This is my third trip to the North Carolina DMV since Karen and I moved to Charlotte. It took two attempts at two-hours each to title and tag my truck with a Missouri plate and Karen’s CRV from Florida. A separate excursion to the Wildlife Department to get a title and registration for the boat was needed. I’m back for “Lucky DMV Number Three” to title and tag the new trailer I had built in Miami to haul our boat to Lake Wylie. The NCDRV has been a bit of a challenge, especially regarding the trailer. I am now practiced at mailing documents for notarization, clarification, correction and elimination of white-out use.
The first foreboding announcement was hollered from behind the counter after 30-minutes of standing in line, “Our printers have gone down. It’s a statewide system problem at all our DMVs.” The room was abuzz with confusion and several dozen folks abandoned ship in a huff. “What rookies,” I say to myself. I have copies of everything.
Forty-five minuets later a woman ahead of me groused aloud, “This line has not moved since I got here.” It was true. I wondered how long she’d been up there before I arrived.
One hour into waiting and the second announcement caused more of the faithless to flee, “Our credit card machines are not working. You must pay with cash or a personal check.” This was translated into Spanish by English speaking companions for many of the lost souls languishing in the queues. More people departed and the lines moved slightly due to attrition. I had my checkbook and enough cash, I hoped.
It was most appropriate to have church pews along the wall for people waiting in line to sit and pray for deliverance from the DMV. Built with a lack of comfort to discourage sleeping and punish sinners’ behinds they offered little solace to those about to be sent away for more documentation by the jolly folks behind the counter.
The office manager began to circulate among the cursed souls in line to check their paperwork and send those deemed not worthy home to redeem themselves before their next visit. A haggard man in the rear asked her, “What is the best day to come here?” Her instant reply, “Every day is a good day to go to the DMV.” No one laughed. She continued, “Fridays and Mondays are bad. Everyone who failed on a Friday shows up again on Monday.” Good to know, I thought, and my line inched forward.
A little over two-hours have passed and I’m next to face a scrutinizer behind the counter. Lord, please don’t let the gal with the birthday balloon hovering above her chair call me as she seems more interested in celebrating her milestone than helping the hapless. Finally, a break. I’m summoned to the far window, which seems to be producing the most patrons leaving with license plates.
I present my ID and a pile of paperwork with a huge smile. She looks up and says, “You’ve been here before. These look right.”
My reply, “Yes, ma’am. My third attempt. I’m livin’ life in line at the DMV these days and I’d rather be most anyplace else.”
She looked in my eyes and shot back, “You think I wanna be here?”
Wait, Is this a trap? I need this clerk to approve my pile of documents. In a most sincere tone I plead, “I’m sure nobody here is a fan. Please don’t reject me again?”
“Oh, you goin’ home with a plate.” She began stamping papers and pecking at computer keys. “We all got better places to be. This wasn’t the top of my career wish list.”
I thought it best to let her remark hang in the air. I felt so close.
Her computer struggled to find my trailer’s manufacturer so she could tax me appropriately. Doom loomed overhead. Then the hallelujah moment arrived. “Tax, title, and license that’ll be $367.80.”
I walk out with license plate in hand and $30.00 in my pocket. We are officially fully committed now to our Charlotte move and my DMV blues are over, ’til next year.