If you ever want to know what the bread lines will be like when the balloon goes up just spend an afternoon at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. This debilitating experience couples endless waiting, uncaring agents and exposure of your personal business to anyone listening. You are wedged into an under ventilated staging area with illness, screaming children and very angry people whose patients gave out a couple of hours back, but everyone stays because you have no choice.
My personal experience was miserable. I got to the office a little before three pm and had to park on the road because the lot was completely full, as a matter of fact they had started to double park in the lot blocking people already inside. This was not a good sign but I had to get the truck registered so I pressed on.
I waited in a short line outside the building. Once inside the door I was greeted by an armed guard in the outer chamber who asked to see my paperwork and ID then gave me a number and directed me into the holding room. He didn’t actually do anything with my ID so I assume it was simply an intimidation tactic to keep me calm once inside.
The holding room was roughly thirty by one hundred foot long. The chairs had long given up remaining in orderly lines and many were overturned. The room was packed with screaming children and vacant slack jawed faces staring forward with looks of pure defeat. Then I noticed the “now serving” number. The number showed H41…I was I64.
I milled around for a while looking for a spot away from children and engaging conversationalists. Finding some free carpet near the opposite end of the room I righted a chair and sat down. My neighbors kept stealing glances at me, not sure if they were trying to see my number, checking my business or were simply bored.
Besides the “now serving” sign the visual distractions included several televisions all tuned to Fox News and a marquee sign. The messages displayed were very telling and included; violence will not be tolerated; if miss your turn take a new number and personal favorite, be happy. I found the last message somewhat silly under the circumstances.
Here is the strange thing. As the counter neared my number I started feeling paranoid and clutched my small imprinted paper tighter as if someone would attempt to steal the treasured item. I actually felt anxiety that something would happen and I’d have to start over I kept my head down not wanting to draw attention to myself. I had been there just under two hours, imagine how bad it would be after a day waiting. I looked around and everyone appeared to be edgy the closer it got to their number.
While waiting I noticed how absolutely heartless the clerks were. One woman not far in front on me finally got called to the counter. She apparently did not have some document in proper order and was told to fix the problem and come back…she had three kids with her and had been there for two and a half hours. After pleading with the agent for several minutes she grabbed her things and left very nearly in tears. I could understand her frustration.
Civil servants of this caliber have been doing these jobs for years. My guess is that they no longer realize that a real person with real problems is sitting across the counter from them. The years of repetitive drudgery has desensitized them to the human mass they are there to serve. Very good talent for a post collapse career.
Another thing that struck me as odd were the “uniformed military counters”. There were twelve counters at the office, of them three were dedicated to uniformed military personal.
I finally got to the counter, did the deed and left. Total time two hours and fifteen minutes, total cost about a hundred and twenty.
Not wanting to be forced into situations like this in a collapse crisis is plenty of reason for disaster preparation and continuity planning. If you ever need reminding just spend an afternoon at the DMV.