Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun With Bureaucrats

The Department of Motor Vehicles reminded me recently why I despise big government. I'm just glad these people don't (yet) decide who gets chemotherapy.

I tried for days to get an appointment for my son to take his road test. I hit the redial several dozen times before I got through to the D.M.V. at 10:30 a.m.

The bureaucrat who answered the phone informed me that they were not taking any more appointments for road tests that day. I explained that I did not need an appointment that day, and would take the first available on whatever day it fell. The bureaucrat simply repeated that they were done taking appointments for the day. She told me to call back the next day at 8:00 a.m.

When a bureaucrat gives you an instruction or piece of advice, it's important to follow it to the letter. So the next morning I began dialing D.M.V. at 8:00 a.m. I hit the redial over and over and over. At 10:30, I got through. I asked to make an appointment for my son's road test and was told they were not taking any more appointments for the rest of the day. Call back tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

The next day, I started dialing at 7:55. It made no difference. My son, meanwhile, began to panic that he would never get his driver's license.

I gave up trying to make an appointment over the phone. I drove to the D.M.V. At 7:45 a.m., there was a long line of sullen people outside the locked doors. It looked like a Soviet grocery store, complete with ugly, shoddy architecture.

But inside there were real, live bureaucrats with nameplates on their desks. Success! Unable to put me off in person, I was given an appointment -- for two weeks later.

When I went back with my son for the road test, we encountered a neighbor. This father had heard how difficult it is to make an appointment for the road test, so he not only showed up in person, he did so the day before his son was old enough to take the test so that he could take it without delay. Road tests in Kentucky, it seems, are like elite preschools in Manhattan: parents must sign up in advance to save a spot for their child.

Clever, misguided Dad. Come back tomorrow.

The irate father asked the bureaucrat whatever happened to the tax increase on our motor vehicle registration. Wasn't that increase supposed to fund improved services at D.M.V.? Next in line.

The D.M.V. may be doing more to recruit future Republicans than the party ever could.

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