everyone stood their ground - for another hour or so until the system was up and the line began to move again.

Meanwhile, I tried to make polite conversation with the woman processing my license while we waited for the system to warm up and spit out my new one. That was a mistake. I got grunts and blank stares for my trouble.

While I was waiting, her supervisor came over and asked her to process a special kind of license. Without even letting her finish - as soon as she heard "special" - she immediately responded by saying - "I ain't never done one, I don't know how, I ain't been trained". Her supervisor calmly responded by saying, "It's exactly the same process, just use code C5". That fell on completely deaf ears, she just kept repeating "I cain't do it, I ain't been trained!".

After about two go rounds, the supervisor realized it was more trouble than it was worth, and that she was probably better off asking a dog to sit, than trying to get this woman to step out of her comfort zone and lend a friggin hand. Thankfully, the machine spit out my license at this point, and I headed for the door as fast as I could, only to have to walk through a phalanx of smokers blocking the door since the only shade from the heat was immediately in front of the doors, and they'd die like vampires if they stepped into the sun.

I wanted to take a picture of the lines of people and the waiting area with my cell phone, but with half of the people in line looking like their next stop was a meeting with their parole officer, and with the State Troopers watching everyone, I thought the best of it and moved on.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:24 AM  
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