Late this morning and early this afternoon I found myself at the DMV near Mall 205, some distance away from where I live, because of course that was the nearest DMV that actually was open for appointments right now. At any rate, although the fact that it was not the most convenient location, it did offer at least something entertaining, and that is the opportunity to see people in a strange habitat. The DMV is generally thought of as a location where people tend to be highly demoralized, but seeing as I was getting a license renewed, I had no reason to complain, and came, as one one might imagine, well prepared with the sort of documents I needed. It should be added that I had some advantages in that I had an appointment already, and this allowed me to progress rapidly through the process so I did not see as much as I would have seen otherwise.
Still, there was much to enjoy in looking at the DMV. The Mall 205 location is a strange enough one to put a DMV, in that the entrance to the DMV sits inside a mall that has clearly seen better days (like most malls). The line outside the DMV is divided into two sections, one for people who have reservations and the other for those who do not and who can enter first come, first served, as long as the DMV is available to handle others. It was interesting to see people who have signed up alternating with random people who just show up, hoping to get their business done and sometimes being a bit disappointed in the result.
The DMV operations themselves appeared to be divided into four sections that I could see. In the front of the DMV was a gatekeeper who made sure forms were filled out and that people could do their business. Someone just behind me in line had been trying to get registration for a car without having done their DEQ (emissions check) and I could gather from their arguments that they were not going to have a good time of it, and they did not. Still others struggled to find the information necessary to do what they needed to do. Those who passed through the gatekeeper filled out their firms and then went to the next places, which could include a space set aside for those who needed to take driver’s tests, or to stand in line and wait to talk to one of the employees in a numbered line.
When I did so, rather quickly given the fact that the DMV was not particularly busy, the person I spoke to was a bit surprised that I could remember when I got my Oregon license originally and the process went quickly and smoothly. I was able to joke around a bit with the people and appreciate the humor they were enjoying among themselves as well. At that point it was time to wait to take my picture, to watch parents taking care of their children, and then to leave with my temporary license as people were making their own way through the same process. It was striking to see so few people at a place where there could have been many more served even more quickly. But things always go more slowly than they should.